Where Does the Gold from the Cemetery of Ur Come From? – Provenancing Gold Sources Using Analytical Methods


  • Moritz Jansen University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Center for the Analysis of Archaeological Materials, 3260 South St, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA
  • Andreas Hauptmann Deutsches Bergbau-Museum, Hernerstraße 45, D-44787 Bochum, Germany
  • Sabine Klein Goethe-Universität Frankfurt, Institut für Geowissenschaften, Altenhöferallee 1, D-60438 Frankfurt a.M., Germany




Ur, Gold, Mesopotamia, geochemical analyses, LIA, PGE


The focus of our analysis is on the richly decorated Early Dynastic Royal Tombs. These graves are mixed in date and grouped here as  Akkadian to Ur III period. Twelve additional objects are without stratified contextual information and are discussed separately. The main components of the gold artifacts are gold, silver and copper. Between 15 and 45 percent of silver and between 1 and 6 percent of copper was typical for the samples. The jewelry of the Early Dynastic period has the same composition as the later Akkadian and Third Dynasty. Based on analysis of their main components, they could come from the same sources. During the analyses it could be clarified whether the gold composition is natural or is an intentional alloy. The golden jewelry from Ur is a natural alloy of gold and silver  originating from placer gold. Further the provenance of the gold can thus be stated: the source of the gold from Ur is likely located within the Tethyan Euarasian Metallogenetic Belt.