Chapter 2: Art of the Ancient Near East
6000 BCE, agriculture
developed in Mesopotamia
(“land between rivers”), the
plains in between the Tigris and
Euphrates riv...
Neolithic: Near East: 8,000 – 3,000 BCE
Neolithic: Europe: 6,500 – 1,200 BCE
Farming appeared in the Near East before it a...
Sumer and the Sumerians
The city and city-states developing along the rivers of Southern
Mesopotamia between 3500 and 2340...
Sumerian Writing System: Cuneiform
The origin of written language (c. 3200 B.C.E.) was invented as a tool
to keep an accou...
Pictography: expression and
communication by means of pictures
and drawings. These pictures and
drawings (called pictograp...
The Ziggurat: Sumerian’s Greatest Architectural Achievement
Huge stepped pyramid-like structures with a temple or shrine o...
Statues of gods and votive figures (images dedicated to the gods of
men and women) were placed in the temples. Was this st...
Lots of what we know about the Sumerians come from artifacts found
in royal burial tombs and temple ruins.
They worked in ...
Stele of Naram-Sin: The stele is a large upright stone slab often
inscribed with text or with relief carving .
http://clos...
Babylon: Hammurabi’s empire took control of Mesopotamia around
1792-1750 BCE. His capital city was known as Babylon and hi...
Assyria: The Assyrians rose to power around 1400 BCE in northern Mesopotamia,
collapsing around 600 BCE. The key leaders w...
Lamassus, head of man and body of lion or bull,
wings of eagle and horned headdress of a god.
Guardian figure at gate of c...
Neo-Babylonia – Persia: The Assyrian Empire which had previously
dominated the Near East came to an end at around 600 B.C....
Persia: Around 500 BCE the Persians gained power in
Mesopotamia. From the region of Parsus, or present day Iran,
they esta...
Persepolis included a massive
columned hall used for receptions by
Kings, called the Apadana. This hall
contained 72 colum...
Discussion Questions
1.
2.
3.
4.

What’s the significance of animal combat found in Near
Eastern art?
Ziggurats functioned...
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LU 3 Ancient Near East

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LU 3 Ancient Near East

  1. 1. Chapter 2: Art of the Ancient Near East
  2. 2. 6000 BCE, agriculture developed in Mesopotamia (“land between rivers”), the plains in between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. This map shows the Fertile Crescent, which is the roughly crescent shaped area in the Middle East that stretches in a semi-circle from Nile River in Egypt to the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in modern day Iraq. It contains the ancient countries Sumer, Babylonia, Assyria, Egypt, Phoenicia; from which the ancient Greeks and Romans derived their civilization structures.
  3. 3. Neolithic: Near East: 8,000 – 3,000 BCE Neolithic: Europe: 6,500 – 1,200 BCE Farming appeared in the Near East before it appeared in Europe. The cultivation of agriculture helped the development of large communities and permanent settlement, the earliest examples of city life. Being situated between two rivers in a desert plain, the area of Mesopotamia was subject to periodic floods and periodic drought. Thus the development of complex large-scale systems of irrigation to control the water supply. This led to the development of the first centers of urban living.
  4. 4. Sumer and the Sumerians The city and city-states developing along the rivers of Southern Mesopotamia between 3500 and 2340 BCE are known collectively as Sumer. Their major contributions: 1. Writing: cuneiform, used by the Sumerians, Akkadians, Assyrians, Babylonians and Persians. 2. Ziggurats 3. Wagon wheel and plow 4. Food production (plant and animal domestication) 5. Metallurgy; the science and technology of metals 6. A high degree of occupational specialization 7. The growth of cities
  5. 5. Sumerian Writing System: Cuneiform The origin of written language (c. 3200 B.C.E.) was invented as a tool to keep an accounting system of goods traded. It was a record of agricultural wealth of the city-states (ie barley, cattle, oil). Cuneiform is the type of script that was used, wedge shaped symbols that were pressed into clay tablets with a stylus. This was where the evolution of writing, arithmetic and the justice system originated. The world’s first literary epic is Sumerian: The Epic of Gilgamesh.
