Sunday 19 July 2020

Diadem of the Queen Puabi

This beautiful object is the so called "diadem of the Queen Puabi".

It was found together with huge number of other precious objects in a tomb of Puabi, Sumerian queen (or priestess) who lived and died in Ur around 2600BC... 

The diadem is made from a belt constructed from thousands of tiny lapis lazuli beads, on to which 4 pairs of golden animals (sheep, gazelles (goats), deers, cattle) and various plants (apples, dates) were attached...

Queen Puabi's grave was discovered by the British archaeologist Leonard Woolley who excavated it between 1922 and 1934.  When Woolley discovered thousands of pieces of jewellery next to the head of Queen Puabi, he assumed they formed a single piece...

So he recreated one piece of jewellery that he identified as a diadem. During exhibition preparation, the curators realised that instead of one unified piece of jewellery, the components of the “diadem” were, in fact, as many as five individual pieces, part of an ensemble...

This was especially obvious from the different types of bale (the hollow form through which string passes). The animals, and plants of various kinds were originally suspended from strings of lapis beads that made up necklaces and bracelets for the queen...

And here I would like to propose that whoever finally assembled this lapis lazuli - gold diadem (Woolley or someone else), made a mistake and didn't put the animals in the correct order...πŸ™‚ 

I know, I am a stickler for animal ordering...

The order of animals on the reconstructed diadem is gazelles/goats-cattle-deer-sheep...I think that the actual order should be sheep-cattle-deer-gazelles/goats...

Eeee why exactly? (I can hear you ask)

This order corresponds with the symbolic link between the quadrupeds and the seasons: 

goat/gazelle winter

I talked about this symbolic link in my article about the Symbols of the season...Particular animal is associated with a particular season because a reproductive cycle event (mating or birth giving) of that animal happens during that season

sheep-spring (lambing of wild sheep)
cattle-summer (calving of wild cattle)
deer-autumn (mating of wild deer)
goat/gazelle winter (mating of wild goats)

The gazelle (Goitered gazelle to be more precise) has the same mating season as the Bezoar goat (Oct/Nov to Jan), making them interchangeable symbols of winter. I talked about this in my post about the "Pissing gazelle" πŸ™‚ 

They are even sometimes depicted together to reinforce the meaning...

So, I think that this diadem is quite remarkable indeed. It shows that indeed these animals were not put on that diadem randomly, but were meant to represent the solar year of four seasons...It just needs to be reassembled correctly  πŸ™‚

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