From Ur, southern Iraq
about 2600-2400 BC

Leonard Woolley found this sceptre in the largest of the graves in the Royal Cemetery at Ur. A slope led to the bottom of a nine-metre shaft and to one side of a stone chamber which filled the entire floor of the pit. There were four chambers made of limestone rubble. Robbers had broken in through the roof of the outer chamber and the contents had been thoroughly plundered. A few fragments of human bones and this sceptre remained, its purpose unknown.

Although the original wood had decayed the various parts of the staff were still in place. The top end has a mushroom-shaped shell inlaid with a red and blue rosette. Below it five bands of very thin gold foil are impressed with designs in relief as if taken from cylinder seals; the designs unfortunately are no longer recognizable. Between the gold bands are rings of lapis lazuli. Below this are bands of mosaic in shell and lapis lazuli triangles separated by rings of shell and red limestone. It was restored and reconstructed in 1966.

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More information


C.L. Woolley and others, Ur Excavations, vol. II: The R (London, The British Museum Press, 1934)


Length: 41.500 cm

Museum number

ME 122201



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