On exhibit in the British Museum in London lies a very special ancient clay tablet. The 3,766-year-old artifact dates back to Mesopotamia – specifically, to a city-state known as Ur. And etched into its face, the tablet has a message – one that fascinatingly expresses its inscriber’s profound displeasure.
It was a British man called Sir Leonard Woolley who, at the start of the 1900s, most famously investigated the site of Ur. And as a result of his meticulous means of research, Woolley is thought of as a pivotal figure within contemporary archaeology. The archaeologist made multiple discoveries at Ur and helped construct a clearer image of what the city-state was once like.
Ur was a crucial place within the Sumer civilization, which itself stands as among the first ever mass societies in history. Sumer itself lay in the south of Mesopotamia, in the southern part of what we today know as Iraq. And experts believe permanent settlements first sprung up in Sumer between 5500 B.C. and 4000 B.C.