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Exploring Ancient Mesopotamia

A few years ago, when Marian and I were researching the historical backgrounds of the House of the Rose novels, we made a trip down to Orange County in southern California to visit a special travelling exhibit from the Penn Museum, featuring the artifacts excavated from the Royal Cemetery at Ur by Sir Leonard Woolley.

The plane was crowded with tourists and it was interesting to see people’s reactions when we told them that we were taking a weekend jaunt to visit a museum rather than going to Disneyland.

Among the many treasures in the exhibition were Queen Puabi’s splendid crown of delicate golden leaves and blossoms, her makeup and perfume containers (some still containing traces of kohl eyeliner and other substances), and some of her furniture and possessions.

In the years that followed our trip, I’ve encountered traces of ancient Sumer in various far-flung locations–at the Rosicrucian Museum in San Jose, California; at the National Archaeological Museum in Istanbul, Turkey; the Metropolitan Museum in NYC; the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago; and (featuring the most elaborate reconstructions of buildings) the Pergamon Museum in Berlin, Germany.

Accordingly, this month’s slideshow features photos taken in these various locations. Due to the extremely hazardous conditions in Iraq, it will be a while (if ever) before I get to visit any Sumerian sites in person.

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