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The Royal Standard of Ur
The Royal Standard of Ur
Does this artifact give evidence of the original home of Abraham, Ur of the Chaldees?

This military standard is from the ruins of the royal tombs at Ur of the Chaldees in ancient Mesopotamia. The standard is about 4500 years old and one of the earliest representations of an ancient Sumerian army.

It has two sides, one depicting war and the other depicting peace. The excavator was the brilliant Sir Leonard Woolley, the archaeologist who uncovered the ruins of a highly advanced civilization, whose ruins can be traced before the flood of Noah. The royal standard of Ur is important in the study of Biblical archaeology, it reveals the fact that the original home of Abraham, the city of Ur really existed. Ur was an ancient city of Sumer, South Mesopotamia. The city is also known as Ur of the Chaldees. It was an important center of Sumerian culture and is identified in the Bible as the home of Abraham.

Genesis 15:5-7 - "And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness. And he said unto him, I [am] the LORD that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it."

Map of Ancient Ur

British Museum Excerpt

The Standard of Ur

From Ur, southern Iraq, about 2600-2400 BC
A mysterious object with one of the earliest representations of a Sumerian army

This object was found in one of the largest graves in the Royal Cemetery at Ur, lying in the corner of a chamber above the right shoulder of a man. Its original function is not yet understood. Leonard Woolley, the excavator at Ur, imagined that it was carried on a pole as a standard, hence its common name. Another theory suggests that it formed the soundbox of a musical instrument.

When found, the original wooden frame for the mosaic of shell, red limestone and lapis lazuli had decayed, and the two main panels had been crushed together by the weight of the soil. The bitumen acting as glue had disintegrated and the end panels were broken. As a result, the present restoration is only a best guess as to how it originally appeared.

The main panels are known as 'War' and 'Peace'. 'War' shows one of the earliest representations of a Sumerian army. Chariots, each pulled by four donkeys, trample enemies; infantry with cloaks carry spears; enemy soldiers are killed with axes, others are paraded naked and presented to the king who holds a spear.

The 'Peace' panel depicts animals, fish and other goods brought in procession to a banquet. Seated figures, wearing woollen fleeces or fringed skirts, drink to the accompaniment of a musician playing a lyre. Banquet scenes such as this are common on cylinder seals of the period, such as on the seal of the 'Queen' Pu-abi, also in the British Museum. 

The chief capital city of Urukh appears to have been Ur. He calls himself "King of Ur and Kingi-Accad "; and it is at Ur that he raises his principal buildings. Ur, too, has furnished the great bulk of his inscriptions. Babylon was not yet a place of much importance, though it was probably built by Nimrod. The second city of the Empire was Huruk or Erech: other places of importance were Larsa (Ellasar?) and Nipur or Calneh. [From The five great monarchies of the ancient eastern world By George Rawlinson]

Ur was an ancient city of Sumer, S Mesopotamia. The city is also known as Ur of the Chaldees. It was an important center of Sumerian culture (see Sumer) and is identified in the Bible as the home of Abraham. The site was discovered in the 19th cent., but it was not until the excavations of C. Leonard Woolley in the 1920s and 30s that a partial account of its history could be constructed. Remains found at the site seem to indicate that Ur existed as far back as the late Al Ubaid period (see Mesopotamia) and that the city was an important commercial center even before the first dynasty was established (2500 B.C.). Among the most important remains of the first dynasty, which has revealed a luxurious material culture, are the royal cemetery, where the standard of Ur was found, and the Temple of Ninhursag at Ubaid, bearing the inscriptions of the kings of the first dynasty. Ur was captured 2340 by Sargon, and this era, called the Akkadian period, marks an important step in the blending of Sumerian and Semitic cultures. After this dynasty came a long period of which practically nothing is known except that a second dynasty rose and fell. The third dynasty was established 2060 B.C. under King Ur-Nammu, who built the great ziggurat that has stood, although crumbled and covered with sand, throughout the centuries. An inscription in the Museum of the Ancient Orient in Istanbul was identified (1952) as a fragment of the code of Ur-Nammu. It predates the code of Hammurabi by 300 years and is the oldest known law code yet discovered. The third dynasty of Ur fell (1950 B.C.) to the Elamites and later to Babylon. The city was destroyed and rebuilt throughout the years by various kings and conquerors, including Nebuchadnezzar and Nabonidus in the 6th cent. About the middle of the 6th cent., Ur went into a decline from which it never recovered. A record dated 324 B.C. mentions it as being inhabited by Arabs, but by that time its existence as a great city was forgotten. The change in the course of the Euphrates, which had been the source of the city’s wealth, probably contributed to the final decline of Ur. Ur is mentioned often in the Bible (Gen. 11.28,31; 15.7; Neh. 9.7) and was at one period known to the Arabs as Tall al-Muqayyar [mound of pitch].

