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Note on a Bas-reliiffiund at Ur By E.

MACKAY,

M.A., F.S.A.

THE very interesting limestone plaque from Ur, illustrated in pl. v of vol. viii of The Antiquaries Journal, deserves a little more attention than Mr. Woolley has had space to give to it. In design this chariot exactly resembles a number of pottery models that were found in the season 1923-4 at Kish and provisionally dated 3000 B. C. or a little earlier. I I note that Mr. Woolley is of opinion that his plaque can be dated 3200 B. C. At the time that the Kish chariots were found, I was in足 dined to think that the peculiar form of some of these chariots was perhaps derived from mounting a kind of saddle upon wheels. Animals would first have been ridden bare-back, then with a saddle; the saddle may then have been mounted upon wheels, and thus the open chariot would have been evolved. The fact that some of the saddle-like model chariots found at Kish are roughly incised with lines suggestive of a Reece or skin is significant in view of the presence in the U r plaque of a skin, resembling that of a leopard, used in the manner of a saddle-cloth. The shield-like front of the chariot in the Dr relief is paral足 leled in some of the models from Kish. It is provided with apertures through which the reins were passed, but it may originally have represented the neck of an animal that was formerly ridden. Its sloping position and obviously rounded shape strongly suggest this. It is at present uncertain what animal or animals were used to draw these chariots. It may well have been the ass, especi足 ally as Mr. Woolley has found a silver figure of an ass mounted on some chariot harness. On the other hand, it may have been the ox or buffalo, both of which are used for draught-work in India at the present day, and are capable of a fair turn of speed. Mr. Woolley describes the body of the chariot on the plaque as made of wickerwork; and in this he is probably correct. But the bands which he takes to be wickerwork might be straps used to secure the skin to the frame. I cannot agree with him that this particular chariot was an open one. His I

Shortly to be published in the Anthropological Memoirs of the Field

Chicago.

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FIG. 2.

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Vol. IX. pi. II

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ne plaque from U r) illustrated 'uaries Journal) deserves a little ley has had space to' give to it. resembles a number of pottery le season 1923-4 at Kish and a little earlier.! I note that lis plaque can be dated 3200 B. c. chariots were found) I was in足 r form of some of these chariots )unting a kind of saddle upon have been ridden bare-back) lie may then have been mounted 'pen chariot would have been ,f the saddle-like model chariots cised with lines suggestive of a l view of the presence in the U r that of a leopard) used in the

. 1.

Flc.

I.

Limestone plaque from Dr

chariot in the U r relief is paral足 from Kish. It is provided with reins were passed, but it may neck of an animal that was position and obviously rounded animal or animals were used ly well have been the ass, especi足 l a silver figure of an ass mounted the other hand) it may have been h are used for draught-work in ,d are capable of a fair turn of body of the chariot on the plaque d in this he is probably correct. to be wickerwork might be .in to the frame. I cannot agree . chariot was an open one. His thropological

of the Field Museum,

FIC . 2 .

A modern Sindi cart


I A BAS-RELIEF FOUND AT UR illustration distinctly proves the reverse, as do also the models of similar chariots from Kish. The intention, however, of this note on the fine relief from Ur is to compare the chariot portrayed upon it with similar vehicles now in use in Sind. On comparing my illustration with Mr. Woolley's, it will be seen that both the ancient chiriot and the modern one have wheels composed of three pieces of wood (pI. II). Perhaps the Sumerians found it difficult to obtain trees of sufficient girth to make a wheel from one piece. On the other hand, it may have been thought desirable, as in Sind to-day, to construct a wheel from three pieces so that, as far as possible, the end of the alone should be expose.d to On the allUVial of SInd wooden wheels of thIS type require no tyres of any description. Nor would they on the similar soil of Mesopotamia, unless the wood of which they were made was very soft. The apparent tyre of the Ur chariot may simply represent the splaying out of the fibres of the wood that is sometimes seen in the cart-wheels of to-day in Sind. It will be noticed that in the chariot on the plaque the wheel is fixed to the axle by means of a toggle-pin, which is the in Sind to-day. Mr. Woolley has already observed that the axle of the cart probably. revolved with the wheels, as, it is to. be noted, the wheels of the Sindi carts do. In Sind, however-but this is rare-one wheel is sometimes allowed to revolve on the axle in order that it may serve as a differential. It is possible that the rounded end of the axle of the Ur chariot may also represent an arrangement of this kind. It is impossible to say from the U r relief in what the revolved. The arrangement of the Sindi carts is exceedingly simple and effective. Four wooden pegs are fastened in pairs to the bottom of the cart, with a distance of about 2 ft. between them, and the axle revolves between them. As these pegs are set at right angles to the bottom of the cart, it is an easy matter to lift the body entirely off the axle and wheels, _ . so to store the cart in a small space. There is little doubt that this arrangement was also known in Sumer. I t has the merit of being very simple, and repairs are easily made. Only an exceptional jolt will part the body from the wheels, and even so one man can easily put them together again. In deciding this question the pottery models from Kish do not help us very much . They all have a casing running through the base, through which the axle was passed. It must be remembered, ,however, that these models were toys, in which a casing was the only satifactory method of fastening the wheels on; any other


