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Hidden Treasure from the Royal Cemetery at Ur: Technology Sheds New Light on the Ancient Near East

Alexandra Irving and Janet Ambers
Near Eastern Archaeology
Vol. 65, No. 3 (Sep., 2002), pp. 206-213
DOI: 10.2307/3210885
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3210885
Page Count: 8
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Abstract

Recent research has shed light on one of the most spectacular collections within the British Museum-the discoveries made by Sir Leonard Woolley at the Royal Cemetery of Ur. The city of Ur lies in southern Iraq and was excavated between 1922 and 1934. Its cemetery contained a group of extremely rich graves dating to around 2500 BCE. Fragile artifacts, such as bone, within these so-called Royal tombs were carefully preserved in wax to ensure their safe recovery and transport. Although the wax has ensured the stability of these objects, it also obscures much of their surface detail, particularly where it has blackened with age. A program of radiography was therefore initiated in order to reassess a variety of objects from the Royal Cemetery in a non-destructive manner. This yielded some extremely surprising results as supposed skeletal remains proved to be two stunning gold, silver and lapis lazuli headdresses.

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