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The Ram in the Thicket

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    122200

  • Title (object)

    • The Ram in the Thicket
  • Description

    Statuette of a goat perched against a bush looking for food; tree is of gold leaf; inlaid; goat has face and legs of gold leaf; horns, eyes and shoulder fleece of lapis lazuli; body fleece of white shell; originally mounted on wooden core; silver pedestal with mosaic description in shell, lapis lazuli and red limestone; one of a pair; tube rising from shoulders indicates that it was used as a support; inlaid.

    More 

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 2600BC
  • Production place

  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 45.7 centimetres
    • Width: 30.48 centimetres
    • Length: 4.5 inches (base)
    • Width: 2.5 inches (base)
  • Bibliography

    • Hall H R 1930a pl. XIX (frontispiece) bibliographic details
    • Woolley et al 1934a pp.121, 264, pls 87-88, 90 bibliographic details
    • Barnett & Wiseman 1960a pp.22-23, no. 8 bibliographic details
  • Location

    G56/MES1/17

  • Conservation

    See treatments 

    Treatment date

    30 August 2007

    Reason for treatment

    Permanent Exhibition

    Treatment proposal

    Restore to previous appearance/condition. Check deterioration of glue (?) X-ray (for armature, etc). Re-fix gold leaf. Reduce glue sheen. Remove hairy bits. Investigate reshaping crushed flower.

    Condition

    No record of previous treatments could be found for this object. I was told that Fred Dungey did all the similar Ur items in the late '60s/very early 70s. Celestine Enderley worked on it late 70s-early 80s. There is no record of it ever having gone to the Research Lab.

    Object was brought to conservation initially as the gold foil was hanging off in several areas (see DADB). Also, excessive glue was causing the ear and lapis to gleam stickily like sucked boiled sweets (see DADB). Attempts were made to compare its present appearance with pictures taken several years ago. From these it is certain that the position of the left proper branch has altered and that the far right proper flower has been crumpled. As this is an Iconic Object and should not be off display for a lengthy period, it was decided to do a quick fix of the most pressing problems and investigate any possible future work. This included having an X-ray taken to show the armature and supports.

    Following observations made from X-rays.

    RAM IN THICKET (ME122200, 1929-10-17,1) X-RAY SESSION 30.8.07

    Janet Ambers was requested to X-ray the Ram in the Thicket to ascertain how the restoration was supported. She has recorded the real time X-ray in video tape.

    Observations:

    1. Wooden restoration base screwed into Perspex base (2 screws).

    2. Tree trunk support made from wood.

    3. Tree trunk not screwed or dowelled to wooden base, so presumably just glued. As glue is failing and embrittling in other areas this may be considered a future weak point, though it is sound at the moment.

    4. Tree branch supports made from copper/brass wire. Wire has some sort of cladding (possibly bandage, etc), visible in places where gold absent.

    5. Tree branch wire inserted into wooden tree trunk. Branch on goat’s proper left side has considerable movement – presumably wire is swivelling in its socket in the tree trunk. The cladding, which may have been glued to the wooden trunk support, has become detached and does not keep the branch in position which is why it now sags against the goat’s proper left side.

    6. Short length of wire inserted in top of wooden tree trunk support extends into the central leaf.

    7. Back legs have wire inside. Wire is inserted into wooden base. Goat does have a slight wobble on stand so possibly glue joins have failed and the wires are now loose in their sockets.

    8. Wires extend out of the tops of the back legs and are inserted into the body cavity. The body cavity does not contain anything that can be picked up on X-ray. Gaps in the shell and lapis coat of the goat have a bedraggled fibrous material poking out of them.

    9. X-ray did pick up shreds and flecks of X-ray resistant material incorporated into the belly of the goat. These may be the remains of silver sheet.

    10. The front legs of the goat contain brass/copper wire. The ends have been inserted into the body cavity, but like the back legs, the X-ray cannot reveal what is holding them in position.

    11. The gold mount extending out of the goat’s shoulders is wrapped round a cork. X-ray does not reveal how the cork is attached to the body.

    12. Wires extend into both horns to a certain extent. Again, the X-ray does not reveal how the wires are fixed into the restored body. The proper left horn has considerable make up in the central portion. This make up is beginning to crumble.

    P M Pearce 30.8.07

    Treatment details

    Excess glue removed by swabbing with Acetone (propan-1-one/dimethyl ketone).

    Excess wax removed by swabbing with White Spirit (composition variable - petroleum distillate).

    White wisps caught in the gold foil (see DADB) removed manually. (N.B. this object is a wisp and lint magnet.)

    Gold flower repositioned with an easy tweak.

    Number repainted with acrylic on side of base. (Numbers had previously been painted on front of tree trunk and side of one leg. Both numbers were partially missing.)

    Gold foil refixed with HMG heatproof and waterproof adhesive (cellulose nitrate).

    About these records 

  • Subjects

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1929

  • Acquisition notes

    Objects allotted to the British Museum from the Ur excavations, season 1928-1929.

  • Department

    Middle East

  • BM/Big number

    122200

  • Registration number

    1929,1017.1

  • Additional IDs

    • U.12357 (excavation number)
Statuette of a goat perched against a bush looking for food; tree is of gold leaf; inlaid; goat has face and legs of gold leaf; horns, eyes and shoulder fleece of lapis lazuli; body fleece of white shell; originally mounted on wooden core; silver pedestal with mosaic description in shell, lapis lazuli and red limestone; one of a pair; tube rising from shoulders indicates that it was used to support something; inlaid.

Front:Right Side

Statuette of a goat perched against a bush looking for food; tree is of gold leaf; inlaid; goat has face and legs of gold leaf; horns, eyes and shoulder fleece of lapis lazuli; body fleece of white shell; originally mounted on wooden core; silver pedestal with mosaic description in shell, lapis lazuli and red limestone; one of a pair; tube rising from shoulders indicates that it was used to support something; inlaid.

Image description

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Object reference number: WCO24763

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