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Mesopotamia (Revised)

Mesopotamia (Revised)



Art history of the Sumerians and successor states.

Art history of the Sumerians and successor states.



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    Mesopotamia (Revised) Mesopotamia (Revised) Presentation Transcript

    • Mesopotamia and the Near East The Roots of Western European Culture
    • Location of Mesopotamia
      • Meant “Between Two Rivers”: The Tigris and Euphrates
      • Empires: Sumeria followed by Akad then Assur (Assyria)
    • Neolithic: The Fertile Crescent
      • Fertile Crescent: starts at Levant (E. Mediterranean Sea; some would extend it to Egypt),
      • Upward into Turkey and Syria;
      • Then down to Iraq and Iran.
    • Near Eastern Neolithic
      • Mesopotamia was too dry to sustain local agriculture
      • Neolithic began in the Fertile Crescent, comprising
      • The Levant (eastern shore of the Mediterranean
      • Taurus Mountains of Turkey
      • Zagros Mountains of Iran
    • Wild Ancestors of Domesticates
      • The Fertile Crescent was the natural habitat of
      • Wild ancestors of domesticated plants
      • Wheat --Legumes (peas and beans)
      • Barley
      • Wild ancestors of domesticated animals
      • Cattle --Pigs
      • Sheep --Goats
    • Domestication Processes
      • “ Founder” plants were domesticated 9000-7000 BC
      • Grains (3) : Emmer and einkorn wheat, rye
      • Legumes (5): Lentils, peas, faba beans, chickpeas, bitter vetch
      • Flax for oil and fiber
    • Abu Hureyra: Domesticates
      • Location: Euphrates Valley in Syria
      • Shift from wild to domesticated species (left)
      • Bone count shows shift from gazelle to sheep and goat bone count around 6500 BC
      • Cattle and pig bone increases as well
      • Grain and legume remains also increase
    • Abu Hureya: Other Developments
      • Housing: rectangular mud brick (artist’s conception)
      • Site of Abu Hureyra (lower left)
      • Clay: There were containers, but no fired pottery
      • Evidence of trade:
      • Cowrie shells (Mediterranean)
      • Turquoise (Sinai)
      • Obsidian and other crystalline stone from Turkey
    • Abu Hureyra: Decline
      • Abandonment: 6000 BC
      • Factors
      • Arid conditions precluded farming
      • Pastoralism (herding) more viable in a grassland environment
      • Likely scenarios
      • Migration to the Zagros Mountains as herders
      • Movement to the upper part of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers
    • Mesopotamia: Introduction
      • Meaning: From the Greek, “between two rivers” (Euphrates and Tigris)
      • Location: southern strip of land between the Euphrates and Tigris River
      • First villages formed in northern Meso-potamian floodplain about 6000 BC
      • Seasonal rainfall sustained agriculture
      • Communities comprised several houses with roof entrances
    • Sites of Mesopotamia
      • This map shows Eridu Ur and Uruk in south in Sumer
      • Sources of many structures, (ziggurats), technology (wheels, metallurgy) and gods
      • Babylonia (Babilonia) to the northwest
      • Home of the lawgiver Hammurabi
    • The Gods of Mesopotamia: I
      • Anu : The father of the gods; god of heaven (above left)
      • Adad: the rain god, and of storms
      • Dumuzi (Tanmuz): God of vegetation and the Underword; Husband of Ishtar
      • Ishtar (Innana): Goddess of love, fertility, and war; Queen of Heavan; Nemesis of Gilgamesh (lower left)
    • The Gods of Mesopotamia II
      • Apsu: God of the primeval sweet waters
      • Ea: God of wisdom and patron of the arts
      • Enlil: God of earth, wind, and air (aka Marduk in later cultures)
      • Ninhursag: Mother goddess, creator of vegetation; wife of Enlil
      • Nisaba: Goddess of grain
      • Skanash: God of the sun, judge, and law giver; god of wisdom
      • Sin: Goddess of the moon
    • The Epic of Gilgamesh I
      • Gilgamesh represents a theme of the enjoyments of life That ends sooner or later
      • Gilgamesh is one-part human, two-part god, blessed with beauty and courage
      • When he spurns the love of Ishtar (the Queen of Heaven) and kills the Bull of Heaven, (upper left)
      • He is punished with the loss of his dearest (male) companion, Enkidu (depicted above right)
    • Epic of Gilgamesh II
      • Gilgamesh then goes on a quest for everlasting life
      • When he finds a plant that promises everlasting life, a serpent snatches it away (Left)
      • He is left with a vision of death, a “house of dust,” and a place of inescapable sadness
      • The snake recurs in the Book of Genesis and leads to the Fall of Man
    • The Prevailing Theme: Enjoyment and Despair
      • Michael Wood: The theme dominates the history of Iraq
      • The video shows how the theme of greatness followed by disaster recurs throughout Mesopotamian/Iraqi history
