Ancient Near Eastern Art
● Ancient Mesopotamia:
● Persian Art
● 3500BCE - Sumerian city of Uruk emerges
● 2900BCE - Mesopotamians begin using cuneiform writing
● 2350BCE - Conflict over Sumerian city states over access to water and fer Fle land.
● 2100BCE - Earliest surviving tablets of the Epic of Gilgamesh
● 1792-1750BCE - Hammurabi rules Babylon
● 1595BCE - The Hittites Conquer Babylon
● 1400-1200BCE - Apogee of the Hittite Empire
○ Assyrians take over
● 612BCE - End of the Assyrian Empire
○ Babylonians resurgent
● 604-662BCE - Reign of Babylonian ruler Nebuchadnezzar II
● 559-530BCE - Rule of Cyrus the Great - Persian leader overthrows the Medes
● 331BCE - Alexander the Great defeats the Persians
Sumerian Deed of Sale. 2400 - 2200 BCE. The British Museum. Length: 16.17cm Width:
19.05cm Thickness: 6.88cm
Babylonian Deed of Sale. ca. 1750 BCE. The British Museum, London.
Two Central Themes emerge:
● Art enabled and reflected political power
● Mesopotamians used visual narrative
○ Wanted to sell stories through art
Sumerian Art and Culture:
● Sumerian city of Uruk emerges 3500 BCE
● Mesopotamians begin using cuneiform 2900 BCE
● Theocratic Socialism
○ An economic system where the fundamental authoritative figures are the Gods.
This system was used during the ancient mesopotamian period in the ancient cities of Uruk (or Warka) and to some extent during the neo mesopotamian
period in the city of Uruk.
Main Forms of Art:
Ruins of the Anu Ziggurat and White Temple. Uruk. C. 3300 - 3000 BCE. 2-2.
Archaeological site at Uruk (modern Warka)
Digital reconstruction of the White Temple and Ziggurat, Uruk (modern Warka), c. 3517 - 3358
BCE. German Archaeological Institute.
Section Through the Central Hall of the “White Temple,” digital reconstruction of the interior of
the two-story version White Temple, Uruk (modern Warka), c, 3517 - 3358 BCE.
Interior View of the two-story Version of the “White Temple,” digital reconstruction of the interior
of the two-story version White Temple, Uruk (modern Warka), c, 3517 - 3358 BCE.
Types of Sumerian Temples:
● High Ziggurat
● Consisting of three parts
Excavation of the Ancient City of Uruk (1920s)
● British archaeologist Charles Leonard Woolley excavated in the 1920s and 1930s, the
city was a tell, a great artificial hill over seven meters (23 feet) high composed of
centuries of building and rebuilding mud brick structures, one stacked on top of another.
Puabi’s Grave site
Epic of Gilgamesh
The Great Lyre with Bull’s Head. Puabi’s Tomb, UR(Uruk). C.
● When Woolley and his men found the Great Lyre in PG789, the wood of its sound box
had completely disintegrated, leaving only an impression in the soil. Woolley carefully
recorded the size and shape of all the parts of the instrument. The bull’s head and front
plaque were conserved at the British Museum and then mounted on a new sound box
constructed here at the Penn Museum upon its arrival in Philadelphia in 1929. ● The imagery used in the lyre represent significant parts of Early Mesopotamian funerary
rituals.The bearded bull on the front represents the sun god Shamash, depicted in
cuneiform texts as the golden bull with lapis lazuli beard. Shamash is the divine judge
who shines light on all things.Only Shamash can descend into the underworld and
emerge again at sunrise.
● Taken as a whole, the lyre imagery shows the human cycle of the kings’ control over
nature, the funerary ritual and entry into the underworld. All of this is presided over by
the god of judgment and destiny, the sun god Shamash.
● Preventing Evil
● A device used in spatial definition
Art of Akkad
● 2350 BCE - Sumerian City States began fighting over access to water and fertile land.
● Semitic people from the north began taking control of the south.
○ Sargon 2334 BCE (conquers Sumer and Elam)
○ Naram-Sin 2254 - 2218 BCE
○ Idea of Kingship coming in through this
Mesopotamia ca. 2500 BCE
Head of a Man/Akkadian Ruler. From Nineveh. c. 2300 - 2200 BCE. Iraq Museum, Baghdad.
● Page 36
● Life-sized bronze head.
● Found in the Northern city of Nineveh (present-day Ninua, Iraq) and thought to date from
the time of Sargon.
● It is the earliest known work of hollow-cast sculpture using the lost-wax casting process.
● The facial features and hairstyle may reflect a generalized ideal more than the unique
likeness of a specific individual, although the sculpture was once identified as Sargon
● The enormous curling beard and elaborately braided hair indicate both royalty and ideal
● The deliberate damage to the left side of the face and eye suggests that the head was