Ancient near east 2010

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  • Architecture from this period epitomizes “controlled space” this is a kind of civic design that rulers and governments-consciously of not-have used since the time of Assyrian city-states to impress and intimidate the visitors/viewers. The architecture and city designs were designed to envelop the people breathtaking examples of ceremonial urbanism. Meaning the city itself is used as a stage for the ritual dramas of ruler ship that reinforce and confirm absolute power. From a distance one would be able to see the magnitude of this force and up close one would be over powered and in awe of the sheer size and beauty of the lamassus and the entrance gate.
  • Summerians are known for many 1 st ’s like the wagon wheel and plow and objects cast in copper and bronze. 1) Sumer was divided into city states each ruled by a different god/goddess. The ruler for each city state was the deity’s representative on earth. The priest or ruler would decide everything including the job or role in society that you would have. 2) Most known for their form of writing once known as the 1 st to invent writing but recent discoveries say the Egypt was writing at the same time…earlier versions of hieroglyphs. Stylus was used to make the wedge shaped symbols used to document business records. Over time Sumerian tablets document the gradual evolution of writing and arithmetic, tools for commerce, an organized system of justice and of course the world’s 1 st epic literature-- Epic of Gilgamesh 3) Step pyramid with a shrine or temple on top; ramp for sacrificial animals; very different from Egypt 4) Strict adherence to stylized shapes and methods of composition
  • Ziggurats were step pyramids with a temple or some kind of shrine on top. The structures would be built one on top of another using the foundation of and old to build higher with the new. This help protect the buildings from floods. The reason the step pyramids rose above the flat plains they were built on is a definite sign of wealth and prestige, and stability of a city’s rulers and also as a means to glorify the gods. The symbolic meaning of the Ziggurats provided a bridge between the earth and the heavens, it also provided a meeting place for the humans and gods to meet. Temples were given such names as “House of the Mountain” and “Bond btw Heaven and Earth” Priests and priestesses used the ziggurats as waiting rooms for the gods to reveal themselves. Using only mud bricks the Sumerians built these structures several centuries before the Egyptian pyramids. The tallest ziggurat was located in Babylon and is known to the Hebrews as the Tower of Babel.
  • Sculpture of this period was associated w/ religion, large statues like these were placed in temples as objects of devotion. The sizes of these votive figures range in size 12-30”; they are made of gypsum=stone w/ shell; and black limestone; All mortal no deities; gesture of prayer; holding goblets used in religious rites many of these have been found in the temple of Tell Asmar; many figures are inscribed w/ name of donor; or private prayers to the gods; heads tilted as waiting in the waiting room for the god to ascend down; simple stylized not portraits; look on faces indicates sense of awe when confronted w/ the supernatural; mesmerized; oversized eyes; tiny hands The religious practice: these small statues of individual worshipers would be placed before a larger, more elaborate image of a god. Anyone who could afford to might commission a self-portrait and dedicate it to a shrine. A simple inscription might identify the figure as “One who offers prayers” Longer inscriptions might recount in detail all the things the donor had accomplished in the god’s honor. The cuneiform texts reveal the importance of approaching a god with an attentive gaze, hence the wide-open eyes. Each sculpture served as a stand in, at perpetual attention, making eye contact, and chanting its donor’s praises through eternity. Following conventions of Sumerian art the sculptors of Eshnunna represent the figures with simplified faces and bodies and dress that emphasized the cylindrical shapes. They stand solemnly, hands clasped in respect. Eye brows are inlaid with dark shell or stone or bitumen emphasizing their huge starring eyes. Male figures are bare-chested and dressed in sheepskin skirts, they have a stocky muscular build, w/ heavy legs, large feet, big shoulders & cylindrical bodies. The 2 female figures the tall regal woman in the center and the smaller woman on the far left) have somewhat slighter figures but are just as square shouldered as the men.
