Ellis (1967) identified a discrete group of Mesopotamian foundation deposits, the central identifying feature in each being a clay figurine of Papsukkal = Ninshubur wearing a horned cap and long robe and holding a staff. The earliest example of such an assemblage noted by Ellis (1967, 52 Table I No. 1, 53) was the collection of objects found embedded in an altar in a construction phase of the Temple of Ningal at Ur dated by its excavator to the Kassite period (Woolley: 1939, 53–65, Pl. 73). Ellis (ibid.) accepted a Kassite date for the deposit, but did raise the possibility that a later date was equally acceptable. Similar doubts as to the Kassite date of the deposit were highlighted by Rittig (1977, 20–1, 41). As the earliest example of a ritual activity that saw its floruit in the eighth and seventh centuries B.C., it is important that the date of the Temple of Ningal group be correctly established. In this paper I attempt to demonstrate that the group post-dates the Kassite Period and is more probably eighth or seventh century B.C. in date.
The Temple of Ningal (Fig. 1)
Introducing his discussion of the results of his excavations on the Temple of Ningal Woolley (1939, 53) noted:
It is probable that there had always been a temple of Ningal on the south-east of the Ziggurat terrace though, it must be admitted, the material evidence of an early building is very scanty. Between the time of the Third Dynasty and of the fourteenth century B.C. there had been no rise of ground level; the best foundation offered to a new builder was the solid bedding of mudbrick laid by Ur-Nammu, and it is natural enough that the Kassite architect should have made a clean sweep of any ruins of older work that might have encumbered his site, and the more so as the building he contemplated was, so far as we can judge, of a novel plan.