Independent City-States – under protection of different deities/ Sumerian rulers were the god’s representatives on earth/ created specialized labor forces/ community assumed functions of defense against enemies and nature, not individual families
Pictographs/Cuneiform – Epic of Gilgamesh
Uruk’s White Temple/Ziggurat – god’s temple formed the city’s monumental nucleus/ center of religious practices and also administrative and economic center
Gods of Mesopotamia – mostly nature gods/ Anu (chief deity/sky), Enlil (winds and earth), Inanna/Ishtar (love and war), Nanna/Sin (moon), Uta/Shamash (sun) . . . .
Mesopotamian Seals – stamp and cylinder forms/ used to identify their documents and protect storage jars and doors against unauthorized opening/ wearing one signified high positions in society/ buried with dead/ provided priceless information about Mesopotamian religion and society
Bottom Right: Warka Vase/ Narrative Art-Relief Sculpture – used pictures to tell stories (religious festival) /Composition arranged in Registers or Friezes/Composite View of figures (combo of frontal and profile views)/No overlapping/ Rendered Conceptual Approach/Hierarchy of Scale
Female head (Inanna?), from Uruk, Iraq, ca. 3200-3000 BCE, marble, 8” high
Flat back, drilled holes for attachment to wooden head and body, once had colored shells or stones in eyebrow and eye area, wig of gold leaf, etc.
White Temple and ziggurat, Uruk (Modern Warka), Iraq, ca. 3200-3000 BCE Home of Gilgamesh Reconstruction Drawing Reconstruction Drawing Constructed of mud brick (no access to stone quarries)/white-washed walls/ temple stands on top of ziggurat (40 ft. above street level in center of city)/ bent-axis approach to entrance of temple, not linear entry like the Egyptians/oriented to cardinal points of the compass/ dedicated to Anu (god of sky, 61X16 ft.)/ Cella (central hall)- for divinity and stepped altar , referred to as “waiting rooms” where deities would descend & appear before the priests SUMERIANS believed gods reside above the world of humans= elevated structures toward sky
Sumerian Art: Statues of Worshippers from Tell Asmar Cache of sculptures found buried beneath temple floor/range in size from under a foot to 30” tall/represent mortals rather than deities/votive figures/hands folded as in prayer, some hold beakers used in religious rites/ simple forms (cones and cylinders)/ oversized eyes and tiny hands are disproportionate/open-eyed stare symbolizes the eternal wakefulness necessary to fulfill their duty Statuettes of two worshippers, from the Square Temple at Eshnunna (Tell Asmar), Iraq, ca. 2700 BCE, Gypsum inlaid with shell and black limestone, male figure 2’6” high
Historical narrative/ below shows two sides (war and peace)/ registers/ composite view of figures= frontal eye and body with profile head and feet/ hierarchy of scale/ uncertain of purpose Right : Actual 3-D shape of Standard of Ur, from Royal Cemetery at Ur, Iraq Below : Detail from peace side of the Standard of Ur The excavator, Leonard Woolley, thought it was originally mounted on a pole like a military standard. Art historians are uncertain of its purpose.
Akkadian, Neo-Sumerian, Babylonian & Hittite Art
Rulers: Sargon of Akkad (2334 BCE) and Naram-Sin (2254-18 BCE) - Akkadians= Near Eastern people who spoke language related to Hebrew and Arabic/used Sumerian’s
cuneiform/Sargon introduced concept of absolute monarchy (loyalty to king rather than city-state)/ruler of the earth, akin to a god
Victory Stele of Naram-Sin/King appears as a god/Landscape
Neo-Sumerian/3 rd Dynasty of Ur – 2150 BCE Gutians ended Akkadian power, cities of Sumer united and drove Gutians out, established Neo-Sumerian state ruled by the kings of Ur/ Ziggurat built
Babylon/King Hammurabi/Law Code – Cities of Sumer and kings of 3 rd Dynasty of Ur fell to Elamites/Babylon’s most powerful king, Hammurabi (r. 1792-50 BCE), took control and reestablished centralized government that ruled southern Mesopotamia- he was famous for his conquests and law code
Hittites/Lion Gate/Heavy Stone – Babylon is conquered and sacked by the Hittites around 1595 BCE/Hittites built with large blocks of heavy stone instead of brick (for protection)/Guardian beasts in gateway will be seen in other cultures (like Assyria)
Life size, hollow-cast metal sculpture/deliberately mutilated to make political statement/masterful balance of naturalism with abstract patterning/ careful observation of man’s features/earliest know great monumental work of hollow-cast sculpture Akkadian Art
Victory Stele of Naram-Sin(2254-2218 BCE)/ commemorates Naram-Sin’s defeat of Lullubi people/king stands alone, hierarchy of scale, he is scaling the ladder to the heavens/horned helmet symbolizes divinity- first time king appears as a god in Mesopotamian art/composite view of figures/no registers/first landscape since Catal Hoyuk Detail of Victory stele of Naram-Sin Stele : A carved stone slab used to mark graves or to commemorate historical events.
