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The royal cemetery at Ur: 2500 BC

A seal of lapis lazuli, with the name Puabi engraved upon it, identifies the female occupant of one of the royal tombs discovered at Ur. She has a gold cup near her hand. The upper half of her skeleton is entirely covered in multi-coloured beads. The main tomb, now empty, is presumed to have received the body of her husband.

The objects buried with the royal couple include a beautifully sculpted goat, of wood, gold, shell and lapis lazuli. It stands with its forelegs up in the branches of a tree. And there are exquisitely ornamented musical instruments.

The king has with him sixty-five attendants, and Puabi another twenty-five. They are dressed as in life. The soldiers have copper spears and helmets. The wagon-drivers are in their four-wheeled wagons (among the earliest to have been discovered) and the grooms are in charge of the oxen which have dragged the wagons down the slope into the tombs.

Female attendants wear brilliant headdresses. Some of them have musical instruments. All is eerily calm. There is no sign of violence or panic. It seems that these docile commpanions on the royal journey into death must have been drugged in preparation for the burial ceremony. They remain quietly in their final sleep while the tomb is sealed around them.

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