  • The city sates of Sumer were often at war with one another due to their quarrelsome nature and also due to he wealth of their rulers. Many amazing objects were discovered in the Royal Cemetery at Ur. Its still debated as to weather those buried here were true kings and queens or aristocrats. None the less this piece was one of the most important discoveries. This work of art was not the most costly object found in the “royal” graves but it was the most significant from the point of view of the history of art. It is a rectangular box not clear of he function with sloping sides inlaid with lapis lazuli and red limestone. The 2 long sides of the box are divided into 3 horizontal bands. One side is the “war side” the other is the “peace side” On the war side the narrative reads form left to right and bottom to top: 1 st we see 4 war chariots (earliest yet known) crushing the enemies; then a group of foot soldiers gathers up and leads away the captured foes; in the upper most register, naked and bound captives are presented to a king like figure, who has stepped out of his chariot and who is set apart from all the other figures not only by his central placement but also by his great stature. The peace side one also read from the bottom up, at the bottom men are shown carrying what may be tribute given to their conquerors. In the middle attendants bring animals and fish for the great banquet and int eh top register we see seated dignitaries and a larger than life “king” (3 rd from the left) feast while a lyre player and singer (at the far right) entertain the group. The absence of an inscription prevents us from connecting the scenes w/ a specific event, but there is no doubt that this is some kind of historical narrative. This is not however the 1 st historical narrative currently the oldest to date is an Egyptian relief that was carved over 3 centuries earlier than this. The figures are essential in the frontal view not exact profile b/c that would take away from the key characteristics of the human anatomy needed to define the figures. Physically they appear to be in profile but the eyes are in front view. We see this similar pose in the ancient cave paintings of Spain and also in the Egyptian hieroglyphs. This characteristic is common in the Pre-Classical world. By using this pose the artist has indicated the parts of the human body that enter our concept of what the human form looks like and avoids positions, and views that would conceal or obscure the characterizing parts. E.g. is the the figures were in strict profile then an arm or a leg might be concealed; the body would only have ½ its breadth and the eye would not read as an eye at all b/c it would not have its distinctive flat oval shape, and the pupil, which was SOO important to the Tell Asmar Figures, would not appear. We call this approach “conceptual” not “optical” b/c the artist does not record the immediate aspect but rather the concept of the distinguishing properties of the human body.
  • Sumerian artists worked in various metals including bronze. Many of their creations were decorated with or were shaped in the form of animals. This Harp is an excellent example of their great craftsmanship. It was found in the king/queens tomb of in Ur. They have combined wood gold lapis lazuli imported form Afghanistan and shell. On 1 end of the lyre projects the 3 dimensional head of a beaded bull, intensely lifelike despite the decorative blue beard. On the panel below the head we see 4 registers that are carved in shell and bitumen. At the button a scorpion-man holds clappers in his raised hands. He is attended by a gazelle who is standing on his hind legs and holding out two tall cups, perhaps filled from the larger container from which a ladle sticks out. The scene above this one depicts a trio of animal musicians. A seated donkey plucks the strings of the bull lyre-showing how the instrument was played-while a standing bear braces the instruments frame and a seated fox plays a small percussion instrument, maybe a rattle. The next register shows attendants, also walking erect bringing food and drink for a feast. On the left a hyena assuming the role of a butcher w/ a knife in its belt carries a table piled high w/ pork and mutton. A lion follows w/ a large wine jug and pouring vessel. In the top panel, facing forward, is an athletic man w/ long hair & a full beard, naked except for a wide belt, who is clasping 2 rearing human-headed bulls. Bc/ the lyre and others like it were found in graves and were used in funeral rites, their imagery probably depicts the fantastic realm of the dead, offerings to the goddess of the underworld or a funeral banquet.. The animals shown were the guardians of the gateway that they had to pass thru. Cuneiforms documents preserved songs of mourning which were probably sung by priests while the lyre was playing in the back ground.
