I have a few more images of the finds of Leonard Woolley at Ur from the British Museum. I thought I would include them in this post. Although the exact belief systems and practices behind the royal burials at Ur are not yet known to us, what is apparent is the high level of technical and artistic sophistication that produced the artifacts that they contain. The array of raw materials from which the objects are made all had to be imported into the resource-poor Mesopotamian floodplain, and their variety attests to the far-flung trading network of which Ur was a part. These materials include gold that must have come from Afghanistan, Iran, Anatolia, Egypt, or Nubia, and etched carnelian beads from the Indus Valley, as well as many stones that perhaps made their way primarily from eastern Iran. With few exceptions, however, these imported materials were worked into final form in southern Mesopotamia by craftsmen who created some of the most spectacular works of art preserved from ancient Sumer. All of these pieces are between 2500-2000 BC.
While we were in the British Museum, we saw this sculpture titled “The Ram in the Thicket” excavated by the archeologist Leonard Woolley. Two almost identical copies of these sculptures were found by Leonard Woolley in the “Great Death Pit” at Ur. The other is now in the University of Pennsylvania Museum in Philadelphia. It was named the 'Ram in a Thicket' by the excavator Leonard Woolley, who liked biblical allusions. In Genesis 22:13, God ordered Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac, but at the last moment “Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son”. It depicts a ram (or, more accurately, a Markhor goat) rearing up on his hind legs to eat the leaves on the high branches of a tree (which is also depicted on the shell plaque pictured below). The branches are tipped with buds and eight-pointed rosettes. The statue is made of gold leaf, copper, shell, and lapis lazuli and it's supported on a small rectangular base decorated with a mosaic of shell, red limestone and lapis lazuli. The tube rising from the goat's shoulders was likely used to hold a small tray or offering bowl. The statue is 18 inches high (45.7 centimeters).