      • Another theme: constant warfare
      • Much of the art emphasizes battles, symbolic lions, and other manifestations of war.
    • Ubaid Era (5300-4100 BC): Overview
      • The population shifts from northern plains to southern river valley
      • The Area lacked:
      • Sufficient rainfall for dry (nonirrigated) farming
      • Plants and animals capable of domestication
      • Even usable stone and metal ores
      • Despite it all, by 4500 BC, towns and public buildings dotted the countryside
      • Irrigation sufficient to support a nonfarm population
      • Shrines and then temples emerged
    • Ubaid Era: Main Attributes
      • Spread of irrigation canals
      • Construction of temple complexes
      • A monochrome pottery design
      • Triangles, grids, zigzag lines were common (upper left)
      • Less decorative than the polychrome Halafian pottery originating in Syria
      • Ceramics made on slow-turning potter’s wheel
      • For lack of workable stone and metals, tools were made of fired clay (notice ceramic sickles, lower left)
    • Eridu (5000-3100 BC)
      • Most of the early structures at Eridu were residential
      • Later, public and ritual centers were erected
      • At its peak, population was 5000
      • In one site, a series of shrines were constructed, one over another (diagram, upper left)
      • Earliest, dated 5000 BC, was a simple shrine
      • By 3000 AD, a ziggurat was constructed in the form of a 200 yard square enclosure
      • Unidentified God statuette at Eridu (lower left)
    • Social Stratification: Eridu
      • Little sign of the extreme social differentiation that was to come
      • No elaborate funerary complexes found in this period
      • No sign of a single ruler dominating Sumeria
      • This city was the prototype of the city-state organization that was to come ( reconstructed ziggurat of Eridu)
    • Uruk Period (4100-3100 BC)
      • The first city, Uruk with a population of 10,000
      • Overshadowed by the Anu Ziggurat and later the White Temple
      • Named after the principal god Anu
      • Like Eridu, constructed over earlier shrines
      • The White Temple was constructed over the Anu Ziggurat
      • Both temples entailed massive manpower inputs—7500 man-years alone
      • Structures separated priestly residents from the populace
      • Walls were constructed in Early Dynastic Period (3100-2370 BC)
    • Ziggurat: Structure
      • Note the stairs and levels of the Ziggurat at Ur
      • For details of design, see pp. 56-57
    • Uruk and Vicinity: Technology and Trade
      • Pottery
      • Fine design of Ubaid gave way to crudely made utilitarian objects (upper left)
      • Plow was invented with a metal tipped wooden blade
      • Far more productive than the digging stick
      • Agricultural base diversified
      • Wheat, barley, flax, dates
      • Cattle raising and fishing
    • Uruk and Vicinity: Trade
      • Resource poor itself, Sumeria relied on trade
      • Main routes: the rivers (especially the Euphrates) and overland east-west
      • Products imported
      • Persian Gulf
      • Precious metals and stone: gold, silver, carnelian, lapus lazuli, onyx, alabaster
      • Textiles, skins, and ivory
      • Timber
      • Northern regions: copper
    • Uruk: Writing and Accounting, A Five-Step Model
      • Main source: Denise Schmandt-Besserat: Before Writing: From Counting to Cuneiform
      • Step 1, 9000 BP: 16 basic shapes, geometric, animal, or pottery jar forms;
      • Top of graphic: Seal form (upper right) depicting cattle (upper left)
      • Step 2, 6000 BP: 300 forms with varied markings (e.g.., distinctions between raw and finished materials)
    • Final Steps of Writing and Accounting
      • Step 3, 5500 BP: Bullae, or clay envelopes covering and indicating the tokens inside (upper left; this indicated oil)
      • Step 4, 5200 BP: Flattened tokens to indicate kind and amount of commodities recorded
      • Step 5, 5100 BP: Information recorded on clay tablets using cuneiform, or ideographic wedge-shaped, markings (see lower left)
      • This clay tablet indicates the sheep and goats owned by someone in Mesopotamia
    • Writing and Accounting: Refinements
      • Number of symbols
      • Early texts: 1500 symbols
      • One-for-one relations with commodity
      • Thus, one symbol represented wheat, another for chariot, a third for copper ingot or block
      • Later texts: 750 unique symbols
      • Advantage: Increased the control by administration of products and people
      • System was still cumbersome
      • Elements could be combined but not in the way we can
      • Cuneiform is not alphabet-based
      • Want to see your name in cuneiform? Log on to www.upennmuseum.com/cuneiform.cgi and follow instructions
    • Early Dynastic Period (3100-2370)
      • City states dominated Mesopotamia
