The fifth season at Ur led by Sir Leonard Woolley. 1926-1927
The fifth season at Ur led by Sir Leonard Woolley. 1926-1927
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|Object||U Number||Museum Number (UPM Date Reg Number)||Museum Number (BM Registration Number)||Museum Number (UPM B-number)||Description (Catalog Card)|
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|Location||Context Title||Context Description||Description (Modern)|
|TTD||TTD is shorthand for Trial Trench D, one of two initial trenches dug in season 5 to extend TTA from season 1. Woolley dug TTD and TTE to search for graves in what he believed was a potentially vast cemetery. Neither of these trenches were ever mapped and no aerial photos show them, as by the time of the 1930 RAF photograph the trial trenches had been so extended that most of the Royal Cemetery area had already been exposed. Luckily, Woolley's field records allow us to reconstruct the direction and extents of the trench. He states that it ran from the head (northeast end) of TTA and extended southeastward to the east corner of the Neo-Babylonian temenos wall, making it about 65 meters in length. Though he does not tell us its width it is likely that it was about 4 meters, the same as the measurable trial trenches A, B, and C. TTD did not reveal much, but it was only excavated to a depth of around 2 meters. As Woolley reports in the Antiquaries Journal volume 7 page 1: "The trench to the temenos angle produced no sign of buildings, but for the greater part of its length a floor of beaten mud, lying about 1.75 m. below the present surface, at which level we stopped short." It had just missed the south corner of the Mausoleum of the Ur III kings, and when area PG was expanded beneath the level of TTD in season 8, many graves were recorded here.||(none)|
|TTE||TTE is shorthand for Trial Trench E, one of two initial trenches dug in season 5 to extend TTA from season 1. Woolley dug TTE and TTD at right angles to each other in order to search for graves in what he believed was a potentially vast cemetery. These trenches were never mapped and no aerial photos show them, as by the time of the 1930 photograph the trial trenches had been so extended that most of the Royal Cemetery area was exposed. Fortunately, Woolley's field records allow us to reconstruct its direction and extents. He states that TTE extended southwest to the south gate of the Neo-Babylonian temenos wall. This would make it about 85 meters in length, and though he does not tell us its width it is likely that it was around 4 meters, the same as the measurable trial trenches A, B, and C. Although Woolley reports that he dug "two long trenches running diagonally across the site from the head of the old trench" only TTD can actually have begun at the northern end of TTA. TTE extends at a right angle to TTD, but it does so 8 meters from the northeast corner of TTA. In order to place TTE accurately, other information has been used from field notes and publications. These show that TTE struck PG580 but did not completely reveal it. In fact, Woolley began to dig part of PG580 from the side of the trial trench because he had cut through it without recognizing its full importance. He had to leave this particular grave at the end of the season and return to it in season 6. TTE also hit the stone roofing of PG777 but left it intact. PG580 and PG777 were mapped and show the direction and general placement of TTE. TTE almost immediately began revealing graves, some of them relatively rich in gold jewelry. It is probably for this reason that Woolley did not continue TTD to any great depth but chose instead to focus on TTE. In fact, he later began extending TTE into new trenches along the same line (TTF and TTG). He assigned numbers to each grave as it was uncovered, preceded by the abbreviation PG (Private Grave). The initial sequence, PG1-PG226 were all located within TTE. The sequence then began to share with TTF and eventually with TTG. Unfortunately, none of the first 579 graves were ever mapped within the length of their trial trenches.||(none)|
|TTF||TTF is shorthand for Trial Trench F, the first extension of TTE. Like the other trenches in the royal cemetery it was never mapped and does not appear on an aerial photograph. The trench was dug on the same lines as TTE, essentially extending its width, and the only report that shows its southern line is a mention of the location of PG513 within it. This grave rested upon the ruined northwest wall of PG777, which means that TTF must have met TTE at PG777, since the roof of that grave was revealed in TTE. TTF therefore extended the width of TTE to the northwest. The calculated location of TTF crosses over at least the southern end of TTA. This trench had been dug four years prior and had not been overly deep. It would likely have been mostly collapsed by this point, accounting for the somewhat different line of it and the season 5 trenches TTE, TTF, and TTG. While TTE was almost certainly around 4 meters in width as had been previous trial trenches, TTF and TTG may have been wider in order to find more graves. The only indication is the 1930 aerial photograph that shows an extent in the northwest portion of the cemetery that may go as far as 17 meters from the northwest edge of TTE. It is by no means certain, but a trench width of 6-7 meters (twice that of TTE) is suggested for each of TTF and TTG. The first grave to be given a PG number in TTF was PG227. From this point, the sequence of grave numbers is shared between the two trenches, eventually to be supplemented with TTG.||(none)|
