On May 28, 2015, the Head of Art History at University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Holly Pittman, was invited to AUIS to give a talk on Queen Puabi, one of the most famous queens of Sumer, the oldest civilization of Mesopotamia, and the treasures of the Royal Tombs of Ur. The site was excavated first in the 1920s and has provided one of the greatest collection of artefacts from ancient Sumer. Dr. Pittman has recently been working on a travelling exhibit of the Royal Tombs of Ur in the United States.
Queen Puabi’s graves at Ur showcase the immense wealth of the earliest cities of Iraq and also raises questions about the status of women and the role of the afterlife in the ancient Mesopotamia. Puabi's grave is exceptional in that a large number of courtiers, both men and women, were sent to their deaths along with her when she died. It is the most famous case of mass suicide in ancient Mesopotamia.
Listen to Dr. Pittman’s lecture in the podcast below.
Dr. Pittman was visiting AUIS as part of a group of American archaeologists currently travelling through the Kurdistan region. She was accompanied by Elizabeth Carter, Professor of Near Eastern Archaeology at UCLA, who has spent many years working in Iran and Iraq and has written an important textbook on Iranian archaeology. The presentation began with Dr. Carter providing a brief introduction to Sumer and Ur. Dr. Pittman then talked in detail about the Royal Tombs of Ur and specifically about the artefacts discovered from Queen Puabi’s graves.
The presentation ended with a short talk by Breton Langendorfer, a Ph.D. student of Near Eastern Art History specializing in ancient Assyria. He talked briefly about his dissertation on Assyrian reliefs and how they tell the story of destruction of cities in ancient Assyria.
The lecture was arranged by Tobin Hartnell, archaeologist and assistant professor of Social Sciences at AUIS.
Check out our Facebook page for photos from the presentation.