28

A

THE ANTIQUARIES JOURNAL

arrangement would have been too easily broken. In a real chariot a casing would have caused an enormous amount of friction. Failing the Sindi method, the axle of the Sumerian chariot must have revolved in copper rings or staples, which would have been both liable to break or bend and difficult to in an emergency. Of one thing, however, we can be Sumerian chariot must have made a prodigious Its progress; the Sindi cart does at the present day. But It may have been that, as in the Chinese battles of yester足 day, a noise was considered of advantage in helping to frighten the enemy. As will be seen from the illustrations, the high bent of the chariot on the plaque has no parallel in the of I am told, however, that the bent pole is known other parts of India, though the fixed wheels are now peculiar to Sind. We were fortunate to find at Kish a pottery model of the open type of chariot also,' which, as far as we are able to is of the type as the one that Eannatum of Lagash IS represented as driving on the broken slab found by the French at Susa. 2 The example from Kish is a two-wheeled box-like vehicle provided with a seat inside and a step at the bac.k. In is a shield-like affair with two holes through which the rems were passed. Attached to one side of the is a quiver containing arrows, and on the other side there IS an empty case which may have been used for a whip or for other weapons. This pottery toy was exceptionally well made, and one regrets that the model draught-animals that must once have accompanied it were not found. We are certain from the many models that have been found at Kish that at least three types of vehicles were in use in Sumer about 3000 B. c. The most common was the saddle足 similar that portrayed in the U r plaque; another was the charlot used by Eannatum, and the third had a very long body on four wheels. This last, which more closely resembled a wain than anything else, was probably used for army transport or for agricultural purposes. As we know of no representations of persons, save Eannatum alone, riding in the open type of chariot, we may suppose that this latter was a royal equipage. The saddle-type of chariot may have used by the king's officers, and it was probably more I should like here take the opportunity to correct some I Now in the Ashmolean Museum. , King, His/of) of and

p.

-- -_._ .. _ -- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - _.........

remarks made by Mr. Woo found at Kish and describ, rectly, perhaps, be called Cl for a minute that fuel these vessels; it would ob, at the top. We now vessels of this type were used for ceremonial purpos. The long copper pins wil Woolley at Ur have their Kish. Mr. Woolley descr: 'toggles', for fastening ga dence from Kish that they w burials at that site they the head. In some of the shaft, and at Ur a little strit through it. At Kish a co through the hole, and I have of hair may have been pas heavy pin from falling fro :' beads would have served t pins, of which some were much too cumbersome and J Another type of pin, bet tened, seems not to have bet . associated at Kish with the this type of pin would qui secure a garmen t.

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Anthropological

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.RIES JOURNAL too easily broken. In a real :aused an enormous amount of ethod, the axle of the Sumerian rings or staples, which :0' break or bend and difficult to one thing, however, we can be must have a prodigious di cart does at the present day. n the Chinese battles of yester­ advantage in helping to frighten from the illustrations, the high plaque has no parallel in the ver, that the bent pole is known ugh the fixed wheels are now .t Kish a pottery model of the hich, as far as we are able to Ie one that Eannatum of Lagash the broken slab found by the ,Ie from Kish is a two-wheeled a seat inside and a step at the e affair with two holes through Attached to one side of the rows, and on the other side there lave been used for a whip or for was exceptionally well made, draught-animals that must once

1Y models that have been found 'pes of vehicles were in use in most common was the saddle­ in the U r plaque; another was 1atum, and the third had a very This last, which more closely ng else, was probably used for ral purposes. .tions of persons, save Eannatum ype of chariot, we may suppose page. The saddle-type of chariot Ig's officers, and it was probably the opportunity to correct some lean Museum. :mer and Akkad, p.

.

A BAS-RELIEF FO UND AT DR remarks by Mr. Woolley. In the first place, the utensils found at Klsh and described by me as braziers may more cor­ rectly, perhaps, be caIled censers. But I have never imagined for a minute that fuel was ever placed in the hollow stems of these vessels; it would obviously have been placed in the pan at the top. We now have evidence from Mohenjo-Daro that vessels of this type were actually censers and that they were used for ceremonial purposes. The long copper pins with ornamental heads found by Mr. Woolley at Ur have their counterpart in similar pins found at Kish. Mr. Woolley describes them as having been used as 'toggles', for. fastening garments. But we have ample evi­ dence from KISh that they were used as hair-pins; in untouched to the top of burials at that site they were always found the head. In of th.ese pins there is a hole through the strIng of beads was sometimes threaded shaft, and at U r a through it. At Kish a copper ring was occasionally passed through the hole, and I have already pointed out that a strand of hair have passed through this ring to keep the heavy pill from falllllg from the head. The little string of have served the same purpose. These copper pillS, of whICh some were over a long, would have been much too and heavy to as dress-fastenings. Another type of pill, bent and With the upper portion flat­ tened., seems to been found at Ur as yet; it is always assOCIated at KISh With the straight pin. 1 The very shape of this type of pin would quite preclude its ever being used to secure a garment. , Anthropological figs.

of

Field Mruellm, Chicago, vol.

I,

pl.

XIX,


macay 1929