|TTG||TTG is shorthand for Trial Trench G, the second extension of TTE, actually extending TTF and obliterating TTA. Like the other trenches in the Royal Cemetery it was never mapped and does not appear on an aerial photograph. The trench was dug on the same lines as TTF, essentially extending its width to the northwest. The first grave to be numbered in this trench was PG355, but the sequence from this point up to PG580 is shared among the three trenches. This trial trench and TTF may have been about 5 meters wide, somewhat wider than other trial trenches as Woolley continued to expand, though there is no proof of this other than a slight indication on the 1930 aerial photograph. Excavation while the three trenches were open would have resembled a wide stair case, with TTE being the lowest in the southeast, TTF somewhat higher to the northwest, and TTG higher still. By the end of the season, all three trenches had reached at least 5 meters depth, though TTE had reached 9 meters. The northwest portion of the cemetery did not produce as many graves as the southeast and Woolley extended excavations in the following season over a large area southeast of TTE, beginning with PG580. He also began to map individual graves in the overall area at this point.||(none)|
|SM||The meaning of this excavation area abbreviation is not clear, but its location is known to be immediately southeast of the giparu (KP) extending to the ehursag (HT) in the east. Badly preserved remains of a building were found here, distinct from the giparu. On a tentative reconstruction of the ground plan, Woolley suggests the original structure measured some 35x40 meters. The building remains date to the Isin-Larsa/Old Babylonian period and many small tablets recording business transactions were found within. T.C. Mitchell, editing the UE 7 volume published after Woolley's death, notes that many of these tablets actually date to the reigns of Shulgi and Amar-Sin. According to Woolley, some of the tablets were twisted together as if in the process of being recycled to reuse their clay for new tablets. He also suggests, very tentatively and based only on a few minor and out-of-place bricks, that this building was originally a temple to Nin-Ezen.||(none)|
|Temenos Wall | TW||The excavation area abbreviation TW stands for Temenos Wall, a wall that surrounded the ziggurat terrace and its extended sacred space in the northern central portion of the city of Ur through much of its history. The wall may have begun in the Early Dynastic period, as Woolley found some indication of what he believed to be its earliest foundation. There was clearly an Ur III period version that ran south of the giparu and then further southeast to encompass the ehursag. This was the general line of the wall through the Isin-Larsa/Old Babylonian and into the Kassite period, though the Kassites made some changes in the northern portion. Finally, the Neo-Babylonians changed the wall greatly, expanding the area encompassed to the north and south and adding several gateways. The foundations of this later, quite massive, wall often destroyed earlier remains. Woolley explored parts of the temenos wall in many seasons and frequently used the TW abbreviation for the wall in any of its building periods. Other excavation area abbreviations include parts of the temenos, particularly NCF, PDW and BC. The temenos wall built by Urnamma was 6 meters thick and built of mud brick with a baked brick facing. Most of the baked brick had been removed, probably for later building. The Nebuchadnezzar and Nabonidus temenos wall had chambers within it and sported six gates into the temenos area. This area was known as e-gish-nu-gal (Woolley read this e-gish-shir-gal). At least one later interpretation conflates TW with the phrase Town Wall, but the wall surrounding Ur was always referred to as the city wall, (CLW).||(none)|