The Standard of Ur (also known as the "Battle Standard of Ur," or the "Royal Standard of Ur") is a Sumerian artifact excavated from what had been the Royal Cemetery in the ancient city of Ur (located in modern-day Iraq south of Baghdad). History. The artifact was found in one of the largest royal graves at Ur, tomb PG 779, associated with Ur-Pabilsag, a king who died around 2550 BC. It is believed to date to between 2600–2400 BC. Sir Leonard Woolley's excavations in Iraq in 1927-28 uncovered the artifact in the corner of a chamber, lying close to the shoulder of a man who may have held it on a pole. For this reason Woolley interpreted it as a standard, giving the object its popular name, though subsequent investigation has failed to confirm this assumption. Description. The Standard of Ur survived in only a fragmentary condition, as the effects of time over the last several millennia had decayed the wooden frame and bitumen glue which had cemented the mosaic in place. The weight of the soil had crushed the object, fragmenting it and breaking the end panels. The present form of the artifact is a reconstruction, presenting a best guess of its original appearance. It has been reconstructed as a hollow wooden box measuring 21.59 centimetres (8.50 in) wide by 49.53 centimetres (19.50 in) long, inlaid with a mosaic of shell, red limestone and lapis lazuli. The box has an irregular shape with end pieces in the shape of truncated triangles, making it wider at the bottom than at the top. Inlaid mosaic panels cover each long side of the Standard. Each presents a series of scenes displayed in three registers, upper, middle and bottom. The two mosaics have been dubbed "War" and "Peace" for their subject matter, respectively a representation of a military campaign and scenes from a banquet. The panels at each end originally showed fantastical animals but they suffered significant damage while buried, though they have since been restored. [Wikipedia]

Ur in Smiths Bible Dictionary was the land of Haran's nativity, Ge 11:28 the place from which Terah and Abraham started "to go into the land of Canaan." Ge 11:31 It is called in Genesis "Ur of the Chaldaeans," while in the Acts St. Stephen places it, by implication, in Mesopotamia. Ac 7:2,4 These are all the indications which Scripture furnishes as to its locality. It has been identified by the most ancient traditions with the city of Orfah in the highlands of Mesopotamia, which unite the table-land of Armenia to the valley of the Euphrates. In later ages it was called Edessa, and was celebrated as the capital of Abgarus or Acbarus who was said to have received the letter and portrait of our Saviour. "Two, physical features must have secured Orfah, from the earliest times, as a nucleus for the civilization of those regions. One is a high-crested crag, the natural fortifications of the crested citadel....The other is an abundant spring, issuing in a pool of transparent clearness, and embosomed in a mass of luxuriant verdure, which, amidst the dull brown desert all around, makes and must always have made, this spot an oasis, a paradise, in the Chaldaean wilderness. Round this sacred pool,'the beautiful spring Callirrhoe,' as it was called by the Greek writers, gather the modern traditions of the patriarch." --Stanley, Jewish Church, part i.p.7. A second tradition, which appears in the Talmud, finds Ur in Warka, 120 miles southeast from Babylon and four east of the Euphrates. It was the Orchoe of the Greeks, and probably the Ereck of Holy Scripture. This place bears the name of Huruk in the native inscriptions, and was in the countries known to the Jews as the land of the Chaldaeans. But in opposition to the most ancient traditions, many modern writers have fixed the site of Ur at a very different position, viz. in the extreme south of Chaldaea, at Mugheir, not very far above-- and probably in the time of Abraham actually upon-- the head of the Persian Gulf. Among the ruins which are now seen at the spot are the remains of one of the great temples, of a model similar to that of Babel, dedicated to the moon, to whom the city was sacred. (Porter and Rawlinson favor this last place.)

