Charles Leonard Woolley

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Woolley, Charles Leonard


Born Apr. 17, 1880, in London; died there Feb. 20, 1960. English archaeologist.

From 1907 to 1912 Woolley took part in excavations in Nubia, and from 1912 to 1914 and in 1919 he participated in the excavations at Carchemish on the Euphrates. In 1921 and 1922 he directed the excavations at Tell el-Amarna. Between 1922 and 1934 he directed the work of the Anglo-American archaeological expedition at Ur, which discovered the temple household archives (28th century B.C.), royal tombs of the first dynasty of Ur, a number of temples, the royal household archives of the third dynasty of Ur, and numerous inscriptions. The excavations at Ur made it possible to establish the general outlines of the history of this city-state. From 1936 to 1939 and from 1946 to 1949, Woolley conducted excavations of Alalakh in Turkey. In his historical reconstructions Woolley idealized the social system and culture of the ancient states of Mesopotamia.


The Sumerians. Oxford, 1928.
A Forgotten Kingdom. London-Melbourne-Baltimore, 1953.
Ur khaldeev. Moscow, 1961. (Translated from English.)


Iraq, 1960, vol. 22.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
As important as the stories of the objects were the people who made them, discovered them, promoted them, or otherwise animated them, shaping their place in the world through a sensational press release (in the case of the archaeologist Charles Leonard Woolley, who desperately wanted Mesopotamia to compete with the Egyptomania triggered by the discovery of King Tut's tomb in 1922), a fast-paced detective fiction (Agatha Christie worked on Woolley's dig, where she met her second husband, Max Mallowan, as well as Woolley's wife, the model for her victim in the Hercule Poirot mystery Murder in Mesopotamia), or an erudite interpretation (as exemplified by Henri Frankfort, who spoke of Sumerian artifacts never in terms of primitivism but always in the language of fine art).
The lyre would have been lost to culture had it not been for the ingenuity of British archaeologist Charles Leonard Woolley, who upon its discovery took careful measures to preserve the measurements of the sound box, which had disintegrated over time, so that we can see the fully restored lyre today.
British archaeologist Charles Leonard Woolley found some of the greatest treasures of antiquity at Ur, including a golden dagger encrusted with lapis lazuli, an intricately carved golden statue of a ram caught in a thicket, a lyre decorated with a bull's head and the gold headdress of a Sumerian queen.