Lapis lazuli was used for jewelry, cylinder seals, and inlays. It came from mines near Badakshan in northeastern Afghanistan. Mentioned in Mesopotamian myths and hymns as a material worthy of kings and gods, lapis would arrive in small, unfinished chunks to be worked locally into objects. Beads in lapis would arrive already manufactured.
Silver came from a number of places in Anatolia and on the Iranian Plateau. It would have arrived as ingots ready to be worked. New sourcing techniques may soon allow scientists to identify the unique chemical features of the imported metals found at Ur, helping us pinpoint their source.
Copper, used for vessels, tools, weapons, and decorative pieces, came from sources in Iran and Anatolia. The metal would have arrived as ingots that could be either cast or hammered into a variety of forms.
Shell, used for cosmetics cases, pouring vessels, and cylinder seals, came from the Persian Gulf.
Many of the stone vessels found in the Royal Cemetery were made of alabaster, a light-colored calcareous stone found on the Iranian Plateau. The most common shape is a cylinder with a flat rim that is paralleled at Iranian sites where workshops have
Steatite, a dark greenish-gray soft stone, was commonly used for bowls that nested inside one another for efficient storage and travel. They would have been imported as finished objects from Iran. Steatite vessels with relief carving were probably carried to southern Mesopotamia by Iranian craftsmen, or they may have arrived via trade as containers for specially prepared foods or cosmetics.