Standard of Ur – British Museum – DavidC Photography

The Standard of Ur

From Ur, southern Iraq, about 2600-2400 BC

Height: 21.59 cm Length: 49.53 cm


Standard of Ur 2600BC mosaic “war panel” – Journey to Ancient Civilizations

A mysterious object with one of the earliest representations of a Sumerian army

This object was found in one of the largest graves in the Royal Cemetery at Ur, lying in the corner of a chamber above the right shoulder of a man. Its original function is not yet understood. Leonard Woolley, the excavator at Ur, imagined that it was carried on a pole as a standard, hence its common name. Another theory suggests that it formed the soundbox of a musical instrument.


Standard of Ur mosaic detail Babylonian – Journey to Ancient Civilizations

When found, the original wooden frame for the mosaic of shell, red limestone and lapis lazuli had decayed, and the two main panels had been crushed together by the weight of the soil. The bitumen acting as glue had disintegrated and the end panels were broken. As a result, the present restoration is only a best guess as to how it originally appeared.


Standard of Ur mosaic detail British Museum – Journey to Ancient Civilizations

The main panels are known as ‘War’ and ‘Peace’.


Mesopotamia 1-Standard of Ur – mosaic war panel – kudwinski10108

‘War’ shows one of the earliest representations of a Sumerian army.


The Standard of Ur mosaic chariot detail 8 – mharrsch


The Standard of Ur mosaic chariot detail (6) – mharrsch

Chariots, each pulled by four donkeys, trample enemies;


The Standard of Ur mosaic army detail (7) – mharrsch

infantry with cloaks carry spears; enemy soldiers are killed with axes, others are paraded naked and presented to the king who holds a spear.


Standard of Ur 2600BC back – mosaic peace panel – Journey to Ancient Civilizations

The ‘Peace’ panel depicts animals,


Mesopotamia 6-Standard of Ur mosaic animals – kudwinski10108.


The Standard of Ur mosaic animal detail – mharrsch


The Standard of Ur mosaic banquet procession detail (1) – mharrsch

fish and other goods brought in procession to a banquet.


The Standard of Ur mosaic seated figures detail (2) – mharrsch

Seated figures, wearing woollen fleeces or fringed skirts,


The Standard of Ur mosaic musician playing lyre detail (4) – mharrsch

drink to the accompaniment of a musician playing a lyre.


The Standard of Ur mosaic banquet detail(3) – mharrsch

Banquet scenes such as this are common on cylinder seals of the period, such as on the seal of the ‘Queen’ Pu-abi, also in the British Museum. The Standard of Ur – The British Museum

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