|Ziggurat Terrace | ZT||The excavation area abbreviation ZT stands for Ziggurat Terrace. It was used for any portion of the terrace on which the ziggurat stood, though other more specific abbreviations were also used. For example, the abbreviation PDW refers to the northern side of the terrace, west of the Great Nannar Courtyard (PD), and HD refers to the southern part of the terrace. Early references using the abbreviation ZT refer specifically to excavations along the terrace retaining wall itself. Later references, however, mention specific areas on top the terrace such as the so-called 'boat shrine.' The abbreviation also refers to deep clearing of the terrace fill, particularly on the north side in later excavation seasons, though the abbreviation Zig.31 was most often used for this. Woolley uncovered large areas of the retaining wall that supported the platform known as the ziggurat terrace. He found that it was decorated with large wall cones. These cones bore an inscription of Urnamma but there is evidence that the terrace in some form existed in the Early Dynastic period as well. The Urnamma retaining wall was slanted to support the terrace, was 1.7 meters high, 34 meters wide, and was decorated with 5-meter-wide buttresses about 4 meters apart. The inscribed cones dedicate the terrace to the moon god, Nanna, and show that it was called e-temen-ni-gur, which translates as, "house, foundation platform clad in terror." (Woolley read this e-temen-ni-il).||(none)|
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|Algernon Stuart Whitburn||Responsible for the ground plans of the Nannar courtyard and details of the northwest terrace, Algernon (known as Algy) Whitburn worked as archaeological architect at Ur from 1925 to 1930. He had enlisted in the Surrey Yeomanry at the start of the First World War, and was gazetted a Second Lieutenant in June 1915. Badly wounded at Vimy Ridge in 1916, Whitburn spent two years in hospital, and thereafter walked with a limp. After the War, he resumed his training as an architect. He was recommended to Woolley by the head of the firm for which he worked, who was a friend of Leonard Woolley. Whitburn replaced F.G. Newton, who had been the first archaeological architect at Ur from 1922. He began work at Ur at the same time as Max Mallowan and the two men became lifelong friends. There is a copy of a letter from Mallowan to Whitburn telling him of his marriage to Agatha Christie in 1930 before it became public knowledge. Despite his injury which caused him much discomfort, Whitburn had a great sense of humour and a store of funny stories. Woolley described him in a letter to Sir Frederic Kenyon, the Chairman of the Trustees at the British Museum, as irrepressibly talkative, amazingly self-centred, very good-hearted with a somewhat vulgar manner I like him and his work is really valuable. There are in the Ur archive a number of photographs of Algy Whitburn, often striking a pose or playing a joke on other members of the expedition. There is a Christmas card to Whitburn written by Katharine Woolley in 1927 and also a poem written by her on receipt of a box of marrons glacés sent by Whitburn for Christmas 1928 concluding with the stanza: But we finished the marrons and voted them fine And drank Whitburns health in a bottle of wine Which the exiles agreed without any demur Was no more than his due who sent marrons to UR.|
|Charles Leonard Woolley||Prominent British archaeologist whose excavation work includes digs at Roman Corbridge, Carchemish for the British Museum, Ur, and Al Mina and Tell Atchana in Syria. Knighted in 1935 for his contributions to the discipline of archaeology. , Trained as an archaeologist at Oxford University and excavated in Roman Britain (Corbridge) briefly, then in the Sudan under British-born American archaeologist David Randall-MacIver, who was a curator at the Penn Museum. Woolley then conducted excavations at Carchemish near the current Syrian/Turkish border from 1911-1914. In World War I, Woolley's knowledge of the Middle East was extremely valuable and he worked for British Intelligence. Even before the War he was essentially spying on the German railroad that was under construction near Carchemish (the Berlin-Baghdad Railway). Relatively early in the war, however, Woolley was captured and spent two years in a Turkish POW camp. Woolley was chosen to lead the expedition to Ur as early as 1920 when the two museums began to discuss the details of a joint excavation. He began work at the site late in 1922 and completed excavations in 1934, working long hours and accomplishing a great deal. He was knighted in 1935 for his work at Ur. He went on to run excavations at Al Mina and Alalakh in Syria. In his lifetime he gave many lectures and wrote many articles and books but never held an academic position. He died in 1960 and was lauded by generations of scholars around the world for his contributions to the field of archaeology., Leonard Woolley was the third of eleven children of a Church of England clergyman, George Herbert Woolley, and his wife Sarah. He attended St Johns, Leatherhead, and New College, Oxford where he studied Classics and theology. It was the warden of New College, W.A. Spooner, who advised him to take up archaeology after graduation. In 1905 Woolley was appointed