Stone basin

From Ur, southern Iraq
Early Dynastic period, about 2600-2400 BC

The close contact between Mesopotamia and Iran

This bowl demonstrates the extensive trade network that linked the cities of southern Mesopotamia with the rest of the Near East. There are sources of soft stone, such as the chlorite or steatite from which this vessel is made, in both Iran and Arabia. The site of Tepe Yahya in Iran has evidence for both manufacture and for reworking of carved chlorite vessels, and there are many possible stone sources in the Oman peninsula. Such vessels have been found widely from the Gulf to Pakistan and date between the early third and early second millennia BC. Nothing is known of what was transported in such pots. The fact that this bowl was found in the rich tomb of 'Queen' Pu-abi, one of the richest in the Royal Cemetery at Ur, suggests that they held luxury products.

Similar bell-shaped pots appear to be of graduated standard sizes. The different sizes could have been stacked one inside the other for shipment, and it is possible that the largest vessels, if traded in their finished form, had to be transported by sea.

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Stone basin

  • Reconstruction of the burial shaft, showing the queen's retinue and the ox drivers (1928)

    Reconstruction of the burial shaft, showing the queen's retinue and the ox drivers (1928)


More information


P.R.S. Moorey, Ancient Mesopotamian materials (Oxford, 1994)

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


Height: 19.300 cm
Diameter: 26.700 cm

Museum number

ME 121695



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