Mesopotamian sculpted relief


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This is a short slide show of an Akkadian work and several Assyrian reliefs that demonstrate the passion for historical detail.

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Mesopotamian sculpted relief

  1. 1. A Passion for Historical Detail In the next slide we will begin with an example from the Akkadian Culture c. 2300 - 2100 BC
  2. 2. The Victory Stele of NaramsinRead about this in your text.Even though this is Akkadian –an earlier culture thanAssyrian, we can see that itdepicts certain stylisticcharacteristics that continue inMesopotamian art for centuriesand are similar to Egyptianstyle as well. Please note:Pose for the King at left --frontal chest but the rest of thebody in profile. (Same asEgyptian) This shows thepower and correct side “rightside” of the ruler.Symbols of Authority andKingship – Larger Scale. Wearsthe horned crown typical ofseveral cultures inMesopotamia.Directional Symbols – Upwardmotion of Kings soldiers atleft, downward motion ofenemy.
  3. 3. The Passion for Detailof Mesopotamian ArtThis is a detail of the centersection of the relief.Please Note: Above – Here we see thehead and chest of the enemythe King has stepped on. Hisleg is under the other fallencaptive.Second Figure – He fallslimply to his death, but yet tosymbolically give the Kingrespect, he still looks to him.Also note the attention toanatomy, although the figuredoes not have the idealizedmusculature reserved foronly royalty.Nakedness - Symbolic ofdeath. We will see thisconvention even in Medievalreliefs.
  4. 4. The Passion for Detailin Mesopotamian art. What similarities and/ or differences do you note in this style to Egyptian art such as in the Palette of King Narmer or Menes? Answer on the discussion board.
  5. 5. The Passion for Detailin Mesopotamian Art. Assyrian Culture Assyrian Art c. 1300 – 612 BCThe Assyrians continuedthis same interest in detailand brought it to an evenhigher level. Primarilythey are known for theirhistorical battle scenes.These lined the palacecourtyards at cities likeancient Khorsabad,Nimrud, and Nineveh. Their main function wasto impress dignitaries andvisitors with the mightand heroism of theirEmpire, which lastedlonger than any other inthe region—for approx.600 years.
  6. 6. Reliefs from the Can you see how Assyrian Relief Art is morePalace at Nimrud – 9th Perceptual than Egyptian?CenturyThrough Cuneiform inscriptions(not seen here) the Assyrians noteexactly which battle is depictedhere. It is their conquest overthe city of Lachish in Judah ormodern Israel, as recorded inIsaiah and Ezra.Note the same stylisticelements as seen in theNaram sin Relief:1. Falling enemy – especiallyin the center—the figureappears to be divingdownward, and also at left, wesee just the legs of another.3. A change in style andproportion due to class orculture. Note there is moremovement and liveliness ofdetail in the enemy than in thesoldiers.2. Symbolic DirectionalMotion.3. Bulging Muscle Definition.What other details do you see?Two wrestlers?
  7. 7. Details of the Conquest of the City of Lachish byAssyrian Passion for King Sennacherib (704-681 BC).Historical DetailWhat details regardingthe Assyrian capture ofthe city of Lachish do yousee?A battering ram?Weapons, ladders, boulders?Soldiers carrying the spoilsof war?Go to this web site formore images and views ofAssyrian art:
  8. 8. Relief from the Palace of Sennacherib atAssyrian Passion for Nineveh.Historical DetailFollowing is a quote from theBritish Museum on this piece.“This fragment shows a Phoenicianship. Phoenician is the Greek namegiven to the inhabitants ofCanaanite cities along the Levantcoast. They were an extremelywealthy people, profiting from thetrade that linked Mesopotamia andEgypt and the Mediterranean. TheAssyrians expanded westwards tocontrol these trade routes andacquire the wealth of the citiesthrough tribute, booty andtaxation. The demand by theAssyrians for materials led thePhoenicians to explore theMediterranean and establishtrading colonies at such places asSicily, Carthage in NorthAfrica, and Spain.”Notice the men in the ships withthe oars out into the waterrepresented by wavy lines. Wewill see an Aegean scene in Ch. 5of your text a little similar tothis.
  9. 9. There are many images of the King and his court fighting lions. Below isone from your text from the capital of the Assyrian Empire at Nineveh.Study the Style in your text.
  10. 10. AssyrianPerceptualismNote the detail and atendency toward violence,as the lion is being stabbedthrough by the sword of theKing Assurnazirpal.See also, one arrow at hishead, while others are flyingacross the body.Using Higher Relief and NoOverlapping As Status:Notice, at no point is theKing’s body overlapped bythe lion. Similar to theEgyptians, overlapping andspatial prominence is usedas a status or power symbol.
  11. 11. Assyrian King hunting The Lion Hunt Theme is used at Nimrud and also Lions at the Assyrian Capitol of Nineveh. Nineveh – 7th century BCWhy such an extremeinterest in Lions in Assyrianculture?This is a loaded question, buthere are some theories:1. It was strictlypropaganda, to show the King’sheroic strength and power.2. The lion was a danger to thearea, thus, the reliefs showedthe King as protector of thepeople. Once again the King3. According to biblical rides ON theaccounts, following the horse, but is still depicted in FRONTconquest of Samaria, lions had of the horse---onlybeen used by God for his left leg isdestruction over the idol- overlapped.worshipping, transplantedpeople . They had killed many, and had also proliferated andbecome a greater threat.(See 2 Kings 17:24-26)
  12. 12. Assyrian Passion forDetail andPerceptualism Study this one in your text. It is from the Palace of Assurnabanipal, at Nimrud.
  13. 13. A Carved Ivory inset with Assyrian Perceptualism and DramaLapis Lazuli and somegold from Nimrud.Can you see how this lion isreally attacking a Nubianslave?Their bodies areintertwined showing goodobservation by the Assyrianartist , especially of themuscles of the Nubian.
  14. 14. AssyrianPerceptualismWe must rememberthat these reliefswere painted. Thecolor does notsurvive.Here is an artistsdepiction of a detailof a lion hunt.