Ram in a Thicket Mesopotamia idol statue
© Jack1956/ CC BY SA 3.0
‘Ram in a Thicket’ found in PG 1237.
During Sir Charles Leonard Woolley's excavation of Ur from 1922 to 1934, any burial without a tomb chamber was given the name 'death pit' (known also as 'grave pits'). Arguably the most impressive death pit excavated by Woolley and his team was PG 1237, which Woolley dubbed as 'The Great Death Pit', due to the number of bodies that were found in it. These bodies were arranged neatly in rows and were richly dressed. It is commonly believed that these individuals were sacrificial victims who accompanied their master / mistress in the afterlife. It is unclear, however, if they had done so voluntarily.

PG 1237 - The Most Famous Pit of Death at Ur

During Woolley's archaeological excavations at Ur, a total of six burials were assigned as 'death pits'. Generally speaking, these were tombs and sunken courtyards connected to the surface by a shaft. These 'death pits' were thought to have been built around or adjacent to the tomb of a primary individual. This hypothesis, however, has been challenged in recent times. In any case, the 'death pits' discovered by Woolley and his team were filled with the remains of retainers belonging to an important individual.

The most impressive of Woolley's 'death pits' is PG 1237, which was named by Woolley as the 'Great Death Pit'. In this 'death pit', Woolley and his team identified a total of 74 individuals, six of whom were male and the rest female. The bodies of the six men were found near the entrance of the 'death pit' and were equipped with a helmet and weapons.

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