Neo-Sumerian- state ruled by kings of Ur/ this age is called the Third Dynasty of Ur/ Ziggurat at Ur- 2100 BCE- one of the largest in Mesopotamia/solid mud brick base, 50 ft. high/facing of building is baked bricks laid in bitumen (asphalt-like substance) / temple did not survive Neo-Sumerian Architecture
Lion Gate, Boghazkoy, Turkey, ca. 1400 BCE. Limestone, lions approx. 7’ high Hittite Art – built walls and towers around citadel for protection out of heavy stone/lions are guardian beasts located at the gateway to citadel/protection from evil
Stele-Law Code of Hammurabi(1780 BCE)/Black-Basalt/Prescribed penalties for everything/Written in Akkadian- 3,500 lines of cuneiform characters Top of Relief Subject: Hammurabi in presence of flame-shouldered sun god, Shamash/ king raises his hand in respect/ god bestows on Hammurabi the authority to rule and to enforce the laws Artistic Depiction: Shamash is shown in combo front and side views/ his headdress is in true profile/ foreshortening shown with feet of god= angle suggesting depth/ god’s beard= series of diagonals (not horizontals) suggesting recession from the picture plane Babylonian Art
Reconstruction drawing of the citadel of Sargon II, Dur Sharrukin, Iraq, ca. 720-05 BCE/ citadel was unfinished Assyrian Art/Architecture – Assyrians took name from the city Assur (named for god Ashur)/ display of Assyrian power/ strong defensive walls/city measures square mile in area/palace elevated 50 ft., covered 25 acres, had more than 200 courtyards and rooms/had great ziggurat (7 stories)- Sumerian bent-axis approach
Assyrian Art /Lamassu- ca. 720-705 BCE/Citadel of Sargon II/High Relief- Limestone/Winged, human-headed bull to guard gate- ward off king’s enemies/Conceptual Approach (show all important parts)/Composite View (front and side view in motion – has 5 legs)
Assyrian archers pursuing enemies, relief from the Northwest Palace of Ashurnasirpal II, Kalhu, Iraq, ca. 875-60 BCE. Painted Gypsum relief, 2’ 10” high Assyrian historical narrative reliefs commissioned for palace walls to show royal power and piety/episode from 878 BCE- Ashurnasirpal drove his enemy’s forces into the Euphrates River/artist told story clearly and economically= distances compressed, human actors large so stand out/different view points in same frame/ composite view of figures/ archers bowstrings in front of bodies but behind heads= didn’t want to hide their faces
Neo-Babylonian Art- King Nebuchadnezzar II (r. 604-562 BCE)/Ishtar Gate, restored (575 BCE)/Blue- Glazed Bricks which were molded and glazed separately/ profile figures of dragons and bulls alternate Neo-Babylonian kings held sway over the former Assyrian Empire until the Persian conquest. Babylon: city’s famous hanging gardens were counted among Seven Wonders of ancient world/ enormous ziggurat= Tower of Babel/ mud-brick city
Persepolis (royal audience hall in background), Iran, ca. 521-465 BCE Processional frieze (detail) on terrace of royal audience hall, Persepolis, Iran, ca. 521-465 BCE, Painted reliefs (project higher than Assyrian reliefs which are low) Subject: Persian nobles and dignitaries represent 23 subject nations bringing the king tribute (in national costume with regional gifts) Rounded forms/treatment of drapery folds= Greek influence Persian Art/Architecture – Persepolis citadel built by Darius I and Xerxes between 521-465 BCE/ stands on high plateau/ Alexander the Great sacked the site/royal audience hall (apadana) 60 ft. high and 217 ft. square, contained 36 colossal columns= thousands could stand in hall/ reliefs decorated walls of terrace and staircases
Palace of Shapur I, Iraq, ca. 250 BCE – Central Feature: monumental iwan (brick audience hall covered by a barrel vault (point is 900 ft. above ground)/ façade shows horizontal bands with blind arcades as wall decoration Triumph of Shapur I over Valerian (a Roman Emperor), rock-cut relief, Iran, ca. 260 BCE Shapur is larger than life wearing crown/ Roman soldiers lies beneath legs of horse (time-honored motif= personifies entire Roman army)/Valerian led in, kneels and begs for mercy/ cherub-like figure hovers, brings victory garland= like Roman art (ironic political message) Detail of rock-cut relief below Sasanian Art – Sasanians challenged the Romans and tried to force them out of Asia/ founded New Persian Empire 224 CE – endured for more than 400 years/ Arabs drove them out of Mesopotamia in 636/ son and successor of Artaxerxes (first Sasanian king) was Shapur I
Sasanian Art- Head of Sasanian King (Shapur II?) ca. 350 CE/Silver with Mercury Gilding/Repousse= hammered shape from single sheet of metal and pushed features out from behind/engraved details/mercury gilding adds to rich look and gives color/done by skilled court artist