Circa 2600-2500 b.c.e.
Elite woman of ur
Unknown Role. One of the elite individuals buried in the Royal Tombs of Ur (circa 2600-2500 b.c.e.) was a slight woman, just under five feet tall, who was about forty years old at the time of her death. Her name, Pu-abi, is inscribed on a lapis-lazuli cylinder seal found near her body. No other inscriptions were found in the tombs. It has been suggested recently that she may have been the second wife of king Meskalamdug of Ur, who may have been buried in the adjacent tomb.
Elaborate Burial. Pu-abi’s intact burial was discovered in 1928 by Sir Leonard Woolley. She was buried in a multi-chambered tomb that included gold and silver plates and cups, elaborate jewelry, full-size chariots with donkeys, and the bodies of many human attendants, including women outfitted as musicians and men equipped as soldiers and grooms. Semi-precious stones of lapiz lazuli and carnelian were worked masterfully into the ornate gold necklaces and headbands worn by Pu-abi and her female attendants. These materials, among others, are evidence of the existence of long-distance trade networks in the mid-third millennium b.c.e. and of the leading role of the city of Ur in that trade. The richness of her burial indicates that Pu-abi was an individual of high status at a time in Mesopotamia when religious, economic, and political elites were beginning to set themselves apart from the rest of the population.
Julian Reade, “Assyrian King-Lists, The Royal Tombs of Ur and Indus Origins,” Journal of Near Eastern Studies, 60 (2001): 1–29.
Richard L. Zettler, “The Burials of a King and Queen,” in Treasures from the Royal Tombs of Ur, edited by Zettler and Lee Home (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Museum, 1998), pp. 33–38.
Zettler, “The Royal Cemetery of Ur,” in Treasures from the Royal Tombs of Ur, pp. 21–25.