assistant to Arthur Evans, Keeper of the Ashmolean Museum, in Oxford. Woolleys early career took him to Nubia in 190711, and after that he went as director of the Carchemish expedition sponsored by the British Museum. One of his assistants was T.E. Lawrence (better known as Lawrence of Arabia). Woolley and Lawrence collaborated in assisting the Palestine Exploration Fund in its programme of making a definitive map of the Holy Land. This work was published in 1915 as The Wilderness of Zin. After the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, Woolley was posted to Cairo where he acted as an intelligence officer. He was promoted to the rank of major in 1916 before being captured by the Turks and imprisoned at Kastamonu. He tried to return to Carchemish after the War but the political situation was too unsettled. In 1921, he excavated at Tell el-Amarna in Egypt with T.E. Peet, sponsored by the Egypt Exploration Society. In 1922, Woolley was made director of a joint expedition at Ur funded by the British Museum and The University of Pennsylvania Museum. It is with this site that his name will always be associated. He spent twelve years there, until 1934. Within two years of his arrival, Gertrude Bell had established the Iraq Museum in Baghdad which had a statutory right to first choice of all objects excavated. So rich were the finds from the site, however, especially from the Royal Cemetery, that both the British Museum and Penn Museum also contain fabulous objects from Ur in their collections. Woolleys strengths were his painstaking approach to excavation; for example, excavation of the Royal Cemetery was delayed until he believed his local workforce was sufficiently well-trained to tackle the intricate disclosure of these opulent tombs. He also monitored and instructed his own staff, in particular Max Mallowan who early on acquired the habit of keeping careful field notes, making drawings, preparing monthly reports for sponsors, and most important, publishing in full each seasons work and finds as soon as possible after the seasons end. Woolley had a way with words and both his non-specialist books and lantern slide lectures were very popular with the public. His weakness was a familiarity with the Old Testament which led to unfounded connections between it and the work in hand, as for example, his belief that Ur was the birthplace of Abraham. Woolley also believed he had found evidence of The Flood. After Ur, Woolley moved to Tell Atchana in northern Syria, digging there before the War in 193739, and after it, from 1946¬49. He was knighted for his services to archaeology in 1935. During the Second World War, Woolley worked for the Military Intelligence Directorate to assess and protect art and museum collections throughout Europe. He reported to Winston Churchill personally. In this work he was most ably assisted by his wife Katharine. After Katharines death and the end of his active archaeological career at Atchana, Woolley retired to Ashford in Kent. After an unsuccessful relationship, he retired to Dorset where he was looked after by a devoted housekeeper and her husband, thus enabling him to write up his archaeological work.|
|Eric R. Burrows||Rev. Burrows was the epigraphist at Ur from 1926-1930. He was a Jesuit priest who is said to have dressed on the dig very much as he did back in England, though photos of Woolley and others show that it was typical to wear jacket and tie even in the field. Contrary to his predecessor, Leon Legrain, Burrows is said to have had few social graces and Woolley commented that he was "a man of very little stamina." This was in reference to an illness Burrows suffered in his first year at Ur, eventually diagnosed as "dysentery and malaria." He had a high fever and had to be removed to hospital at Basra. He recovered and returned to Ur for every season up to 1930, so perhaps he had stamina after all. Burrows studied Assyriology at Felstead and Keble College in Oxford and specialized in cuneiform epigraphy. He assisted with the official publications of many of the cuneiform tablets from Ur, including the archaic texts. He died relatively young, in a car accident in 1938.|
|Ibrahim ibn Hamoudi||Hamoudi's second son; he acted as junior foreman at the site but died young in 1932.|
