In Mesopotamia, gold ornaments first appeared in the Ubaid period sites (fifth millennium B.C.). Like all metals, it had to be brought into the country from far afield, such as eastern Anatolia, part of a loose network of exchange for high-status luxury commodities. It was usually alloyed with silver in varying proportions. In the Early Dynastic period, the wealthy city-states of Mesopotamia could command a wide range of such articles, and gold plays a prominent part in the funerary gifts discovered at the “royal tombs” at Ur. Gold objects include not just rings and other items of jewelry but cups, plates, ceremonial daggers, and wig-like headdresses. The metal had been hammered in thin sheets before being shaped and cut.
   Workers of the “shining silver” (KU.BABBAR in Sumerian) were distinguished from other craftsmen working in metal. Their services were also needed for the fashioning of cult statues, which could be covered with gold foil. In the mid-second millennium, Egyptian gold came to be imported, initially as a high-level exchange between the pharaoh and the Babyloniankings, in return for richly worked textiles, inlaid furniture, and war chariots (see AMARNA CORRESPONDENCE). For a while gold was so plentiful that it replaced silver as the standard of exchange. Excavations at Nimrud in 2002 brought to light the fabulous gold jewelry of Assyrian queens that had been deposited in the royal tombs from the eighth century B.C., including an anklet weighing more than two pounds (see FUNERARY AND BURIAL PRACTICES).

Historical Dictionary of Mesopotamia. . 2012.

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