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The eyes, horns and fleece of this sculpture from Ur, Mesopotamia, are made of lapis lazuli, a dark blue stone found exclusively in the Badakhshan province of northeast Afghanistan, two thousand miles away. It was made ca2500BC. 

Since Mesopotamia is taught to us as one of the earliest civilisations, you have to ask: how come they had the trade networks in place to acquire their lapis from across such vast distances? Surely there must have been other civilisations in place to supply them, and earlier, established, international trade routes...

© Susanna Kleeman 2021

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