Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Earring

Period:
Early Dynastic IIIa
Date:
ca. 2600–2500 B.C.
Geography:
Mesopotamia, Ur (modern Tell al-Muqayyar)
Culture:
Sumerian
Medium:
Gold
Dimensions:
2 3/4 in. (7 cm)
Classification:
Metalwork-Ornaments
Credit Line:
Dodge Fund, 1933
Accession Number:
33.35.45
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 403
These earrings (MMA 33.35.45 and MMA 33.35.46) come from the so-called Great Death Pit, which was probably part of a royal tomb with an almost totally destroyed stone chamber. Laid out in the pit were the bodies of six armed men and sixty-eight people thought to be women or young girls, all adorned with the most splendid jewelry made of gold, lapis lazuli, and carnelian.

The earrings are typical of those from the royal tombs. Made from two pieces of gold sheet, each is shaped like a hollow crescent or open boat with raised ends. The crescents were shaped over a bitumen core. Woolley identified these objects as earrings because they were regularly found in pairs beside the skull. He suggested that the pin could have passed through the lobe of the ear. Another possibility, however, is that they hung beside the ear but were attached to a headdress.
1928-1929, excavated by Sir Leonard Woolley on behalf of the Joint Expedition of the University Museum, University of Pennsylvania and the British Museum; ceded to the University Museum in the division of finds; acquired by the Museum in 1933, purchased from University Museum.

“The Art of the Jeweler: A Selection from the Collections of the Museum,” The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, November 20, 1940–March 9, 1941.

“Archaeology: Exploring the Past,” The Junior Museum of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, September 22, 1962–June 30, 1966.

Dimand, Maurice S. 1933. "Notes: Sumerian Jewelry." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 28, p. 114.

Woolley, C. Leonard. 1934. The Royal Cemetery: A Report on the Predynastic and Sargonic Graves Excavated between 1926 and 1931. Ur Excavations, Vol. II. London, pp. 67, 560, pl. 29-35.

Dimand, Maurice S. and H.E. McAllister. 1944. Near Eastern Jewelry, a picture book. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, fig. 1.
Related Objects

Headdress

Date: ca. 2600–2500 B.C. Medium: Gold, lapis lazuli, carnelian Accession: 33.35.3 On view in:Gallery 403

Earring

Date: ca. 2600–2500 B.C. Medium: Gold Accession: 33.35.46 On view in:Gallery 403

Necklace

Date: ca. 2600–2500 B.C. Medium: Gold, lapis lazuli Accession: 33.35.47 On view in:Gallery 403

Necklace beads

Date: ca. 2600–2500 B.C. Medium: Gold, lapis lazuli Accession: 33.35.48 On view in:Gallery 403

Hair ribbons

Date: ca. 2600–2500 B.C. Medium: Gold Accession: 33.35.4–.14 On view in:Gallery 403