All that glitters is, in this case, gold. During our Thanksgiving visit to our daughter’s in Philadelphia, we spent time at the Penn Museum, a jewel of a museum. If I lived in Philadelphia, I’d have a membership so that I could take time in each gallery individually and then go home and read more about that era. I love history and this museum brings it alive. Let’s look at just a few items from the ancient city of Ur.

Ur, modern Tall al-Muqayyar or Tell el-Muqayyar, Iraq, important city of ancient southern Mesopotamia (Sumer), situated about 140 miles (225 km) southeast of the site of Babylon and about 10 miles (16 km) west of the present bed of the Euphrates River. In antiquity the river ran much closer to the city; the change in its course has left the ruins in a desert that once was irrigated and fertile land. The first serious excavations at Ur were made after World War I by H.R. Hall of the British Museum, and as a result a joint expedition was formed by the British Museum and the University of Pennsylvania that carried on the excavations under Leonard Woolley’s directorship from 1922 until 1934.

Encyclopedia Britannica

Queen Puabi obviously rocked the jewelry! But who was she? The Penn Museum site tells us:

The forensic examination of her remains, undertaken by London’s Natural History Museum, indicates that she was roughly 40 years old when she died. She stood just under five feet tall. Her name and title are known from the short inscription on one of three cylinder seals found on her person. The two cuneiform signs that compose her name were initially read as “Shub-ad” in Sumerian. Today, we think they should be read in Akkadian as “Pu-abi” (or, more correctly, “Pu-abum,” meaning “word of the Father”). Her title is “eresh” (sometimes mistakenly read as “nin”), and means “queen.”

You can read more by clicking here.

These diadems are gorgeous but weren’t found intact, due to a collapse of the tomb. Again from the museum site:

While Queen Puabi’s burial was only one of the 1,850 intact burials that were discovered, hers was the one that drew the most attention since it contained an extensive array of pottery, jewelry, and furniture, and was not looted like many of the other burials. Puabi herself was adorned with rings around each finger, a garter around her knee, an intricate headdress, and a beaded cape on her upper body, all made of valuable gems. Located near Puabi’s head, Woolley spotted a pile of beads and golden amulets on a wooden surface that he identified as a “table.” This pile is what is currently known as Queen Puabi’s diadems. It consists of more than a thousand tiny lapis lazuli beads and dozens of golden animal, vegetal, twisted wire, and rosette pendants.

You can read more about the fascinating discovery, how the diadems were assembled, and see more golden photos here.

The Ram in the Thicket was found in the Great Death Pit of Ur. But it didn’t look like this when found. Take a look to see how it looked originally and how it was restored.

This lyre was found in the King’s Grave, but Queen Puabi has one that was very similar. You can see how the lyre would have looked when intact and strung by clicking here. The Museum site tells us more about the images and their meaning.

I hope you enjoyed this look at some golden items that we enjoyed. If you live close enough, be sure to stop by the museum. If you don’t, you can still see many items and find out more about them on their website. If you enjoy history and archeology like I do, you’ll have a great time.

  1. billgncs says:

    it was a great museum to visit !

  2. scr4pl80 says:

    Wow. Interesting.

  3. Stunning photos. It was the lapis lazuli phrase which caught my eye (unsurprisingly!)

  4. Fascinating history and gorgeous treasures.

  5. Wow, that is amazing!

  6. marianallen says:

    I eat that stuff up with a spoon! I don’t think I’ve ever seen any treasures of Ur or hear of this queen, so THANK YOU!

  7. I always love it when something true and historical or scientific in other areas tells me something about the video games I play. Lapis Lazuli can be found in levels of Mine Craft. So interesting to see that they are real.

    • I love that sort of overlap as well. Lapis is a beautiful color. I really love the Penn Museum and their site is full of photos and information about many of their wonderful treasures. It’s quite a resource.


  8. Su Leslie says:

    Definitely a museum I’d love to visit and revisit 😀

  9. Dan Antion says:

    Thanks for bringing us along. I couldn’t help bu think the goat is wearing heels.

  10. Resa says:

    I love this post! Entertainment, art and history all in one article. This is special.

  11. Prior... says:

    thanks for taking the time to share the history with your museum photos – I made sure I had time to read this and glad I did- ahhh so nice
    and a new word for queen is always good: eresh
    okay – going to click on one of the links now – explore a bit more

  12. joey says:

    What a beautiful share. I love the details. Gold and more gold, and such fine detail. I found myself putting the $75 book in my Amazon list and can imagine drooling over it. Best to find a used copy 😉