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The Standard of Ur

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    121201

  • Title (object)

    • The Standard of Ur
  • Description

    "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.

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  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 2500 BC
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 21.7 centimetres
    • Length: 50.4 centimetres
    • Width: 11.6 centimetres (end; base)
    • Width: 5.6 centimetres (end; top)
  • Curator's comments

    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).

  • Bibliography

    • Curtis & Tallis 2012 1 bibliographic details
    • MacGregor 2010 cat.no.10, pp.68-77 bibliographic details
    • Aruz & Wallenfels 2003a no. 52, pp. 97-100 bibliographic details
    • Boulton W H 1931 a p. 123: photograph opposite (views of all sides with original reconstruction) bibliographic details
    • Tosi & Piperno 1973a p.23 (pre-reconstruction view and comment on the lapis inlays) bibliographic details
    • Woolley et al 1934a pls 90-93 bibliographic details
    • Barnett & Wiseman 1960a pp.26-27, no. 10 bibliographic details
  • Location

    On display: G56/dc17

  • Exhibition history

    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

  • Condition

    Formerly crushed and fragmented; since restored

  • Subjects

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1928

  • Acquisition notes

    Objects allotted to the British Museum from Ur excavation season 1927-1928.

  • Department

    Middle East

  • BM/Big number

    121201

  • Registration number

    1928,1010.3

  • Additional IDs

    • 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.

3/4: Left

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.

Image description

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Object reference number: WCO24764

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