Ur in Fausset's Bible Dictionary Of the Chaldees (Genesis 11:28; Genesis 11:31; Genesis 15:7; Nehemiah 9:7), from which Terah, Abraham, and Lot were called. In Mesopotamia (Acts 7:2). Now Mugheir (a ruined temple of large bitumen bricks, which also "mugheir" means, namely, Um Mugheir "mother of bitumen"), on the right bank of the Euphrates, near its junction with the Shat el Hie from the Tigris; in Chaldaea proper. Called Hur by the natives, and on monuments Ur. The most ancient city of the older Chaldaea. Its bricks bear the name of the earliest monumental kings, "Urukh king of Ur"; his kingdom extended as far N. as Niffer. The royal lists on the monuments enumerate Babylonian kings from Urukh (2230 B.C., possibly the Orchanus of Ovid, Met. 4:212) down to Nabonid (540 B.C.) the last. The temple was sacred to 'Urki, the moon goddess; Ilgi son of Urukh completed it. For two centuries it was the capital, and always was held sacred. One district was "Ibra," perhaps related to "Hebrew," Abraham's designation. Ur was also a cemetery and city of tombs, doubtless because of its sacred character, from whence the dead were brought to it from vast distances for 1,800 years. Eupolemos (in Eusebius, Praep. Ev. 9:17) refers to Ur as "the moon worshipping (kamarine; kamar being Arabic for moon) city." The derivation from Ur, "fire," led to the Koran and Talmud legends that Abraham miraculously escaped out of the flames into which Nimrod or other idolatrous persecutors threw him. Ur lies six miles distant from the present coarse of the Euphrates, and 125 from the sea; though it is thought it was anciently a maritime town, and that its present inland site is due to the accumulation of alluvium (?). The buildings are of the most archaic kind, consisting of low mounds enclosed within an enceinte, on most sides perfect, an oval space 1,000 yards long by 800 broad. The temple is thoroughly Chaldaean in type, in stages of which two remain, of brick partly sunburnt, partly baked, cemented with bitumen.

