Bull Lyre

Bull Lyre

Date ca. 2600 BCE

Movement Ancient Near Eastern | Sumerian

Medium Wood with gold, lapis lazuli, bitumen and shell

Dimensions of inlay: 12.25 x 4.5″

Provenance Tomb of Queen Pu-abi, Ur, (Muqaiyir), Iraq

Housed at University Museum, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia


Found in the Royal Death Pits of Ur, this bull closely resembles the quality and craft of the Goat in the Thicket.  The inlay features humanized animals together with hybrid figures, and may retell popular fables that were perhaps part of a funerary tradition; while some hybrid creatures in other cultures were meant to ward off evil, it is unclear if this was the intention here.