University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Ur Digitization Project: March 2013

Adze U9339/B16691 : Made of gold? How much gold?

By: Brad Hafford

This month we had a week-long visit from archaeo-metallurgists from the Deutches Bergbau-Museum, the University of Franfurt am Main, and the University of Toulouse, Le Mirail. They brought with them some impressive equipment for spot analysis of many metal objects from Ur and will do more in-depth studies of the results back in their home […]

Ur Digitization Project: February 2013

Ur excavation area EM, domestic architecture: published in UE7 1976, plate 122

By: Brad Hafford

Archival documents of the month Spotlight on Maps of Excavated Domestic Areas EM and AH Published in Antiquaries Journal 1927, 1931, and in Ur Excavations volume 7 My last blog post concerned the questions of the standard house in the period most revealed in Woolley’s excavations. Now I want to cover the larger concept of […]

Ur Digitization Project: January 2013

Watercolor reconstruction of 'typical' house at Ur, No. 3 Gay Street, by A.S. Whitburn, ca. 1930.

By: Brad Hafford

Archival document of the month Spotlight on A.S. Whitburn reconstruction drawing of No. 3 Gay Street Early archaeologists often concentrated on temples, palaces and cemeteries, since these were most likely to contain impressive artifacts for museums. Woolley dug his fair share of these areas, but to his great credit, he did not overlook the more […]

Ur Digitization Project: December 2012

Supervisory staff in front of the improved Expedition house at end of season 1928-29.

By: Brad Hafford

Archival documents of the month Spotlight on Field Photo Numbers 0002 and 1365 The Dig House Archaeologist C. Leonard Woolley spent as much as five months (typically November to March) every year in the field, living at a small house he had built near the site of Ur. It was a basic Expedition house for […]

Defending Cultural Heritage: Protecting Historical Valuables

The headdress of Puabi as depicted in the late 1920s.  The headdress itself represents about two kilos of gold.

By: Tom Pedrick

Discovering unique artifacts in exotic lands has been the subject of countless explosive action films, adventure novels, and embellished storytelling, from the excavations of Heinrich Schliemann to those of Howard Carter. The human lust for treasure, especially gold, exists in the mind as a classic romantic adventure.  Thus, ancient sites across the world have been […]

Ram in the Thicket [Object of the Day #125]


By: admin

Statuette of a goat standing upright against the branches of a flowering plant. The goat has been identified as a markhor (Capra falconeri), a wild species native to the mountains of Central and South Asia, by its large corkscrew-shaped horns. The statuette is a quintessential example of early Mesopotamian (Sumerian) composite art, with its rich […]

Ur Digitization Project: November 2012

Field photo number 1617: RAF photo of the Ur ziggurat in 1930

By: Brad Hafford

Archival documents of the month Spotlight on Field Photo Numbers 912, 1616, 1617, and 2350) The Enormity of the Task I’ve been on the road most of this month in meetings and conferences in both London and Chicago. At these meetings I and many others involved have been promoting the Ur project and reporting on […]

Lyre Fragment: Plaque [Object of the Day #105]


By: Alyssa Kaminski

This Fragment was originally found as the front plaque of The Bull Headed Lyre (object #B17694B). The plaque is broken into four panels that tell the story of royalty’s control over nature, funerary ritual, and entry into the underworld. The top panel depicts a nude figure wrestling with two human-headed bulls. This image represents a […]

Ur Digitization Project: Item of the Month, October 2012

Roll-out in plaster of cylinder seal U.8228, which likely hung from the silver pin B16730.

By: Brad Hafford

Artifact of the month Spotlight on Field Number U.8226 (Museum Number B16730) Silver Garment Pin This beautiful pin was found in PG165, a ‘non-royal’ grave in the Royal Cemetery area of Ur. More than 1800 graves were found in this area but only 16 were designated royal; these graves had particular characteristics, most notably a […]

Ubaid Figurine [Object of the Day #79]


By: Alyssa Kaminski

  With her hands on her hips and a bitumen wig, the most defining characteristic of this figurine may be her bird head. Created in Iraq during the Ubaid Period, this figure represents a nude woman. The figurine is made from terracotta and bitumen. It was created using an incising method which uses sharp tools to […]

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