ART 101 Chapter Notes - Chapter 2: Sargon I, Raging River, Uniform Act

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17 Sep 2016
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MESOPOTAMIA: ANCIENT NEAR EASTERN ART
Mesopotamia
- Between the Euphrates and Tigris river
- Rise of agriculture
- No mountains meaning no natural fortification which allowed a lot of waring in
mesopotamia
Sumerian Art
Sumer: cities and city-states along the rivers of southern Mesopotamia that developed between
3500 and 2340 BCE
Sumerians: a people credited with many important “firsts”
- Invented irrigation and the wheel
- Religion based on placating the nature deities because nature and weather were so
hostile and unpredictable
Cuneiform: first form of writing. a pictorial script, invented around 3100 BCE, a form of writing by
pressing wedge shaped symbols into clay tablets with a stylus to keep business records
- Compared to prehistoric cave paintings, cuneiform is organized and orderly
Ziggurat: a man made mountain made of mudbrick with projections, depressions, weeper holes
and sloping slides to push water away
- Processional staircase to a visitor has to approach on his hands and knees
- It has a cella: a large space of temple that is centrally located
- It is a huge stepped structures with a temple or shrine on top, proclaiming wealth,
prestige and stability of a city’s rulers and glorified its gods
- Functioned symbolically as a bridge between the earth and the heavens - a meeting
place for humans and their gods
Theocratic Socialism: the Pope is also the head of the government
Uruk (present day Warka, Iraq): first independent Sumerian city-state with a population of
40,000 people and with two large temple complexes at the center, 1 dedicated to Inanna the
goddess of love and war and 2 dedicated to Anu, the sky god.
- City was rebuilt many times out of mud brick
- The builders used a foundation cone telling visitors who built it, a prayer, the cost, and
commends the builder
- Biblical city of Iraq
- First evidence of cities and urban planning
- Place of commerce
Nanna: the god of the moon and fertility, also referred to as Sin
Tigris & Euphrates Rivers: Mesopotamia is between these two rivers. Location is everything.
- The rivers would overflow the banks and make the land continuously fertile which led to
the rise of agriculture
Ur: Sumerians regained control of most of Mesopotamia from the Guti under the leader King
Urnammu of Ur. He reintroduced the Sumerian language and sponsored building campaigns,
including the ziggurat dedicated to Nanna
Anu Ziggurat & White Temple (Uruk, 3000 BCE)
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- A white washed brick temple erected on top of the ziggurat platform of Anu
- A simple rectangle with an off-center doorway that led into large chamber containing an
altar, and smaller spaces opened on each side
- Processional staircase
- Cella
- Whitewash brick is not a durable building material and the temple is now in ruins
Nanna Ziggurat (Ur, 2100 BCE)
Purpose: More sturdy and solid than the white temple
- Central staircase, much more formal and symmetrical
- Greater emphasis on height and symmetry, it was 90 feet tall.
- Has depressions and recessions
- Sturdy and solid
- Made of kiln dried mud brick which is more durable than the whitewash mud brick the
white temple was made of
- 90 feet tall: elevating the temple to the heavens
- It has a bent-axis
Carved Alabaster Vase (Uruk, 3000 BCE, 36 in)
Purpose: largest piece of prehistoric art. It was used for libations = liquid offerings of a mix of
sheep's milk with honey
- Found in the temple complex of Inanna at Uruk
- Alabaster is from Egypt, so this vase attests to trade
- 3 registers (horizontal bands) that condense a story into its essential elements
- At the very bottom of the vase are wavy lines that represent water
- The bottom register shows the source of life in the natural world
- The middle register shows men carry different types of harvest and walking
- The top register shows the god Inanna receiving the offerings
-Hieratic scale: Inanna is depicted exaggeratingly larger than the other figures to show
her importance
- The vase tells a story but also shows movement
- It shows the sacrifices made to gods and theocratic socialism
- The images are more organized than cave paintings and sit on a groundline and dont
overlap one another like cave paintings did
Face of a Woman/ Warka Head (Uruk, 3000 BCE, 8 in)
Purpose: first life size head sculpture
- Originally attached to a wooden body (because stone was too expensive)
- Inlaid eyebrows made of bitumen
- Lapiz lazuli eyes
- Attentive when facing the gods
- Originally had gold hair and a headdress
Votive Statues from the Square Abu Temple (Diyala Valley, Eshnunna, 2600 BCE)
- Limestone statues
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