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This object was originally reconstructed by Woolley in 1936 using paraffin wax. This gave way in July 1949 and the object was removed from display. Steps were begun to conserve and restore the object in 1962 when it was sent to the laboratory on 16 July, and over the course of the following two years Mr R.M. Organ of the Research Laboratory worked on this project, assisted by Mrs Charlotte Podro, then Conservation Officer in the Dept of Western Asiatic Antiquities. The work was then taken over and completed by Marjorie Hutchinson (nee MacGregor) under the supervision of Mr H. Barker and Mr A. Oddy of the Laboratory, and the object returned in May 1968. After preliminary treatment to remove the paraffin wax, the carbonates and copper salts, the remaining silver chloride was reduced electrolytically to massive silver by a the- new process known as consolidative reduction (the process later published by Organ). Through this process, all shapes and surface details, including the impressions of string, the bridge and the matting on which the object lay in the ground, were preserved. The bridge and tuning pegs were substituted with perspex and the lyre mounted on a frame of the same material which was fashioned by Mr Ian McIntyre of the Research Laboratory. The silver was re-attached using a hard wax of high melting point (Cosmolid 80H) with 25% beeswax. A decision was made to add perspex levers to the reconstruction rather than incorporate the silver originals which were considered too weak. The reconstruction was also strung with nylon threads to help show its original appearance (Report to Trustees 2 June 1969). Photographs before and after the latter restoration were published as part of a short note in 'The British Museum Report of the Trustees 1966-1969', pp.42-43, pls IX a-b. See also 'Iraq' vol. 31, plate XI. The photograph taken immediately before restoration does not appear to be in ANE's archives or photographic albums. The negative PS0688467 is copied from the Ur negative U.1341, which is the photograph published by Woolley in UE II pl. 111, and which seems to be the only available photograph of the complete lyre before the 1960s restoration.
Acquisition date :: 1929 ::, Appeared in exhibition :: G56 Early Mesopotamia 2009 onwards ::, Appeared in exhibition :: G56 Early Mesopotamia :: 1991-2009, Appeared in exhibition :: Highlights/COMPASS ::, Bibliograpic reference :: Barnett R D 1969a pp. 97-98 and plate XI. ::, Bibliograpic reference :: British Museum 1969a pp.42-43, pl. IXa-b ::, Consists of :: lapis lazuli ::, Consists of :: limestone :: red, Consists of :: shell ::, Consists of :: silver ::, Consists of :: wood ::, Dimension Height :: 15.50cm :: shell decoration, Dimension Height :: 97.50cm ::, Dimension Length :: 103.00cm :: bar, Dimension Length :: 18.00cm :: pin, Dimension Length :: 69.00cm ::, Dimension Width :: 5.50cm :: body, Found (in) :: Royal Cemetery ::, Found/Acquired (by) :: Department of Antiquities of Iraq and The British Museum ::, Found/Excavated/Collected (by) :: Woolley, Charles Leonard ::, Located in gallery :: G56/MES1/19 :: 13 Jan 2010, Object type :: lyre ::, Production Period / Culture :: Early Dynastic III ::, Production date :: 2600BC ::, Subject :: landscape ::, Subject :: mammal ::, Subject :: tree/bush ::, Uses technique :: inlaid ::
Exhibition label :: G56 Early Mesopotamia 2009 onwards :: The Silver Lyre Leonard Woolley discovered several lyres in graves of the Royal Cemetery at Ur. This was one of four musical instruments that he found in the Great Death Pit (see Case 18, right). The wood of the instruments had decayed, but Woolley poured plaster into the holes left by the vanished wood and so preserved their shapes and decoration. The silver which covers this lyre and its bull’s head are original. It is almost certain that the soundboard was made only with sheet silver, but it is now supported on a wooden frame. The shell, lapis lazuli and red limestone inlay decoration is also ancient, but the strings and pegs are modern. The original silver pegs are displayed here on the other side of the lyre. The panel on the front of the lyre depicts fallow deer and a tree on a hill, lions attacking a goat and a lion attacking a gazelle. About 2500 BC (Early Dynastic III) From grave PG 1237, The Great Death Pit, Ur ME 121199, Exhibition label :: G56 Early Mesopotamia :: The Silver Lyre Sumerian, about 2600 BC From Ur, Great Death Pit, Grave PG 1237 The silver which covers this lyre and its bull’s head, and the shell, lapis lazuli and red limestone inlay decoration are ancient, but the wooden frame, the pegs, strings and bridge are modern. The original silver pegs can be seen to the right. The panel on the front of the lyre depicts fallow deer and a tree on a hill; lions attacking a goat; a lion attacking a gazelle. WA 121199, Exhibition label :: Highlights/COMPASS :: Silver lyre From Ur, southern Iraq about 2600-2400 BC This lyre was found in the 'Great Death-Pit', one of the graves in the Royal Cemetery at Ur. The burial in the Great Death-Pit was accompanied by seventy-four bodies - six men and sixty-eight women -laid down in rows on the floor of the pit. Three lyres were piled one on top of another. They were all made from wood which had decayed by the time they were excavated, but two of them, of which this is one, were entirely covered in sheet silver attached by small silver nails. The plaques down the front of the sounding box are made of shell. The silver cow's head decorating the front has inlaid eyes of shell and lapis lazuli. The edges of the sound box have a narrow border of shell and lapis lazuli inlay. When found, the lyre lay in the soil. The metal was very brittle and the uprights were squashed flat. First it was photographed, and then covered in wax and waxed cloth to hold it together for lifting. The silver on the top and back edge of the sounding box had been destroyed. Some of the silver preserved the impression of matting on which it must have originally lain. Eleven silver tubes acted as the tuning pegs. Such instruments were probably important parts of rituals at court and temple. There are representations of lyre players and their instruments on cylinder seals, and on the Standard of Ur being played alongside a possible singer. J. Rimmer, Ancient musical instruments of (London, The British Museum Press, 1969) C.L. Woolley and others, Ur Excavations, vol. II: The R (London, The British Museum Press, 1934) Height: 106.000 cm Length: 97.000 cm ME 121199 Room 56: Mesopotamia
Silver lyre; the silver which covers this lyre and its bull's head, and the shell, lapis lazuli and red limestone inlay decoration are ancient, but the frame, the pegs, strings and bridge are modern; the original silver pegs are exhibited separately; the panel on the front of the lyre depicts fallow deer and a tree on a hill, lions attacking a goat, and a lion attacking a gazelle.
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