Height: 10.500 cm
Width: 6.200 cm
Room 56: Mesopotamia
From Ur, southern
About 1900-1600 BC
Picked up by a man on his way to work
Baked clay plaques like this one, showing an affectionate couple, were mass-produced in southern Mesopotamia from the second millennium BC. They show informal scenes and reflect the private face of life. Their exact purpose is not clear, though they may have magical or religious significance.
This example was one of several discovered in an outlying quarter of the city of Ur known locally as Diqdiqqah. It was recovered by the excavator Leonard Woolley. He discovered that his workmen were collecting objects they found on the surface as they crossed Diqdiqqah on their way to the excavation site at Ur. To prevent further damage, Woolley examined the region and found that it had been an important industrial area in the late third and early second millennia BC, but any buildings had been damaged and the remains were very confused. Recognizing that there would be little to gain from a full-scale excavation, Woolley allowed his men to continue searching for objects as long as they were brought to him to buy.
C.L. Woolley and M. Mallowan, Ur Excavations, vol. VII: The (London, The British Museum Press, 1976)