Ur in Easton's Bible Dictionary light, or the moon city, a city "of the Chaldees," the birthplace of Haran (Gen. 11:28,31), the largest city of Shinar or northern Chaldea, and the principal commercial centre of the country as well as the centre of political power. It stood near the mouth of the Euphrates, on its western bank, and is represented by the mounds (of bricks cemented by bitumen) of el-Mugheir, i.e., "the bitumined," or "the town of bitumen," now 150 miles from the sea and some 6 miles from the Euphrates, a little above the point where it receives the Shat el-Hie, an affluent from the Tigris. It was formerly a maritime city, as the waters of the Persian Gulf reached thus far inland. Ur was the port of Babylonia, whence trade was carried on with the dwellers on the gulf, and with the distant countries of India, Ethiopia, and Egypt. It was abandoned about B.C. 500, but long continued, like Erech, to be a great sacred cemetery city, as is evident from the number of tombs found there. (See ABRAHAM The oldest king of Ur known to us is Ur-Ba'u (servant of the goddess Ba'u), as Hommel reads the name, or Ur-Gur, as others read it. He lived some twenty-eight hundred years B.C., and took part in building the famous temple of the moon-god Sin in Ur itself. The illustration here given represents his cuneiform inscription, written in the Sumerian language, and stamped upon every brick of the temple in Ur. It reads: "Ur-Ba'u, king of Ur, who built the temple of the moon-god." "Ur was consecrated to the worship of Sin, the Babylonian moon-god. It shared this honour, however, with another city, and this city was Haran, or Harran. Harran was in Mesopotamia, and took its name from the highroad which led through it from the east to the west. The name is Babylonian, and bears witness to its having been founded by a Babylonian king. The same witness is still more decisively borne by the worship paid in it to the Babylonian moon-god and by its ancient temple of Sin. Indeed, the temple of the moon-god at Harran was perhaps even more famous in the Assyrian and Babylonian world than the temple of the moon-god at Ur. "Between Ur and Harran there must, consequently, have been a close connection in early times, the record of which has not yet been recovered. It may be that Harran owed its foundation to a king of Ur; at any rate the two cities were bound together by the worship of the same deity, the closest and most enduring bond of union that existed in the ancient world. That Terah should have migrated from Ur to Harran, therefore, ceases to be extraordinary. If he left Ur at all, it was the most natural place to which to go. It was like passing from one court of a temple into another. "Such a remarkable coincidence between the Biblical narrative and the evidence of archaeological research cannot be the result of chance. The narrative must be historical; no writer of late date, even if he were a Babylonian, could have invented a story so exactly in accordance with what we now know to have been the truth. For a story of the kind to have been the invention of Palestinian tradition is equally impossible. To the unprejudiced mind there is no escape from the conclusion that the history of the migration of Terah from Ur to Harran is founded on fact" (Sayce).