      • 10-15 were present various times
      • Uruk itself increased to 50,000 inhabitants
      • Defensive walls were constructed
      • Monarchs became independent of temple rule
      • City states rose and fell
      • Uruk: Challenged by other city states around 2700 BC
      • Ur: Located 75 miles away, became Uruk’s principal economic and military rival
      • Bands of highwaymen, possibly pastoralists, raided the merchants en route
    • Ur
      • Site of the “Royal Cemetery” uncovered by Sir Leonard Woolley, English archaeologist
      • Site contained chariots, headdresses, lyres, jewelry
      • Classic example: lyres with bearded bull (upper left)
      • The blue is constructed from lapis lazuli crystals
      • Lower graphic is a typical Sumerian theme: animals with human faces
      • This comes from the front panel of a lyre
    • Evidence of Extreme Stratification: Burials
      • Sir Leonard Woolley unearthed 2500 burials
      • Fewer than 20 were of royalty
      • Queen Shub-ad (upper left) was lying on a bed accompanied by female attendants
      • 2 wagons drawn by oxen driven by male servants backed down into entry ramp
      • 59 bodies, mostly female, were on the ground near the tomb
      • All retainers were lavishly bedecked with crafted elements
      • Oxen dispatched, then all in the party consumed poison
      • Lyre with bull’s head (lower left) was associated with the Good Queen
    • Lower Class Graves
      • Of the other graves in the site
      • A large number contains modest quantity of goods
      • A far larger number contain none at all
    • Akkad
      • First of the empires that consolidated city states’
      • Sargon I led the expansion (Upper left)
      • Detail from Victory stelae from Susa (lower left, see also larger graphic on p. 63)
      • Irony: a stela intended to celebrate Akkadian victory actually documented their defeat
    • Lagash
      • Lagash, ruled by Gudea, succeeded Akkad
      • Gudea drew a temple plan from a vision of the gods (upper)
      • Lower: Gudea with temple plan on his lap
      • Represents a model of the inspiration of heaven on earth through Gudea as a channel
    • The Ziggurat of Ur: A Contrast with Egypt’s Pyramids
      • The ziggurats became ritual and administrative centers
      • The massive structure was intended to inspire awe among the subjects
      • The pyramids were to be eternal homes of the pharaohs
      • Ziggurats were built in states; pyramids were not
      • Egypt’s pyramids were of stone; ziggurats were built of mud bricks in a stone-poor region
    • Babylon: Code of Hammurabi
      • Hammurabi: The Lawgiver
      • As commerce increased, civil law served to regulate transactions
      • Criminal law was instituted
      • Lex talonis—eye for an eye—became one of the cornerstones
      • Here, Hammurabi receives the law code from the sun god
    • Babylon: Tower of Babel
      • Babylon was the site of another ziggurat, the Tower of Babel
      • Biblical interpretations: humankind’s intellectual arrogance
      • God imposed different languages on the builders
      • However, Babylon already had a diversity of languages and cultures
      • Why construction was halted remains a mystery
    • Warlike Themes: The Assyrians as Extreme Types
      • Even today, the Assyrians is a classic study of ruthless warfare
      • Under Assurnasirpal II, the Assyrians expanded his empire throughout Mesopotamia
      • Cruelty cited in his boast that he dyed the mountains red with blood
      • Combined war with culture, creating the largest library of the time
      • Included the creation myths and epics of Mesopotamia
      • Added to the arts reflecting war (left)
    • Neo-Babylonian Empire
      • A ziggurat dedicated to the god Marduk, thought to be the Tower of Babel in biblical lore
      • The Ishtar gate used the round arch, later to be imitated in Rome and Europe (above)
      • It was faced (covered) with glazed bricks
      • There was also a temple dedicated to Ishtar
    • Ishtar
      • Babylonia is associated with Ishtar in the Bible
      • She is said to be the patron of sacred prostitutes in her temple (upper left, a Phoenician rendition)
      • Women were to “lay with strangers” (at a price)
      • She was also a war goddess for the Assyrians
      • The Book of Revelation cites her as the Harlot (or Whore) of Babylon (lower left)
    • Conclusion
      • Themes of Mesopotamia are very different from those of Egypt
      • Egypt was relatively stable; Mesopotamia comprised warring city states
      • Empires rose, did not last long, fell to others
      • Mesopotamia was inventive; resource-poor, wealth had to come from technological innovations and trade
      • War was often the motor force for innovation
      • Art—depicting themes of war and powerful monarchs
      • Ishtar/Innana: “Make love and war”