Puabi – sacred victim? by Maria and Liza G.

In 1928 Sir Leonard Woolley during the excavations in Mesopotamia founded the tomb of the woman, whose name was read as Puabi (or Shub-Ad). She belonged to the people of Sumer and lived nearly 5000 years ago in the town named Ur. Those very-very ancient time seems very strange for us: the most precious stone was lapis lazuli, the most refined fragrance – the scent of cedar, and the most delicious drink – the sweet date beer , which they drink through the straw ( Puabi had the golden one). Sumerian’s favorite material was a clay, even their sickles were made of clay. People didn't know the wheel and used the sleigh for the voyages .

Puabi’s tomb was full of gold. Woman, dressed and decorated with gold, carnelian, lapis lazuli, obsidian, jade and other precious stones, lied on the some sort of wide sofa. Her head was crowned with gigantic wig and the mass of the golden garlands. At that time people didn't know weaving and all her rich dresses, of the thin cloth, were made by fulling and adorned with the fringe - maybe the bands of the sheep's skin with the long wool. Probably Puabi’s wig was also felt.

Around the sofa lied 13 dead women with silver garment - "ladies in waiting" — retainers who were poisoned to accompany their mistress in death. Five soldiers, musician with the harp and two bulls, harnessed into the sleigh, were also buried with Puabi.

Who was she? The queen? The magician? Or maybe a sacred victim for the one of the cruel ancient gods. Nobody knows.

Many scientist decide Puabi to be “the temporary queen” or the “false queen” - the girl, who was elected to play the role of the queen for the short period – maybe for the holiday, devoted to the degression of Sumerian most beautiful goddess Inanna to the hell. According to the legend, Inanna wanted to visit the ruler of the Hell - her sister Ereshkigal, but this was the very bad idea: envious and ugly Ereshkigal killed beautiful Inanna and hang her nice body at the pillar like a doll. Only the wisdom of their brother Enki helped Inanna to revive and escape from the kingdom of dead men. But the condition of her salvation was to give evil Ereshkigal the substitute – somebody instead of Inanna. Such “substitute of the goddess” might be Puabi.

During the holyday the false queen possessed the big power: she had the right to judge, to dispose all the treasures and all other people were her slaves. But only one right she had no: to escape. Watchful servants looked after her and controlled her every step, because at the last day of the holidays she must be sacrificed: killed and buried with honor. And the next year another “Inanna” played her short role.

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Copyright © 2011 Marina Bychkova.