UR, one of the most important of the early Babylonian cities, represented to-day by the ruin mounds called Mughair (Moghair), or, more properly, Muqayyar (Mukayyar), "the pitched," or "pitch-built." It lay 140 m. S.E. of Babylon (3 0 95' N., 46° 5' E.), about 6 m. S. of the present bed of the Euphrates, half-way between that and the low, pebbly sandstone hills which form the border of the Syrian desert, and almost opposite the mouth of the Shatt-el-Hai, on the Sa'ade canal. It was the site of a famous temple, E-Nannar, "house of Nannar," and the chief seat in Babylonia of the worship of the moon-god, Nannar, later known as Sin. Under the title Ur of the Chaldees, it is mentioned in the Bible as the original home of Abraham. It is worthy of notice that Haran, in upper Mesopotamia, which also was a home of Abraham, was likewise a famous site of worship of the god Sin, and that the name of that god also appears in Mount Sinai, which was historically connected with the origin of the Hebrew nation and religion. While not equal, apparently, in antiquity, and >><< certainly not in religious importance, to the cities of Nippur, Eridu and Erech, Ur, from a very early period, played a most important part politically and commercially. Lying at the junction of the Euphrates and Tigris, at the head of the Persian Gulf, it enjoyed very extensive water-communications with rich and important regions. Lying close to the Syrian desert, at a natural point of communication with Arabia, it was the centre of caravan communication with interior, southern and western Arabia. In the Sumerian period, antedating the time of Sargon, about or before 3000 B.C., we find Ur exercising hegemony in Babylonia under a king whose name is read Lugal-Kigub-Nidudu. Comparatively early, however, it became a centre of Semitic influence and power, and immediately after the time of the Sargonids it comes to the front, under King Ur-Gur, or Ur-Engur, the great builder of ziggurats (stagetowers) in the ancient Babylonian cities, as mistress of both northern and southern Babylonia, and even seems to have exacted tribute from countries as far remote as southern Syria. With relatively brief intervals, during which Erech and Isin come to the fore, Ur held the hegemony in Babylonia until or shortly before the Elamite invasion, when Larsa became the seat of authority. After the period of the Elamite dominion and the establishment of the empire of Babylon, under Khammurabi, about or shortly after 2000 B.C., Ur lost its political independence and, to a considerable extent, its political importance. The gradual filling up of the Persian Gulf had probably also begun to interfere with its trade supremacy. It continued, however, to be a place of religious and literary importance until the close of the Babylonian period. The ruins of the ancient site were partly excavated by Loftus and Taylor in 1854. They are egg-shaped, with the sharper end towards the north-west, somewhat elevated above the surrounding country, which is liable to be inundated by the Euphrates, and encircled by a wall 2946 yards in circumference, with a length of 1056 and a greatest breadth of 825 yds. The principal ruin is the temple of E - Nannar, in the north-western part of the mounds. This was surrounded by a low outer wall, within which rose a platform, about 20 ft. in height, on which stood a two-storeyed ziggurat, or stage-tower, a right-angled parallelogram in shape, the long sides towards the north-east and south-west. The lower stage measured 198 ft. in length by 133 ft. in breadth, and is still standing to the height of 27 ft. The second storey was 14 ft. in height and measured 119 by 75 ft. The ascent to the first storey was by a stairway 8 ft. broad, on the north-east side. Access to the summit of the second storey was had on the same side, either by an inclined plane or a broad stairway - it is not clear which - extending, apparently, the whole length of that stage. Ruins on the summit show that there was a chamber on top, apparently of a very ornamental character, like that at Eridu. The bricks of the lower stage are laid in bitumen, and bear the inscription of Ur-Gur. The bricks of the upper stage are laid in mortar, and clay cylinders found in the four corners of this stage bore an inscription of Nabonidus, the last king of Babylon (639 B.C.), closing with a prayer for his son Belshar-uzur (Bel-sarra-Uzur), the Belshazzar of the book of Daniel. Between these two extremes were found evidences of restoration by Ishme-Dagan of Isin and Gimil-Sin of Ur, somewhere towards the middle of the 3rd millennium B.C., and of Kuri-galzu, a Cossaean (Kassite) king of Babylon, of the 14th century B.C. Nebuchadrezzar also claims to have rebuilt this temple. Taylor further excavated an interesting Babylonian building, not far from the temple, and part of an ancient Babylonian necropolis. All about the city he found abundant remains of burials of later periods. Apparently, in the later times, owing to its sanctity, Ur became a favourite place of sepulture, so that after it had ceased to be inhabited it still continued to be used as a necropolis. The great quantity of pitch used in the construction of these ruins, which has given them the name by which they are to-day known among the Arabs, is evidence of a peculiarly close relation with some pitch-producing neighbourhood, presumably Hit, which lay at the head of the Sa'ade canal on which Ur was located. Large piles of slab and scoria, in the neighbourhood of Ur, show, apparently, that the pitch was also used for manufacturing purposes, and that Ur was a manufacturing as well as a commercial city. Since Taylor's time Mughair has been visited by numerous travellers, almost all of whom have found ancient Babylonian remains, inscribed stones and the like, lying upon the surface. The site is rich in remains, and is relatively easy to explore. [Encyclopaedia Britannica 1911]

Genesis 11:28 - And Haran died before his father Terah in the land of his nativity, in Ur of the Chaldees.

Genesis 11:31 - And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran his son's son, and Sarai his daughter in law, his son Abram's wife; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there.

Genesis 15:7 - And he said unto him, I [am] the LORD that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it.

Related Pages:

Ancient Babylonia - Ur

Ancient Babylonia - The Ziggurat

Ziggurat at Ur of the Chaldees

Ur - Biblical Meaning of Ur in Eastons Bible Dictionary

Ancient Harp from Ur

Ur - Biblical Definition of Ur in Fausset's Bible Dictionary

UR OF THE CHALDEES in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE

Ancient Babylonia

Law-Codex of Hammurabi

CODE Of HAMMURABI in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE

AMRAPHEL in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE

Bible History Links - Ancient Near East: People

Bible History Links - Ancient Near East : Art & Images 2

Bible History Links - Ancient Near East

Bible History Links - Ancient Near East : Ancient Texts

Bible History : People in the Bible

Ancient Sketches


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