|Katharine Elizabeth (Menke) (Keeling) Woolley||Born to German parents in England, Katharine Menke studied history at Somerville College. She did not complete a degree due to health problems, and her health continued to give her trouble throughout her life. In fact, there are many indications that she suffered from a condition known as complete androgen insensitivity syndrome, though her life is somewhat mysterious as she had all of her papers burned on her death. She married Colonel Bertram Keeling in 1919, but he died later that same year. The widowed Mrs. Keeling joined Woolley's excavation at Ur as an artist in 1925. A young single woman on the dig stirred controversy; particularly among the Trustees at Penn. Woolley solved the problem by marrying her in 1927. Most descriptions of her say she was charming but also rather cold and manipulative. Nevertheless, she was a talented artist and very capable as an archaeologist. She came to be the primary assistant to Woolley's excavations in the final Ur excavation years, after Mallowan left in 1931. Agatha Christie is said to have styled the murder victim in her book Murder in Mesopotamia after Katharine Woolley., Katharine Menke was born in Birmingham to German parents. Her father, Carl Menke, was a well-to-do general merchant who later became the German and Swiss Consul in Birmingham. Katharine attended a grammar school in Birmingham and then went up to Somerville College, Oxford, to read Modern History, but ill health forced her to leave before she had taken her degree. Despite difficulties with her German parentage, she joined the Red Cross in 1915 and was shortly posted to Alexandria where she worked in one of the large field hospitals. At the end of the First World War, she went to Poland to a former concentration camp housing some 7000 Bolshevik troops being detained in terrible conditions. Menke returned to London in 1919 when she met her first husband, Bertram Francis Eardley Keeling OBE, MC, RE. They married in March 1919. In September 1919, shortly after their arrival in Cairo where Keeling was Director-General of the Survey of Egypt and President of the Cotton Research Board, her husband committed suicide. Katharine Keeling travelled to Baghdad in 1924 with a letter of introduction to Gertrude Bell. She was staying with Lt.Col. J.R. Tainsh, Director of the Iraq State Railways, and his wife. They had taken Katharine to see the excavations at Ur, where she impressed Leonard Woolley with her ability to draw accurately some of the objects emerging from the excavations. Mainly because of this, but also because Woolley had succumbed to her undoubted charm of manner and appearance, he invited her to make a long stay during 1925, and then offered her a post as volunteer at Ur. Her official period as artist to the expedition began in the spring of 1926 when Mallowan helped extend the expedition house at Ur to include a bathroom for her use. The first mention of a payment to K.K. for £51.172.3d appears on the accounts at the end of the 1925/1926 season. She continued until the excavations closed in 1934. Katharine married Woolley in April 1927, mainly because George Gordon, the Director of the University of Pennsylvania Museum at Philadelphia, insisted that a situation in which a single woman was living in the expedition house with single men was untenable. A letter from Woolley to a legal representative in 1928 makes it clear that the marriage remained unconsummated but its threat to seek an annulment was never implemented. The Woolleys remained married and there is no doubt that Katharines contributions to Woolleys excavations greatly enhanced his career. During the Second World War, Woolley worked closely with Winston Churchill and the Military Intelligence Directorate to monitor Nazi looting of European museums, art collections and royal archives. In this work, Katharine supplied invaluable assistance. Churchill had the Woolleys moved to the Dorchester Hotel in Park Lane in October 1943, and it was there, in November 1945 that Katharine died. Her death certificate put multiple sclerosis (from which she had suffered for over a decade) as the cause of her death.|
|Max Edgar Lucien Mallowan||Apprentice to Woolley during the Ur excavations, going on to excavate at Nineveh and direct excavations at Tell Arpachiyah, and the sites of Chagar Bazar and Tell Brak in Syria., Studied Classics at Oxford University and became general assistant to Leonard Woolley at Ur in 1925, having no prior field experience. He spent six seasons at Ur, gaining increasing knowledge of the field. In 1931 he left Ur to work with Reginald Campbell Thompson in northern Iraq and quickly moved on to head his own excavations in Syria at Tell Arpachiyah, Chagar Bazar, and then Tell Brak. Despite his many contributions to the field of archaeology, he is perhaps best known for having married the famous mystery writer, Agatha Christie, becoming her second husband in 1930. Mallowan was knighted in 1968 for his contributions to archaeology. He wrote many books and articles in his lifetime, including portions of the Ur Excavation series. He became professor of archaeology at London University in 1947 and died in 1978. , Max Mallowan was engaged as junior field archaeologist at Ur by Leonard Woolley between 1925 and 1931. He had just graduated from Oxford with a degree in Classical Greats but with no idea of a future career. A chance encounter led to his interview with Woolley at the British Museum, and his subsequent appointment. Ever careful not to squander funds, Woolley organised a free passage for his