Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Ritual Deaths at Ur

One of the most famous archaeological finds of the 20th century, was the discovery of the royal cemetary at Ur. Leonard Woolley made the discovery of the 4,500 year-old tombs in the 1920s in southern Iraq. The burials showed fabulous sophistication in rich gold work and jewelry. One of the gold headdresses is shown in the picture. The buried kings and queens were accompanied by human sacrifices - handmaidens and warriors were put to death and buried in rows near the royal persons.

I remember reading about this in two of my early books on archaeology when I was eight or nine years old: The Wonderful World of Archaeology and All About Archaeology. They told the story of the sacrificed people drinking poison and lying down in neat rows to die and accompany their masters to the next world. Quite an image.

Well, as usual, a re-analysis of the remains shows that wasn't quite the case. They were really bashed in the head rather than poisoned. Some people insist on taking the romance out of everything.

5 comments:

NorCal Cazadora said...

How crushing to see the Jonestown theory demolished!

Reid Farmer said...

Ha! Stay away from the purple kool-aid!

Songcatcher said...

I actually prefer this latest theory! lol I find no romance in blindly laying down their lives as trusting sheep. Death should be fought at ALL costs! It's against human nature not to. The fact that they had to be bludgeoned into submission is far more romantic a thought to me...in my humble opinion of course.

Anonymous said...

You know why they don't tell Jonestown jokes, right? The punch lines are too long.

Think I'll stay anonymous on this one...

Anonymous said...

It was VERY VERY politically incorrect, especially since it had only recently happened at the time, but in a Halloween haunted house I participated in during college, we had a "Jonestown" room with a Jim Jones character passing out purple kool-aid. Very, very bad(but quite effective!)...L.B.