  • During Sumerian domination the Acadians settled into the north of Urk and adopted Sumerian culture. However they spoke a language entirely different from Sumer, they spoke Semantic language (same family as a Arabic and Hebrew) Under the powerful military and political figure of Sargon I (2332-2279 BCE) they conquered the Sumerian cities and most of Mesopotamia. For more than ½ a century, Sargon ruled this empire form his capital at Akkad, the actual site has yet to be discovered, but it is near Babylon. As “King of the 4 Worlds” Sargon assumed broad earthly powers and also elevated himself to the status of a god, a precedent followed by later Akkadian rulers. This system of royal power mean that people served their loyalty to the king rather than the city-state, in fact cities were considered servants to the king. This bronze head of an Akkadian King was found at Nineveh. It embodies this new concept of absolute monarchy, and the damage it later suffered is a result of its status as a political work of art. The head is all that is left of a body that was overturned and damaged as result of being a political piece, not all of the damage is from the sculpture toppling over, but rather from force, for the eyes are gouged out, the lower part of the beard has been broken off & the ears have been mutilated. However one can still see how the artist conveys a majestic serenity, dignity and sense of authority. Very distinctive Sematic features have been carefully recorded in this sculpture, like the profile of the nose the long curly beard. The artist has also paid very close attention to the variety of textures on the face. The mustache and beard have distinctly different patterns, the smooth fleshy part of his cheeks are distinguished by the smooth surface juxtaposed to the linear elements of he hair. A great deal of time was also spent on the formal pattern found in the head dress. One can also tell that the artist had a great sophisticated skill in casting and polishing the bronze. This portrait is the 1 st great work of bronze sculpture.
  • This stele probably came originally from Sippar, and Akkadian city of the Euphrates River, in what is now Iraq. It was discovered at Sippar, however, some 300 miles to the southeast.. Raiders from Elam presumably took it there as booty in the 12 th century BCE The concept of imperial Authority was literally carved in the stone of Naramsin, Sargon’s grandson. It is an early example of a work of art created to celebrate the achievements of an individual ruler. The sculptor’s used the stele’s pointed shape, accommodating the carved mountain, as a dynamic part of the composition. However breaking with visual tradition, they replaced the horizontal registers w/ wavy ground lines. The images stand on their own, w/ no explanation inscription, but the god-like king is immediately recognizable. Watched over by 3 solar deities, symbolized by the rayed suns in the sky, Naramsin ascends a mountain wearing a horned crown associated w/ deities. He stands at the dramatic center of the scene, closest to the mountaintop, silhouettes against the sky. His greater size is in heretic relationship to his soldiers, who follow at regular intervals, passing conquered enemy forces sprawled in death or begging for mercy. Both the king and his warriors hold their weapons upright. Although this stele depicts Akkadins in triumph, they manage to dominate the region for only another ½ century
  • The Gutians brought Akkadian power to an end and the cities of Sumer revolted and drove out the Gutians and extablished a Neo Sumerian state ruled by the kings of Ur. The city of Ur where the above temple is located. This temple was dedicated to the moon god Nanna, also called Sin, although it was originally built on top of another structure the height of this temple is really elevated by design. The rectangular base is 190’ x 130’, with 3 sets of stairs converging at an imposing entrance gate at the top of the 1 st of 3 platforms. Each of the platforms walls angle outward from top to base, this was intended to keep rainwater from making puddles that would erode the mud brick below. The 1 st 2 walls have been reconstructed in recent times; little remains of the upper level and of the temple.
  • In 2180 BCE the Akkadian empire fell under attack by the Gudi a mountain people from the north east. They controlled most of Mesopotamia for a brief time then the Sumerians regained control of their own region and of Akkad. The one Sumerian city-state that remained independent during the period of Guti was Lagash (today is modern Telloh, Iraq) under the ruler Gudea. Gudea built and restored many temples, in which he placed votive statues representing himself as a governor and as the embodiment of just rule. Dozens of statues of him, seated or standing hands clasped tightly, long garment leaving one shoulder expose, woolen brimmed hat. These statues are made of diorite, which is very hard stone that was very difficult to work with, prompting the sculptors to use compact, simplified forms for the portraits. 20 of these figures survive, making Gueda’s face very familiar in ancient Near East. Gueda’s images present him as a strong, peaceful, pious ruler worthy of divine favor. Weather he is sitting or standing, he wears a garment similar the that of the female figures form Eshnunna, which provides plenty of space for cuneiform inscriptions. Good fortune for him and his city is attributed to the gods so many statues of him enabled him to be symbolically present in the temples serving the deities. Much more detailed disproportionate hands are depicted to emphasize piety. The treatment of the human body, just like in other Mesopotamian figures, emphasizes the power centers: the eyes, head and smoothly muscled chest and arms. His face is peaceful and serine and the eyes are oversized and wide open the return the gaze of the deity and also to express intense concentration. Even though the statues are about 2 ½ feet tall it still gives off an impression of grandeur.
