| ||Royal Cemetery | PG ||The excavation area abbreviation PG grew to refer to a large region, at least 60x80 meters, in the southeastern portion of the Neo-Babylonian temenos but below the level of that wall. The area is most often referred to as the Royal Cemetery. The abbreviation PG, however, was initially used to designate individual graves: PG1422, for example, refers to Private Grave number 1422. The first PG numbers were assigned in season 5 when a series of trial trenches (see TTD, TTE, TTF, and TTG) were excavated in the area. These trenches were expanded to uncover more and more graves over the next few seasons. The last number assigned in the PG sequence was around 1850 but numbers were often reassigned for publication and even in the field some numbers were combined as they were recognized to come from one large grave rather than two separate ones. Others were deemed to fragmentary to publish; furthermore, several hundred additional graves were found in Pit X, an expansion of the PG area dug in 1934. The total number of graves excavated in the Royal Cemetery is thus extremely difficult to determine. Woolley reports that there may once have been as many as three times the total number of graves he recorded, as he found many plundered and almost completely destroyed.
Despite being called the Royal Cemetery, there were only 16 graves that Woolley actually dubbed 'royal.' He believed that these formed the core of the burial ground and that many other people wanted to be buried nearby. The cemetery lay outside of the original temenos, the core of the city, and was apparently a dumping ground through much of its history. Stratigraphic layers of sealings (see SIS) help to date the main period of the Royal Cemetery to the Early Dynastic III, though there are also graves of the Akkadian and perhaps some of the early Ur III period here. Well beneath the main PG area are also graves of the Uruk and Ubaid periods, but these were mainly uncovered in pits dug within or adjacent to area PG (see PJ, Pit W, Pit X, Pit Y and Pit Z).
Most burials in area PG were simple inhumations with few artifacts, but the ones Woolley called royal were much more elaborate. Apart from having rich artifacts, they also showed evidence of human sacrifice -- many bodies were found in 'death pits' outside the main 'royal' burial. The people found in these death pits may have been attendants who went into the afterlife with their king or queen, yet no other indication of this practice is found elsewhere in Mesopotamia. Nor do we know who these 'kings and queens' were. The dating of the graves makes it difficult to associate them with a known dynasty at Ur and there were very few names found with any of the bodies. Only the burial of Puabi, the Queen, can be directly identified by her cylinder seal and she does not appear on any king list. References to Mesannepada and his wife Ninbanda, a king and queen of the first dynasty of Ur, were found but not in specific graves. Instead, they were found in material above the main graves and would imply that the royal tombs pre-date the first dynasty.
Woolley spent a great deal of time and energy excavating the Royal Cemetery and the majority of his field notes concern it. Recording of contexts here, then, is better than anywhere else at Ur. Nonetheless, not all of the graves were mapped and photographs were often difficult to obtain. ||(none) |