  6. 6. Pictography: expression and communication by means of pictures and drawings. These pictures and drawings (called pictographs). Starting in c. 3100 BCE, the Sumerians invented cuneiform -- the first true written language and the first real information system. Pronounced "coo-nay-eh-form" First development of signs corresponding to spoken sounds, instead of pictures, to express words. Pictographs were turned on their sides (2800 BCE) and then developed into actual cuneiform symbols (2500 BCE)
  7. 7. The Ziggurat: Sumerian’s Greatest Architectural Achievement Huge stepped pyramid-like structures with a temple or shrine on top. The elevated buildings also protected the shrines from flooding. They seem to be built to glorify the gods, a structure that are symbolically a bridge between the earth and the heavens – a meeting place for humans and their gods. Sumerian had many gods and goddesses. Inanna: The chief Sumerian goddess, associated with fertility, love, the natural world, and war. Later equated with the Babylonian Ishtar. Inanna was Nanna's daughter and associated with the Underworld. Nanna Ziggurat, Ur (present-day Muqaiyir, Iraq). c. 2100-2050 BCE
  8. 8. Statues of gods and votive figures (images dedicated to the gods of men and women) were placed in the temples. Was this statue of a woman a temple goddess? Votive offering: is an object left in a sacred place for ritual purposes. Votive figures are rigid, frontal, symmetric, enlarged open eyes, simple geometric forms of cones and cylinders. Uruk was the first Sumerian city-state. There were two large temples in the 1000-acre city (present day Warka, Iraq). One was dedicated to Inanna, the goddess of love and war, and the other to the sky god Anu. Head of a Woman, from Uruk (present day Warka, Iraq) c. 33003000 BC. Marble, height 8”
  9. 9. Lots of what we know about the Sumerians come from artifacts found in royal burial tombs and temple ruins. They worked in precious metals, such as bronze and gold, and combined them with other materials. This wood lyre was found in a tomb buried with women that would play it for funeral ceremony. It’s inlaid with shell and the bull’s head is made of gold and lapis lazuli. Cylinder seals were developed as signatures for special documents and establishing property ownership. Made of hard stone with intricate scenes incised on them, the seals were often buried with royalty. They would be rolled across documents on clay tablets or soft clay applied to a closure that needed sealing, a door to a room or a jar lid.
  10. 10. Stele of Naram-Sin: The stele is a large upright stone slab often inscribed with text or with relief carving . http://closerlook.pearsoncmg.com/view.php? type=closerlook&id=502# Registers: The elaborate stories and complex characters found in Mesopotamian visual narrative had sculptors engrave them clearly and economically in horizontal bands called registers. The Epic of Gilgamesh story was found on the register carved on the Great Lyre with Bull’s Head. Victory Stele of NaramSin, Akkadian, pink limestone, 2254-2218 B.C.E. (Louvre, Paris)
  11. 11. Babylon: Hammurabi’s empire took control of Mesopotamia around 1792-1750 BCE. His capital city was known as Babylon and his subjects Babylonians. Hammurabi conquered much of northern and western Mesopotamia and by 1776 B.C.E., he is the most farreaching leader of Mesopotamian history, describing himself as “the king who made the four quarters of the earth obedient.” Documents show Hammurabi was a classic micro-manager, concerned with all aspects of his rule, and this is seen in his famous legal code, the Code of Hammurabi, a 7’4” stele made of black basalt. This is our first example of legal code and justice system in the ancient world. It is said that this is a precursor to the 10 commandments, which came about 500 years later. http://smarthistory.khanacademy.org/law-code-stele-of-kinghammurabi.html
