Stone vessel

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

From the grave of 'Queen' Pu-abi

This cylindrical vessel, made from a soft stone, was discovered on the floor of the pit in the grave of 'Queen' Pu-abi, one of the richest burials in the Royal Cemetery at Ur. It has a typical design on the outside and may have been turned on a lathe.

Vessels of soft stone, mainly steatite and chlorite, became the focus of intensive investigation with the discovery in the late 1960s of a production centre dated to the second half of the third millennium BC at Tepe Yahya in south-central Iran. Numerous studies of similar vessels from Ur and other Mesopotamian sites like Nippur and Kish suggests that they had similar chemical compositions and may have been manufactured in Iran. Nevertheless, it is still difficult to identify specific sources.

Such ancient Mesopotamian vessels may have originally contained luxury products, and indeed must have been considered as precious objects themselves, since they are generally found in temples, rich graves and palaces. This vessel contained the remains of a copper tool when it was found.

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Stone vessel

  • 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


J.E. Reade, Mesopotamia (London, The British Museum Press, 1991)

D. Collon, Ancient Near Eastern art (London, The British Museum Press, 1995)

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)


Diameter: 9.500 cm (rim)
Height: 5.560 cm

Museum number

ME 121698



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