Biblical Archaeology Review 36:3, May/June 2010

Strata: Special Collections

Penn Museum
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

This long-term exhibit on view at the Penn Museum highlights the extraordinarily rich finds from the 4,500-year-old royal tombs from the ancient city of Ur in southern Mesopotamia, modern Iraq. Among the nearly 2,000 burials that were discovered at the site by the famed archaeologist Sir Leonard Woolley was the intact tomb of the Sumerian queen Puabi. Her body was found adorned with an elaborate headdress (pictured above) consisting of gold leaves, gold ribbons, strands of lapis lazuli and carnelian beads, along with chokers, necklaces and large lunate-shaped earrings. She also wore an elaborately decorated pectoral covered by strands of beads made of precious metals and semiprecious stones.

In addition to showcasing the wealth of the Ur tombs, the exhibit also brings together rarely seen photographs and documents of Woolley’s expedition and examines how modern science is changing the way scholars understand ancient Sumerian culture and burial practices. The exhibit also explores continued international efforts to help preserve and conserve Iraq’s threatened cultural heritage.

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