  12. 12. Assyria: The Assyrians rose to power around 1400 BCE in northern Mesopotamia, collapsing around 600 BCE. The key leaders were Assurnasirpal II, who established his capital at Kalhu (present day Nimrud, Iraq), and Assurbanipal. The art that the Assyrians contributed were huge palaces atop high platforms insided fortified cities. The palaces were decorated extensively with shallow stone reliefs of battle and hunting scenes, tributes to the king, and religious imagery. The Assyrian empire dominated Mesopotamia and all of the Near East for the first half of the first millennium, led by a series of highly ambitious and aggressive warrior kings. Assyrian society was entirely military, with men obliged to fight in the army at any time. State offices were also under the purview of the military. Indeed, the culture of the Assyrians was brutal, the army seldom marching on the battlefield but rather terrorizing opponents into submission who, once conquered, were tortured, raped, beheaded, and flayed with their corpses publicly displayed. The Assyrians torched enemies' houses, salted their fields, and cut down their orchards. Luxurious Palaces As a result of these fierce and successful military campaigns, the Assyrians acquired massive resources from all over the Near East which made the Assyrian kings very rich. Some of this wealth was spent on the construction of several gigantic and luxurious palaces spread throughout the region. The palaces were on an entirely new scale of size and glamor; the palace of Kalhu, built by Assurnasirpal II (who reigned in the early 9th century), had almost 70,000 people invited to banquet. The interior public reception rooms of Assyrian palaces were lined with large scale carved limestone reliefs which offered beautiful and terrifying images of the power and wealth of the Assyrian kings and some of the most beautiful and captivating images in all of ancient Near Eastern art. http://smarthistory.khanacademy.org/neo-assyrian-lamassu.html
  13. 13. Lamassus, head of man and body of lion or bull, wings of eagle and horned headdress of a god. Guardian figure at gate of citadel. Naturalistic representation. Dur Sharrukin (present day Khorsabad, Iraq). c. 721-706 BCE This vivid relief of a lion-hunting scene shows a ceremonial hunt. It’s action-oriented story marks a shift in Mesopotamian art away from timeless solemnity and toward a more dramatic involvement with the event itself portrayed. Assurnasirpal II Killing Lions, palace of Assurnasirpal II, Kalhu (present day Nimrud, Iraq). c. 875-860 BCE.
  14. 14. Neo-Babylonia – Persia: The Assyrian Empire which had previously dominated the Near East came to an end at around 600 B.C.E. due to a number of factors including military pressure by the Medes (a pastoral mountain people, again from the Zagros mountain range), the Babylonians, and possibly also civil war. The Neo-Babylonians are most famous for their architecture, notably at their capital city, Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar (604-561 B.C.E.) largely rebuilt this ancient city including its walls and seven gates. It is also during this era that Nebuchadnezzar purportedly built the "Hanging Gardens of Babylon" for his wife because she missed the gardens of her homeland in Media (modern day Iran). Though mentioned by ancient Greek and Roman writers, the "Hanging Gardens" may, in fact, be legendary. http://smarthistory.khanacademy.org/ishtargate-and-processional-way.html Ishtar Gate and Throne Room Wall, Originally from Babylon (present day Iraq), c. 575 BCE. Glazed brick, height originally 40’
  15. 15. Persia: Around 500 BCE the Persians gained power in Mesopotamia. From the region of Parsus, or present day Iran, they established a vast empire. The famous rulers from this empire started with King Achaemenes, and his disciples were Aechemenids. Darius I was another significant ruler, known as the “King of Kings.” Like other rulers he created palaces and citadels as visible symbols of his authority. In 515 BCE he began construction of Parsa, the Persian capitol known today as Persepolis. He imported material, artists and workers from all over the empire, even Egypt. The result was a multicultural style of art that combined many different traditions: Persian, Median, Mesopotamian, Egyptian, and Greek.
  16. 16. Persepolis included a massive columned hall used for receptions by Kings, called the Apadana. This hall contained 72 columns and two monumental stairways. The walls of th spaces and stairs leading up to the reception hall were carved with hundreds of figures, several of which illustrated subject peoples of various ethnicities, bringing tribute to the This relief of Darius and Xerxes receiving tribute depicts and display of allegiance and economic prosperity. Persian king.
  17. 17. Discussion Questions 1. 2. 3. 4. What’s the significance of animal combat found in Near Eastern art? Ziggurats functioned symbolically as what? The first domestication of grains occurred where? Select 2 rulers discussed in this chapter and explain how each preserved his legacy through commissioned works of art and/or architecture.

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