Ram Caught in a Thicket

Woolley's reconstruction of the Penn Museum's Ram Caught in a Thicket
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Woolley's reconstruction of the Penn Museum's Ram Caught in a Thicket
Woolley’s reconstruction of the Penn Museum’s Ram Caught in a Thicket
In 1944, Léon Legrain did some conservation work on the Ram. Although no records exist of the specific work done, comparison of the images shows that fleeces have been removed and the curvature of the back altered.
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In 1944, Léon Legrain did some conservation work on the Ram. Although no records exist of the specific work done, comparison of the images shows that fleeces have been removed and the curvature of the back altered.
In 1944, Léon Legrain did some conservation work on the Ram.

Woolley dubbed this statuette the “ram caught in a thicket” as an allusion to the biblical story of Abraham sacrificing a ram. It actually depicts a markhor goat eating the leaves of a tree. One of two such objects excavated from The Great Death Pit, the other is housed at the British Museum. Little of the original Ram survived when Woolley excavated it, which he did by pouring wax on it and using waxed muslin strips to stabilize it. In Woolley’s original reconstruction of the Ram, he miscalculated the height of the animal and placed the tree too deeply into the base, causing the Ram’s legs to dangle above the tree’s branches.

Field photograph of the British Museum's Ram in situ.
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Field photograph of the British Museum's Ram in situ.
Field photograph of the British Museum’s Ram in situ.
Field photograph of the Penn Museum's Ram in situ.
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Field photograph of the Penn Museum's Ram in situ.
Field photograph of the Penn Museum’s Ram in situ.

The Ram underwent some additional conservation around 1944. Although no records exist, comparing the photos of Woolley’s original reconstruction with later ones reveals several differences; most notably that some of the ram’s fleece had been removed. When the Ram was slated to travel as part of the “Treasures of the Royal Tombs of Ur” exhibition in the late 1990s, it underwent further conservation to strengthen it for travel and to match it more closely with the proportions seen in its excavation photo. The conservation in 1997 managed to lower the ram’s legs to the tree branches and replicate what was visible in the excavation photo.

This relief on the side of a cosmetic vessel from Nippur shows one of the many other depictions of goats in trees. The theme was common in Early Mesopotamian art.
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This relief on the side of a cosmetic vessel from Nippur shows one of the many other depictions of goats in trees. The theme was common in Early Mesopotamian art.
This relief on the side of a cosmetic vessel from Nippur shows one of the many other depictions of goats in trees.
Woolley dubbed the statues “Rams Caught in a Thicket” as an allusion to the biblical story of Abraham. They more likely represent goats, which could often be seen standing on their hind legs, to reach leaves in the trees, as seen here.
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Woolley dubbed the statues “Rams Caught in a Thicket” as an allusion to the biblical story of Abraham. They more likely represent goats, which could often be seen standing on their hind legs, to reach leaves in the trees, as seen here.
Woolley dubbed the statues “Rams Caught in a Thicket” as an allusion to the biblical story of Abraham.


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