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


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.