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Distributed for Karolinum Press, Charles University

Signs from Silence

Ur of the First Sumerians

The Royal Tombs of Ur, dating from approximately 3000–2700 BCE, are among the most famous and impressive archeological discoveries of the twentieth century. Excavated between 1922 and 1934 under the direction of Leonard Woolley, this site is one of the richest sources of information we have about ancient Sumer—however, many mysteries about the society that produced these tombs remain. Based on primary research with the Ur materials at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology, and paying particular attention to the iconography found in what Woolley referred to as the “Seal Impression Strata of Ur,” this book works to reconstruct the early history of Sumer. What was this society like? What social structures did this society build? What were its institutions of authority? The answers Petr Charvát proposes are of interest not only to archeologists, but to anyone fascinated by early human history.

350 pages | 6 halftones, 148 line drawings, 15 charts | 5 x 8 | © 2015

History: Ancient and Classical History

Table of Contents

I. Archaeology: light out of the shadows of past ages?
Woolley’s Pit F and the SIS
Woolley’s Jamdat Nasr Cemetery (JNC) and the SIS
So what?
II. Inscribed seals from archaic Ur
III. The city of Ur at the beginning of the third millennium: images and signs, words and notions in seals
Banquet scenes
Dance scenes
Birthing scenes
Coitus scenes
AMOR: Emblems
Humans at work
Honour to gods
Honour to communities
Honour to princes
Waters of death?
Voices and images of the past: Signs of proto-cuneiform writing within seal iconography of archaic Ur
As time goes by: archaic Ur seal imagery within the development of Sumerian glyptic, c. 3500-2200 B.C.
The ancestral experience: Late Uruk- Jemdet Nasr glyptic
The inheritors of archaic Ur: later third-millenium Sumerian glyptic
IV. The city of Ur at the beginning of the third millennium:
Summary of written and archaeological evidence
The city of Ur in the incipient third millennium
Trade, change, innovation
V. Conclusions
References cited
Concordance of excavation numbers of objects included in the text of this book
Concordance of museum numbers of objects included in the text of this book
Cuneiform texts cited herewith
Sumerian signs and names
Akkadian words and phrases
Eblaite phrases
Hurrian words
Reigster of Anepigraphic Seals Published in UE III and Referred to in this book

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