Research Paper: Interpreting a Historical Artifact

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[. . .] The scenes depicted in the box have featured in several Sumerian artworks, for example Victory Stele, where the objective of erecting it was to celebrate the victory in battle.[footnoteRef:13] In addition, the mosaics in the ancient city of Mari also portray a similar scene of battle, which appears in the Standard of Ur. Banquet Scenes are also evident, and they borrow a lot from the Standard of Ur. Therefore, the appearance of the scenes tells that they were essential subjects to the Sumerians. In addition, literature reports that Sumerians did enjoy feasts and banquets, and there are poems and songs, which support their love for good parties. [13: White, "Treasures from the Royal Tombs of Ur: A Traveling Exhibition of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology,"]

Literature also reports that in the cemetery at Ur, where Woodley found the Standard of Ur, there were many graves and some of them contained remains of donkeys, which resemble the scenes of chariots on the Standard. Alternatively, the Sumerians also had great respect for their rulers, or deities. In the Sumerian society, there was an appointed to each city or state. Therefore, the rulers resembled higher beings to the Sumerians.[footnoteRef:14] This is why in the Standard, there is a scene where common people are gathering livestock and food to prepare a feast, which shows that the Sumerians had respect and the feasts were one of the ways they rewarded their rulers. [14: The British Museum. "Standard of Ur: From Ur, southern Iraq, about 2400-2600 BC,"]

Peace and War

Apart from the theoretical explanations given in this study, prior literature asserts that the main function of the Standard of Ur remains a mystery. The initial thought by Woodley, that it was an attempt to represent standard has received substantial criticism. There have been assumptions that it was a musical instrument, others felt it was a box to hold funds; however, in regards to the inscriptions and scenes depicted, there lacks evidence to support. Although this is the case, it is undisputable that the other possible function of the box was to portray "war" and "peace."[footnoteRef:15] [15: Leonard. Excavations at Ur: A record of twelve years' work.]

This has managed to provide a single narrative, which has appeared in most of the prior studies. In this case, it shows a war, which is followed by victory, and celebration. This actually appears to fit in the explanation, whereby the Sumerians described the "war" and "peace" using opposite concepts.[footnoteRef:16] Therefore, the theoretical foundation of war, which celebration later follows provides an important theoretical foundation, which appears to be true. Then again, unless a scholar or historian provides evidence in another context, this concept will remain undisputable. [16: Christopher. "Standard of Ur: Definition, lesson and quiz,"]

Conclusion

Charles Leonard Woolley discovered the Standard of Ur, in the late 1920s. The excavator found it in the Royal Tombs of Ur in ancient Mesopotamia, which was close to Baghdad presently known as Iran about 2600 BCE. Leonard was a London-based excavator, and his discovery in Ur was in his efforts to discover artifacts. Although he found it, he assumed that it was a flag used back then in 2600 BCE because he had found it close to the shoulder of a person near a pole. On the other hand, the context of Ur is that of the ancient city of Sumer, Mesopotamia.

It is the same city referred to as Ur of the Chaldea. Interestingly, this same Ur is the one mentioned in the Bible as the home of Abraham. As shown, the Standard of Ur has two sides, which historians have labeled "war" and "peace." The two sides appear to have the greatest debates, and serve as the point of references when there are attempts to explain the objective of the artifact. Although there are other possible explanations given for this artifact, the "peace" and "war" explanations appear to have more support because the scenes are attributable to the same.

Bibliography

Gansell, Amy Rebecca, and Winter Irene. Treasures from the royal tombs of Ur. Cambridge,

Mass: Publications Dept., Harvard University, 2002.

Sailus, Christopher. "Standard of Ur: Definition, lesson and quiz." Education Portal. Accessed 23 April 2014.

Shannon, White. "Treasures from the Royal Tombs of Ur: A Traveling Exhibition of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology," Near Eastern Archaeology 67, no. 4. (2004): 229.

The British Museum. "Standard of Ur: From Ur, Southern Iraq, about 2400-2600 BC." The

British Museum. Accessed 23 April 2014.

Wolley, Leonard. Excavations at Ur: A record of twelve years' work. London: Routledge, 2009. [END OF PREVIEW]

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