young assistant as a seaman on an oil tanker sailing from London to Port Said. At Beirut, Mallowan met Algy Whitburn and the two travelled together overland to Ur Junction where they met Woolley at the somewhat sparse expedition house. Woolley made it abundantly clear that they were there to work and he himself set a punishing schedule. The young men were expected to be on site half an hour after sunrise and to work until well after dinner writing up the days finds. Mallowan was lucky to have Woolley as his mentor. Not only did he instruct Mallowan in the rudiments of archaeology, but he also impressed upon him the importance of keeping precise daily field notes of all work going on, and also the necessity to publish that work, and especially any particularly interesting finds in order to inspire future sponsors. Woolley also insisted that Mallowan learn Arabic so that he could communicate with the workforce, which numbered between 200 and 250 men. That first season, Mallowan also kept the pay book, acted as untrained medical assistant, showed visitors round the site, and helped to build a new wing on to the expedition house. This extension was for the benefit of Katharine Keeling, an unpaid volunteer whom Woolley had engaged to do all the drawing of objects found on the site, and to whom Woolley was singularly attached. Mallowan resigned from his role at Ur after his marriage to Agatha Christie in 1930, because Katharine Woolley (she had married Woolley in 1927) insisted that there was room for only one woman at Ur. After Ur, Mallowan dug for one season at Nineveh with Reginald Campbell-Thompson, and thereafter conducted his own digs. In the years leading up to the Second World War, he excavated at Arpachiyah, Chagar Bazar and Tell Brak, as well as conducting a survey of the Khabur Valley. After the War, as Professor of Western Asiatic Archaeology at the Institute of Archaeology, he excavated at Nimrud (19491957) before handing over to David Oates. After Agatha Christies death in 1976 he remarried Barbara Parker, his epigraphist at Nimrud.|
|Sheikh Hamoudi Ibn Ibrahim||Little is known about Hamoudis origins. Even his dates of birth and death are unknown. He is first known from the Carchemish excavations before the First World War, where he was in charge of organising and controlling the expedition workforce. Hamoudi also made himself indispensable in other ways, including administering medicine, and is credited with saving Lawrences life when he contracted typhoid fever. In June 1913, Lawrence and Woolley took Hamoudi to England, and they visited Oxford. The visit left a deep impression on Hamoudi. In 1914, Woolley and Lawrence shut down the site at Carchemish and both men were soon involved in military concerns. Woolley returned to Carchemish in 191920, but was unable to resume excavation because of the political situation. When Woolley was appointed Director of the joint British Museum/University of Pennsylvania Museum expedition to Ur in 1922, Hamoudi was appointed foreman. Described then as an elderly man, he brought with him two sons who worked under their father in organising the workforce. There are several photographs of Hamoudi at Ur, including some which show him in the same line as the Woolleys and the rest of the team. He was clearly a much-valued member of that team. At the start of every season, he would meet Woolley in Baghdad to discuss the ordering of stores of food and excavation essentials, then arrange for their transport to Ur. He also took instructions about work to be carried out to the expedition house before Woolley and his wife arrived. Mallowan frequently mentioned Hamoudi in a diary kept during 1925 and 1926. In October 1926 he reports buying presents (sundry decorative articles) in Paris on his way to Ur for Hamoudi and his (by then) three sons working at Ur: Yahia, Ibrahim and Isa. Undergoing an emotional crisis after the death of one of his closest friends, Mallowan went to talk things over with Hamoudi, that tower of philosophy. Hamoudi went on to be part of Mallowans digs in northern Syria at Chagar Bazar and Tell Brak. Agatha (Christie) related how he and two of his sons reported for duty at 5 a.m. while the Mallowans were still fast asleep in their hotel room. In 1949, when Mallowan was about to begin excavating at Nimrud, he found that Hamoudi had been awarded the Kings Medal for Service in the Cause of Freedom (KMS) for his services to British interests during the War. How long after this Hamoudi died is not recorded. Katharine Woolley made a bronze head of Hamoudi, which was once in the collection of the Horniman Museum, but the Museum does not have it now, and have no recollection of what happened to it. It was much admired at the time and considered to have been a good likeness.|
|Yahia ibn Hamoudi||Hamoudi's eldest son; acted as junior foreman, clerk, and staff photographer|
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