  • Stele is a stone slab placed vertically and decorated w/ inscriptions or releifs. Used as a grave marker or memorial. Stele of Hammurabi bearing the Code of King Hammurabi of Babylon. The code inscribed on it recognized social classes and sought to regulate private life. At the top, Hammurabi approaches the seated sun god, Shamash, who was also the god of justice. Hammurabi is on the left; Shamash the sun god & god of justice is on the right holding symbols of divine power, measuring rod and rope circle. Hammurabi listens respectfully, standing in prayer. Shamash sits on his throne, dressed in a long flounced robe and he is crowned by a cone horned cap. Flames rise from his shoulders, and he holds additional symbols of power as he gives the law to King Hammurabi, who act as the intermediary btw the god and the people. Four not 8 horns are shown in profile on the gods headdress. By using diagonal lines in the beard and not vertical indicates that the artist is trying to show foreshortening; this also suggests a recession from the picture plane; this testifies to the brilliance of the near eastern artists; innovations like this were isolated phenomena‘s. Next you can see the laws themselves flow in horizontal bands of beautifully carved cuneiform signs. The idea of god-given laws engraved on stone tables is a longstanding tradition in the ancient Near East e.g. Moses and the 10 commandments. A prologue on the front of the stele lists the temples Hammurabi has restored, and an epilogue on the back glorifies Hammurabi as a peacemaker, but most of the stele was intended to ensure uniform treatment of people throughout his kingdom.
  • After centuries of struggle among Sumer, Akkad, Lagash, and Mari in southern Mesopotamia the Assyrians rose to power in northern Mesopotamia Assyrian art= dominant power in the near eastern world firmly established by 900 BC; these people dealt with unremitting warfare against neighbors and rebellious subjects; subsequently they became hardened and cruel and merciless. By the early 7 th century BCE they had extended their influence as far west as Egypt. Soon after they succumbed to internal weakness and external enemies by 600 BCE their empire had collapsed.
  • The Babylonians were taken over by the Hittites and the Elamites. The Assyrians from Northern Iraq rose up and vanquished the invaders. The Assyrians were a very powerful civilization and their artwork emphasizes a feeling of grandeur and confidence.
  • Assyrian rulers built huge palaces atop high platforms inside the different fortified cities that served at one time or another as the Assyrian capital. These palaces were decorated with scenes of victorious battles, presentations of tribute to the king, combat btw men and beasts, and religious imagery. Sargon II built a new Assyrian capital at Dur Sharrukin (modern Khorsabad, Iraq) At the northwest side a walled citadel (fortress) containing 200 rooms and 30 courtyards straddled the city wall. The palace complex was located behind the citadel on a raised platform about 52’ high. This raised platform demonstrates the use of art as propaganda to support political power. Guarded by 2 towers, it was only accessible by a wide ramp leading up from an open square, around which the residences of important government and religious officials were clustered. Beyond the ramp was the main courtyard, with service buildings on the right and temples on the left. The heart of the palace lay just past the main courtyard and it was protected by a reinforced wall with only 2 small doors. Ever fearful of attack this citadel covered 25 acres; over 200 courtyards and rooms; 50 ft high keeping it above flood level; This height also keeps the king btw his subjects and gods. The construction has basic symmetry but rambling off square and rectangular courtyards. Behind the courtyard (each 300 ft in length) resides the king all visitors entered from another courtyard passing thru central entrance guarded by demons, and 13 ft tall walls were lined w/ figures of the king and his courtiers. Sargon considered this palace an expression of his grandeur built by captive slaves with in 7 stages, 18 feet high all different colors. The ramp spiraled around building from base to summit (known as Sumerian bent axis approach). The massive wall is broken by huge towers and they arch around the towers large freezes of brilliant colors intended to overwhelm the visitor.
