History : May-Jun 2016
Leonard Woolley’s excavation of Ur yielded an archaeologist’s dream discovery: a series of intact tombs filled with a trove of golden treasures and untouched artifacts from one of Mesopotamia’s most important ancient cities. RICHES OF UR T he 1920s marked a golden age in high-profile archaeological discoveries. Beginning with How- ard Carter’s landmark 1922 discovery of the tomb of the Egyptian king Tutankhamun, the decade would end with another stunning find: Leonard Woolley’s discovery of intact Mesopotamian royal tombs dating back more than 4,000 years in the ancient city of Ur, located 140 miles southeast of Babylon in modern-day Iraq. The tombs were the work of the ancient culture of Sumer that had flourished at the dawn of civilization. The discovery of the tombs dominated headlines on both sides of the Atlantic, not only for the quantity and craftsman- ship of the objects found but also for the light they shed on the grisly nature of Sumerian burial practices. The finds included exquisitely crafted jewelry and musical instruments, as well as large numbers of bodies: servants and soldiers entombed alongside their dead sovereigns.