The Great Fatted Bull
Tablet #36
Sumerian Images
Sumerian History
The Royal Tombs of Ur
The "Standard" of Ur?
Standard of Ur narratives
Vulture Stele Translation
Sumerian War Chariots
War Chariot Deconstructed
Gudea Translation
The Face of Gudea
The Face of Ur-Ningirsu
The Face of Lugal-agrig-zi
Ur-Namma Translation
The Face of Ur-Namma
Face of Ur-Namma, part II
I am Ur-Namma
The Face of Shulgi
Who Were the Sumerians?
Other Sumerian Kings
The Princess Wife
The Great Fatted Jackass
Sargon's Victory Stele
Helmet: the King of Kish
The Standard of Mari?
The Invention of Writing
Adventures in Cuneiform
The Sumerian Scribe
A Masterpiece
Site Map

Bronze bull's head with inlaid eyes of shell and lapis lazuli. See a high-resolution image.

Click on any of the images to enlarge them in a separate window.

Silver bull's head. The Sumerians, who drew human faces so simply, even crudely, were experts at depicting animals.

Three goats are led to sacrifice during the victory procession shown on the Standard of Ur.
An artistic touch is added by making the bodies of the goats blend together. This was a common motif in Mesopotamian art, as seen on a Sumerian plaque from the city of Shuruppak and on an Akkadian cylinder seal.


Whetstone made of lapis lazuli, with a gold ring.


Gold tweezers and stiletto. Queen Pu-abi's tomb.


Gold (electrum) and silver grooming kit.

Gold case for the tweezers, stiletto, and a utensil (left) for applying kohl, used as an eyeliner. Apparently this was a standard grooming kit, as other examples (less ornate) were also found.

Electrum chisels, found with the grooms outside Queen Pu-abi burial chamber.  Lengths: 6.1 and 10.5 centimeters  (2.4 and 4.13 inches). The chisels must have had some kind of symbolic value, since electrum (a natural alloy of gold and silver) is not hard enough to make an effective cutting tool. Like the whetstone shown above, the Sumerians sometimes used precious mateials for utilitarian items.

                              Engraved square from a game board.

Game board found in the King's Grave (PG 789) similar to the game found in Queen Pu-abi's tomb (PG 800).  Top:  Playing squares with an animal theme, rather than the abstract designs of Pu-abi's board.  Middle:  Side of the board with the "eye motif" so common in Sumerian art.  Bottom:  Square game tiles, unlike Pu-abi's game, which has round game tiles. In both cases, the tiles have 5 dots on them.

Silver boat model. Several boat models were found in the Royal Tombs. They were often loaded with small containers, as if carrying provisions for the dead. This boat model is from PG 789, the King's Grave.

This bull-legged tray is one of the few examples of Sumerian furnishings that has survived until the present day. Length: 62.5 centimeters (24.6 inches).

Mystery Item.  Height: 21 centimetres (8.26 inches).  Width: 19.5 centimetres (7.67 inches).
Made of stone, it is decorated with the eye motif and the eight-pointed rosettes that were so meaningful to the Sumerians. It is similar to a woven reed basket, like the kind depicted on cylinder seals. Another example was found in Iran. The purpose of this object isn't known. I think it's a sculpted model of a handbag, though I have no proof of this.

The UPenn Museum has this figurine labeled as "a man", but the shepherd's hat signifies that he is a Sumerian king. The figures below were likewise misidentified. 

A Sumerian king similar to the one shown above. It may actualy be the same one, because these terra cotta sculptures were cast in a mold. They aren't from the Royal Tombs of Ur, but were found in a workshop inside the city.

A Sumerian king. He is carrying a shepherd's flail, a symbol of authority.

Sumerian king

The Royal Tombs of Ur had been partially covered in later years by a rubbish heap. There were so many cylinder seal impressions found in the rubbish that Leonard Wooley called it "the seal impression strata".

Seal impression showing a banquet scene. In the top register, the revelers use straws to drink beer from a large vat on the floor. In the botttom register, men and women sing and dance while playing cymbals and a bull-headed lyre. The two small figures beneath the lyre have been described as dwarfs but they're probably just children. The are many Sumerian  cylinder seals depicting banquet scenes, but this one is the most festive of them all. See a line‑drawing of the seal.

Cylinder seal and seal impression with a simple but effective motif.  It almost looks like modern art.

A similar cylinder seal impression. Gazelles run across shallow water (a river, lake, or marsh) with frogs and fish in it. One of the gazelles looks back over his shoulder.

Modern reproduction of a lyre's bull head at the British Museum.

Continue the tour to: Weapons,  or go to:  Exploration,  Lyres,  VesselsJewelry.