  • Ward off kings enemies Winged man-headed bulls High relief's partly in the round Front view at rest side view in motion 5 legs 2 from the front Four from the side Early evidence of the conceptual picture
  • Victories over battle fields; triumphs over beasts; very little sculpture in the round At its height, the Assyrian Empire ranged from Iran to Egypt.  The "king hunting lions" is a common theme used to show the king's power and by the 9th Century BCE the lion hunt was primarily ceremonial.  Low relief sculpture, like those below, are filled with action scenes of the hunt and of battles, often with blood shown spurting out of the enemy's or the lion's wound. 
  • Blood streaming from wounds; drags hind quarters; paralyzed by piercing her spine; swelling veins; flexed muscle; flattened ears; hard realism under the control of formality; most likely the artist intended to exaggerate the pile of killings the king made.
  • At the end of the 7 th century BCE the Medes and Scythians from frigid regions of modern Russia and Ukraine invaded the northern and eastern parts of Assyria. Meanwhile under anew royal dynasty the Babylonians reasserted themselves. This Neo-Babylonian kingdom began attacking Assyrian cities in 615 BCE and formed a treaty w/ the Medes. In 612 the allied army captured Nineveh. When the dust settled, Assyria was no more. The Medes controlled the land below the Black and Caspian seas, and the Neo-Babylonians controlled a region that stretched from modern Turkey to northern Arabia and from Mesopotamia to the Mediterranean sea. The ruler Nebuchadnezzar II was a great patron of architecture, he built many temples dedicated to the Babylonian gods thru out his and transformed Babylon into one of the most splendid citied of its day. Babylon straddled the Euphrates river and it was joined in 2 sections by a bridge. The eastern section had a beautiful Processional Way, which was the route taken by the religious processions honoring the city's patron god, Marduk. This street ran from the Euphrates river past the temple and palaces and ended at the Ishtar Gate. The walls (like the one above) on either side of the route were faced w/ dark blue bricks that were glazed. Against the blue background, specially molded turquoise, blue and gold colored bricks formed images of striding lions, which are symbols of the goddess Ishtar.
  • The double-arched Ishtar Gate, a symbol of Babylonian power. It is decorated w/ tiers of the dragons sacred to Marduk and the bulls w/ blue horns and tails associated with other deities This gate is the epitome of Mesopotamian formality; figures are stately & lead the gods toward the Sacred Way; architecturally speaking this is one of the most colorful pieces known. 60 stately figures of lions in relief on highly colored glazed brick; yellow-brown & red against turquoise blue Flanking crenulated towers similar to earlier Babylonia and Assyrian architecture Nebuchadnezzar's new city of Babylon was surrounded by a wall.  The "Gate of Ishtar,“ was the northern entry to the city opening to the Processional Way that lead to the temple.  The "Gate of Ishtar" has been reconstructed and restored, and resides in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin, Germany
  • In the 6 th century BCE the Persians, formerly a nomadic clan, began to seize power. Form the region Parsa or Persis, southeast Susa, they eventually overwhelmed Mesopotamia and the rest of he ancient Near East and established a vast empire. The rulers of the new empire traced their ancestry to a semi legendary Persian king named Achaemenids. Their dramatic expansion began in 559 BCE w/ the ascension of the well known Cyrus II. By the time of his death the Persian empire included Babylonia, Media, Anatolia; and some of the Aegean islands for to the west. Conquests continued, and when Darius I, the son of a government official, took the throne, he could proclaim: “I am Darius, great King, King of Kings, King of countries, King of this earth. Darius imported materials, workers and artists from all over his empire to execute his building projects. He even ordered work to be made in Egypt and transported back to his capital. The result was new style of art that combined MANY different cultural traditions, including Persian, Mede, Mesopotamian, Egyptian, and Greek. This artistic integration reflects Darius’s far reaching political strategy. The Palace complex above known as Persepolis, the name the Greeks gave it, is one of the best –preserved ancient sites in the Near East.
  • The central stair way of the ceremonial complex at Persepolis displays relief's of animal combat and tiered ranks of royal guards, the “10,000 Immortals” and delegation of tribute bearers. The figures cover the walls with repeated patterns. Unlike the bellicose Assyrian relief's, however, Persian sculpture emphasizes the extent of the empire and the economic prosperity under Persian rule. The elegant drawing, calculated compositions, and sleek modeling of figures reflect the Persian’s knowledge of Greek art and perhaps the use of Greek artists. The heavily fortified complex of royal buildings on a high plateau contained a royal audience hall. It was 60 feet high, 217 feet square with 36 colossal columns.
