Date of this Version
American Journal of Archaeology
Fertility and abundance are important themes of ancient Mesopotamian texts and images. The goddess Inanna and her consort Dumuzi personify these ideas in texts of the second millennium B.C.E. Excavated by Leonard Woolley in the 1920s, the Royal Cemetery at Ur dates to the mid third millennium B.C.E. Among the tombs, that of Queen Puabi yielded many ornaments of gold, carnelian, and lapis. Some of the pendants realistically depict identifiable animals. Others are more stylized depictions of clusters of apples, dates, and date inflorescences. Apples and dates are both associated with the goddess Inanna, who is associated with love and fertility. Twisted wire pendants in the same group of objects are not so readily identified. I propose here that the twisted wire pendants in the Puabi assemblage may literally represent rope, symbolically reference sheep, and narratively evoke the flocks of the shepherd Dumuzi. Pairing symbols of Inanna and Dumuzi evokes life in a place of death.
© 2013 Archaeological Institute of America
iraq, cemetery, archaeology
Miller, N. F. (2013). Symbols of Fertility and Abundance in the Royal Cemetery at Ur, Iraq. American Journal of Archaeology, 117 (1), 127-133. http://dx.doi.org/10.3764/aja.117.1.0127
Date Posted: 10 November 2016
This document has been peer reviewed.