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Great Lyre from the "King's Grave" (front panel)

A Special Exhibition Image Gallery by Stan Parchin

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Image © University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology; Used with permission.

Great Lyre from the "King's Grave" (front panel) (Mesopotamian, ca. 2650-2550 B.C.). Shell and bitumen. H. 33 cm.

© University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
The trapezoidal front panel of this musical string instrument displays four scenes divided into separate registers. The top scene features a bearded male figure (probably semidivine) flanked heraldically by two mythological beings. The three remaining regions depict a funerary banquet attended by lively animals performing human tasks.

Since its temporary residency at The St. Louis Art Museum, Missouri, Treasures from the Royal Tombs of Ur opened on February 22, 2006 at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, where it will remain on view until August 13. Thereafter, the show will travel to the Middlebury College Museum of Art in Vermont from September 14 to December 11. The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology's traveling exhibition has been on the road since October 3, 1998. The exhibition shows no sign of loosing steam in terms of its enduring popularity. Called Royal Tombs of Ur: Ancient Treasures from Modern Iraq while in Texas, the display features more than 200 exquisite Mesopotamian works of art and artifacts, including: the Great Lyre; the Ram Caught in a Thicket (actually a rearing goat); the Headdress of the Lady Puabi and her exquisite jewelry; a gold ostrich egg; superb examples of weaponry; and other precious masterpieces from Sumer's Early Dynastic IIIA period (ca. 2600-2500 B.C.). Sometime after 2006, the collection will be reinstalled in the University of Pennsylvania Museum's renovated Ancient Near Eastern Art galleries.

Click here for the full review of the special exhibition.

Special thanks to Erin Blatzer of the Houston Museum of Natural Science for the additional images.

"Royal Tombs of Ur: Ancient Treasures from Modern Iraq" is on view from February 22 through August 13, 2006 at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, One Hermann Circle Drive, Houston, TX 77030 (Telephone: 713-639-4629; Website). The exhibition is open Monday and Wednesday to Sunday from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM and Tuesday from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM. Admission is $9.00 for adults and $8.00 for senior citizens (62 years of age and over), college students with valid ID cards and children ages 3 to 11.

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From your Guide: Stan Parchin, Senior Correspondent for Museums and Special Exhibitions, is a specialist in ancient, late-medieval and Renaissance art and history, and a regular contributor to About Art History. You may read all of his Special Exhibition and Catalogue Reviews here.
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