Ancient Mesopotamia
Assignment 1 now due on Blackboard
Attendants wreath, from the tomb of Queen Puabi, Royal Cemetery, Ur. c. 2600–2500 B.C. BCE. Gold, lapis lazuli, carnelian.











Mesopotamia = Greek for "land between the rivers"
cities of the ancient Near East
early Mesopotamian city-states
Cities of the Ancient Near East 7000 - 3000 BCE
Early Mesopotamian City-States











6500 - 4100 BCE
Uruk (Warka)
4100 - 2900 BCE


3000 - 2300 BCE
Early Dynastic Period
2900 - 2334 BCE


2800 - 2600 BCE


c. 2340 - 2180 BCE
c. 2218 - 2047 BCE
c. 2150 - 1960 BCE
Lagash (Gudea)
3rd millenia BCE
c. 1792 - 1750 BCE
c. 1350 - 6112 BCE
538 - 330 BCE












c. 3500 - 2030 BCE


artist's rendition of the ancient city of Ur

Artist's rendition of ancient city or Ur











Babylonian deed of sale
Sumerians credited with:
  • Developing the first known system of writing
    • Civilizations of Mesopotamia shared common language
    • Wedge-shaped cuneiform writing system primarily used for record keeping
  • Producing significant body of literature
  • Invention of the plow, wheel, mathematics, and law
  • Establishing the first formal system of religion whereby traditional religious devices such as prayer, sacrifice, and the view that humans are imperfect and therefore dependent on the powers of higher beings were developed
Babylonian deed of sale, ca. 1750 BCE.












theocratic socialism = a planned society administered from a central location (or temple)
Worshipped pantheon of nature gods
(more than 3,000 identified):

Anu - the sky god and head of pantheon

Ishtar - the queen of heaven and wife of Anu

Abu - god of vegetation

Enki - god of wisdom

Enlil - "lord of breath"

Indugud - storm god

Shamash - sun god

Inanna or Ishtar, Sumerian, Iraq, c. 2,000 BCE.











Ziggurat of Ur
Artist's rendion of Ziggurat of Ur
Nanna Ziggurat or Ziggurat of King Urnammu, Ur (El Muqeiyar), Iraq. ca. 2100 BCE.











artist's rendition of White Temple and ziggurat
The ziggurat was the nucleus of the Sumerian city-state
  • Bent axis approach
    • Extends journey to temple
  • Symbolizing the sacred mountain
  • Bridge between heaven and earth
    • Sumerians referred to ziggurats as “waiting rooms,” where the priest waited for the god to commune
White Temple and ziggurat
White Temple and ziggurat, Uruk (modern day Warka), Iraq. ca. 3200 - 3000 BCE.











female head from Uruk

Female Head, from Uruk (Warka). ca. 3200 - 3000 BCE. Limestone, height 8".











statues from the Abu Temple

Statues from the Abu Temple, Tell Asmar, Iraq. ca. 2700 BCE.
Limestone, alabaster, and gypsum, height of tallest figure approx. 30".










Figural Characteristics of Mesopotamian Art:

  • Cylindrical form
  • Prominent eyes
  • Stylized arched eyebrows
  • Male forms wear belts and fringed skirts
    • Males generally wear beards and shoulder-length hair
  • Women generally wear robes with right shoulder bear
Statues from the Abu Temple, Tell Asmar, Iraq. ca. 2700 BCE. Limestone, alabaster, and gypsum, height of tallest figure approx. 30".









Vessel from Ur, Mesopotamia, Southern Iraq, 2.600-2.400 BCE. Gold.
Gold cup from Ur, Mesopotamia, southern Iraq, 2.600-2.400 BCE. Found on the floor of the pit of the Queen's grave alongside the sacrificial victims.











Royal Cemetery at Ur in the 1930s
War Helmet worn by the King of Kish c. 2450 BCE











Royal tomb at Ur, excavated by Sir Leonard Woolley in 1928
Death Pit at Ur













Headdress of Queen Puabi, Iraq, c. 2600 - 2400 BCE.