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lyre

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    121199

  • Description

    Silver lyre; the silver which covers this lyre and its bull's head, and the shell, lapis lazuli and red limestone inlay decoration are ancient, but the frame, the pegs, strings and bridge are modern; the original silver pegs are exhibited separately; the panel on the front of the lyre depicts fallow deer and a tree on a hill, lions attacking a goat, and a lion attacking a gazelle.

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  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 2600BC
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 97.5 centimetres
    • Length: 69 centimetres
    • Width: 5.5 centimetres (body)
    • Length: 103 centimetres (bar)
    • Length: 18 centimetres (pin)
    • Height: 15.5 centimetres (shell decoration)
  • Curator's comments

    This object was originally reconstructed by Woolley in 1936 using paraffin wax. This gave way in July 1949 and the object was removed from display. Steps were begun to conserve and restore the object in 1962 when it was sent to the laboratory on 16 July, and over the course of the following two years Mr R.M. Organ of the Research Laboratory worked on this project, assisted by Mrs Charlotte Podro, then Conservation Officer in the Dept of Western Asiatic Antiquities. The work was then taken over and completed by Marjorie Hutchinson (nee MacGregor) under the supervision of Mr H. Barker and Mr A. Oddy of the Laboratory, and the object returned in May 1968.

    After preliminary treatment to remove the paraffin wax, the carbonates and copper salts, the remaining silver chloride was reduced electrolytically to massive silver by a the- new process known as consolidative reduction (the process later published by Organ). Through this process, all shapes and surface details, including the impressions of string, the bridge and the matting on which the object lay in the ground, were preserved. The bridge and tuning pegs were substituted with perspex and the lyre mounted on a frame of the same material which was fashioned by Mr Ian McIntyre of the Research Laboratory. The silver was re-attached using a hard wax of high melting point (Cosmolid 80H) with 25% beeswax. A decision was made to add perspex levers to the reconstruction rather than incorporate the silver originals which were considered too weak. The reconstruction was also strung with nylon threads to help show its original appearance (Report to Trustees 2 June 1969).

    Photographs before and after the latter restoration were published as part of a short note in 'The British Museum Report of the Trustees 1966-1969', pp.42-43, pls IX a-b. See also 'Iraq' vol. 31, plate XI. The photograph taken immediately before restoration does not appear to be in ANE's archives or photographic albums. The negative PS0688467 is copied from the Ur negative U.1341, which is the photograph published by Woolley in UE II pl. 111, and which seems to be the only available photograph of the complete lyre before the 1960s restoration.

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  • Bibliography

    • Barnett 1969a pp. 97-98 and plate XI. bibliographic details
    • British Museum 1969a pp.42-43, pl. IXa-b bibliographic details
  • Location

    G56/dc19

  • 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

    121199

  • Registration number

    1929,1017.2

  • Additional IDs

    • U.12354 (excavation number)
Silver lyre; the silver which covers this lyre and its bull's head, and the shell, lapis lazuli and red limestone inlay decoration are ancient, but the wooden frame, the 11 pegs, strings and bridge are modern; the 8(?) original silver pegs are exhibited separately; the panel on the front of the lyre depicts fallow deer and a tree on a hill, lions attacking a goat, and a lion attacking a gazelle.

Silver lyre; the silver which covers this lyre and its bull's head, and the shell, lapis lazuli and red limestone inlay decoration are ancient, but the wooden frame, the 11 pegs, strings and bridge are modern; the 8(?) original silver pegs are exhibited separately; the panel on the front of the lyre depicts fallow deer and a tree on a hill, lions attacking a goat, and a lion attacking a gazelle.

Image description

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Object reference number: WCO24686

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