The Standard of Ur
- The Standard of Ur
"The Standard of Ur", decorated on four sides with inlaid mosaic scenes made from shell, red limestone and lapis lazuli, set in bitumen. One side shows a war scene; a Sumerian army with wheeled waggons and infantry charges the enemy; prisoners are brought before a larger individual, who is accompanied by guards and has his own waggon waiting behind him. The reverse shows scenes of men are bringing animals, fish etc, possibly as booty or tribute; at the top the same large individual banquets with other men; they are entertained at the right by a singer and a man playing a lyre. The triangular end panels show other scenes; the object was found crushed but has since been restored, and samples retained.
- 2500 BC
- Excavated/Findspot: Royal Cemetery
- (Asia,Iraq,South Iraq,Royal Cemetery (Ur))
- Height: 21.7 centimetres
- Length: 50.4 centimetres
- Width: 11.6 centimetres (end; base)
- Width: 5.6 centimetres (end; top)
A number of the lapis lazuli tesserae have a groove cut on the polished face with a rough surface below, suggesting they were cut with flint blades and split (Tosi & Piperno 1973).
- Curtis & Tallis 2012 1
- MacGregor 2010 cat.no.10, pp.68-77
- Aruz & Wallenfels 2003a no. 52, pp. 97-100
- Boulton W H 1931 a p. 123: photograph opposite (views of all sides with original reconstruction)
- Tosi & Piperno 1973a p.23 (pre-reconstruction view and comment on the lapis inlays)
- Woolley et al 1934a pls 90-93
- Barnett & Wiseman 1960a pp.26-27, no. 10
On display: G56/dc17
Exhibited: 2012 24 May-30 Sep, London, BM, 'The horse: from Arabia to Royal Ascot' 2010-2011, London, BM/BBC, 'A History of the World in 100 Objects' 2010 29 May-15 Oct, USA, Kentucky Horse Park, 'A Gift from the Desert' 2003 5 May-17 Aug, New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 'Art of the First Cities' 2001-2002 8 Nov-24 Mar, London, BM, 'Agatha Christie and Archaeology' 1991 9 Mar-7 May, Japan, Osaka, National Museum of Art, 'Treasures of the British Museum', cat. no.11 1991 5 Jan-20 Feb, Japan, Yamaguchi, Prefectural Museum of Art, 'Treasures of the British Museum', cat. no.11 1990 20 Oct-9 Dec, Japan, Tokyo, Setagaya Art Museum, 'Treasures of the British Museum', cat. no.11 1990 28 Jun-23 Sep, Australia, Melbourne, Museum of Victoria, Civilization: Ancient Treasures from the British Museum, cat no.5 1990 24 Mar-10 Jun, Australia, Canberra, National Gallery of Australia, Civilization: Ancient Treasures from the British Museum, cat no.5 Assyrian Room
Formerly crushed and fragmented; since restored
26 March 2012
Reason for treatment
Light surface clean to remove dust and cotton fibres.Consolidate chip on top.Secure stone (lapis lazuli) fragment at one side. Liaison with stone conservator.
The object was in fair condition. It was slightly dusty and soiled overall, exhibiting some cotton fibres and wax residues from previous treatments. (Documentation of previous treatments could not be found).There was a small uplifting chip at risk of loss on top of the box . The chip was placed close to one of the corners, on a previous wax infill resembling the original bitumen. There was a small fragment of lapis lazuli slightly loose at one of the narrower sides of the object.
The object was surface cleaned with a fine bristle brush and the low powered museum vacuum cleaner with the nozzle protected with a piece of net not to remove unwanted particles. Remnants of cotton fibres and wax residues were carefully removed with small metal tweezers and cotton swabs slightly moistened in acetone.The chip on top of the box was secured by applying a small aount of Paraloid B72 (methyl ethyl methacrlylate) at 10%w/v in acetone with a fine syringe (0.4 mm thick). Any excess of the resin after application was removed with a cotton swab slightly moistened in acetone.The lapis lazuly loose fragment was secured with the same resin applied at 20% w/v in acetone with a fine brush.
Objects allotted to the British Museum from Ur excavation season 1927-1928.
- U.11164 (excavation number)
War side - wide layout Hollow box, possibly part of a musical instrument; decorated on all four sides with inlaid mosaic scenes made from shell, red limestone and lapis lazuli, set in bitumen. One of the long sides shows a war scene; a Sumerian army with chariots and infantry charges the enemy; prisoners are brought before the king, who is accompanied by guards and has his own chariot waiting behind him. The other long side shows scenes of peace; men are bringing animals, fish etc; at the top the king banquets with friends; they are entertained by a singer and a man on a lyre. The triangular end panels show fanciful scenes, found damaged.
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Object reference number: WCO24764
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