Ancient Mesopotamia for Kids
The Royal Tombs of Ur
In 1922, an archeologist named Woolley made a fantastic discovery. He found the Royal Tomb of Ur. Ur had been an important city in ancient Sumer until the Euphrates river changed its course after a flood, leaving the city miles from water. Because of the river's new course, the people of Ur left their city and built a new one on the banks of the Euphrates, where they could get food and trade goods. The old city was left to fall into ruins.
It was in these ruins that Woolley had been digging. The Royal Tomb of Ur had been left undisturbed for thousands of years. Inside the tomb, Wooley found riches beyond his wildest imagining. First he found a collection of weapons made of gold and lapis lazuli. That was odd. Common people in ancient Sumer rarely owned such beautiful things. Then they noticed the floor. It was made of limestone. There was no limestone nearby, so the floor had to specially created.
Upon closer inspection, it was discovered that it wasn't a floor at all. It was a flat roof. When they dug through the roof they found the Royal Tombs of Ur - the graves of royalty. They found the remains of the bodies. They found cylinder seals next to some of the bodies that helped to identify the royals by name. They found rings and necklaces and earrings and a headdress made of gold. They also found the remains of many other bodies - about 1400 of them! All the chief advisors and slaves of the royal family had been killed and placed in the tomb along with the royals. This discovery in 1922 told archaeologists a great deal about ancient Sumerian daily life.
Many other archaeologists arrived to dig further in Ur. No one else found a treasure like the one found by Woolley. But they did find many more artifacts, all of which helped us to better understand the ancient Sumerian civilization.