  • Sculpture at Persepolis displayed the unity and economic prosperity of the empire rather than the heroic exploits of its rulers.
  • Persian invention no known antecedents or descendants
  • Persians’ did many “decorative arts” like ornamented weapons, domestic wares (like above), horse trappings, and jewelry. All of their decorative arts demonstrate high levels of technical and artistic sophistication Persian’s excellent silversmiths and goldsmiths; drinking vessel; detail in feathering wings Animal-human-bird figures
  • Ancient near east 2010

    1. 1. Ancient Near Eastern Art 3500-330 BCE
    2. 2. Sumer <ul><li>Southern Iraq </li></ul><ul><li>Formal religion </li></ul><ul><li>Cuneiform writing </li></ul><ul><li>Stylus </li></ul><ul><li>Ziggurat </li></ul><ul><li>Formalization/conventionalization </li></ul>
    3. 3. White Temple and ziggurat, Uruk, c. 3200-3000 BCE
    4. 4. Sumer <ul><li>Votive Statues </li></ul><ul><li>C. 2700 BC-2600 BCE </li></ul>
    5. 5. Sumer <ul><li>Scenes of War , panel from Standard of Ur </li></ul><ul><li>C. 2700 BCE </li></ul>War side Peace Side
    6. 6. Sumer <ul><li>Bull headed Lyre from tomb </li></ul><ul><li>C. 2600 BCE </li></ul>
    7. 7. Akkad <ul><li>Head of Akkadian Ruler , from Nineveh </li></ul><ul><li>C. 2200 BCE </li></ul><ul><li>bronze </li></ul>
    8. 8. AKKAD <ul><li>Stele of Naramsin </li></ul><ul><li>C. 2254-2218 BCE </li></ul><ul><li>Limestone </li></ul>
    9. 10. <ul><li>N anna Ziggurat of Ur </li></ul><ul><li>C. 2100 BCE </li></ul>
    10. 11. Neo-Sumerian <ul><li>Gueda worshiping, from Telloh, Iraq </li></ul><ul><li>C. 2100 BCE </li></ul><ul><li>Diorite </li></ul>
    11. 13. Babylonia <ul><li>Stele of Hammurabi, from Shush, Iran </li></ul><ul><li>C. 1780 BCE </li></ul><ul><li>Basalt </li></ul>
    12. 15. Assyria Terms <ul><li>Lamassu </li></ul><ul><li>High relief </li></ul><ul><li>Bas (low) relief </li></ul>
    13. 16. Assyria <ul><li>Citadel of Sargon II, Khorsabad </li></ul><ul><li>C. 720 BCE </li></ul>
    14. 17. Assyria <ul><li>Winged Human-Headed Bull (lamassu), from Khorsabad </li></ul><ul><li>C. 720 BC </li></ul><ul><li>Limestone </li></ul>
    15. 21. Assyria <ul><li>Hunting Lions, from Nineveh, c. 650 BCE </li></ul><ul><li>Limestone </li></ul>
    16. 22. Assyria <ul><li>Dying Lioness, from Nineveh, c . 650 BCE, Limestone </li></ul>
    17. 23. Neo-Babylonia <ul><li>Lion from the Processional Way, Ishtar Gate, </li></ul><ul><li>c . 575 BCE, Glazed brick </li></ul>
    18. 25. Neo-Babylonia <ul><li>Ishtar Gate, </li></ul><ul><li>C. 575 BCE, </li></ul><ul><li>Glazed brick </li></ul>
    19. 26. Persia <ul><li>Palace complex at Persepolis, c. 500 BCE </li></ul>
    20. 28. Persia <ul><li>Subjects Bringing Gifts to the King, from Persepolis; c. 500 BCE, Limestone </li></ul>
    21. 29. <ul><li>Bull capital from the royal audience hall of the palace of Artaxerxes </li></ul><ul><li>C. 375 BCE </li></ul><ul><li>Gray marble </li></ul>
    22. 30. Rhyton Cup, 500 BCE

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