Ancient Mesopotamia
Exam 1 will open on Blackboard September 23, and must be submitted by 11:59 PM on September 26
  • Worth a maximum of 50 points
  • Will be comprised of image identification, multiple choice, fill in the blank, matching, and short answer essay questions

**Students with testing accommodations, please confirm with me that testing parameters are suitable

Exam 1 Study Guide
Figurine of the Goddess Wadjet, Egypt, 26th Dynasty (circa 664 - 525 BCE). Bronze, 13 inches.











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".











Three gold libation cups from Ur











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










A royal tombs at Ur, excavated by Sir Leonard Woolley
Death Pit at Ur










Standard of Ur., from Royal Cemetery, Ur, Iraq, ca. 2600 - 2400 BCE.
Wood inlaid with shell, limestone, and lapis lazuli, height 8".











Standard of Ur
Ancient pictorial conventions:
  • Pictorial field divided into registers
  • Figures placed on common ground line
  • Use of hierarchy of scale = significant or holy figures depicted larger than people of the everyday world to indicate importance. The larger the figure, the greater the importance.
  • Narrative reads from left to right
Standard of Ur, from Royal Cemetery, Ur, Iraq, ca. 2600 - 2400 BCE. Wood inlaid with shell, limestone, and lapis lazuli.











Standard of Ur inlay detail

The Standard of Ur detail











Standard of Ur, front and back sides

The Standard of Ur from Royal Cemetery, Ur, Iraq, ca. 2600 - 2400 BCE.
Front "War" side (top), back "Peace" side (beow). Wood inlaid with shell, limestone, and lapis lazuli, height 8".











Ram and Tree
"Royal" Cemetery of Ur
  • Sixteen vaulted, underground chambers
  • Over 1000 other modest burials
  • Debate whether deceased were of ruling class, or just wealthy aristocrats
additive sculpting process = the sculpted object is built up from the material rather than carved away

ram sacred to Tammuz = the male principle in nature

animism = belief that all natural phenomena have souls independent of their physical being
Ram and Tree votive offering from Ur. ca. 2600 BCE. Wood, gold, and lapis lazuli, height 20".











Bull-headed Lyre from Ur

Bull headed lyre from the tomb of Puabi (7:25), Royal Cemetery, Ur, ca. 2600 - 2400 BCE.
Gold leaf and lapis lazuli over a wooden core, approx. 5' 5" high.











Bull head from Lyre from Ur

Bull headed lyre from the tomb of Puabi, Royal Cemetery, Ur.
ca. 2600 - 2400 BCE. Gold leaf and lapis lazuli over a wooden core.












Inlay panel from the soundbox of a lyre, from Ur

Inlay panel from the soundbox of a lyre, from Ur.
ca. 2600 - 2400 BCE. Shell and bitumen, 12 ¼ X 4 ½ ".











ancient Mesopotamian city-states











Head of an Akkadian Ruler
c. 2340 – 2180 BCE
  • Akkadians assimilated into Sumerian culture and conquered most of Mesopotamia under the rule of Sargon I
  • Akkadians introduce novel concept of royal power to Mesopotamia
    • Based on unwavering loyalty to king rather than the city-state
    • Art now glorifies the monarch
    • And subjects focus on violence instead of prayer
  • Accordingly, Akkadian art is more realistic than Sumerian
oldest known life-size hollow-cast, or lost-wax casting
Head of an Akkadian Ruler, from Nineveh (modern Kuyunjik), Iraq. ca. 2250 – 2200 BCE.
Bronze, height 12".










lost-wax casting











Victory Stele of Narim Sin

Victory stele of Naram-Sin, Susa, Iran, 2254 – 2218 BCE. Stone, height 6' 6".


Sargon I's grandson, Narim - Sin commemorates an actual military victory over the Lullibi
under the watchful celestial bodies of Ishtar and Shamash











votive statue of Gudea
Neo - Sumerian Culture
2100 - 1800 BCE
About 2180 BCE, the Guti conquered Akkadian Empire

The reasons for the fall of the Akkadian Empire are unclear, but recent excavations suggest that a severe drought that lasted about 300 years may have taxed their resources

After a short time, the Sumerians regained control of the region
However, the city-state of Lagash remained under Guti control
Votive Statue of Gudea, from Lagash (modern Telloh), Iraq, ca. 2100 BCE. Calcite, 29" high.











artist's rendition of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon
1792 - 539 BCE
The Semitic-speaking Amorites reunited Mesopotamia under the rule of Ammurapi (better known by Akkadian name, Hammurabi) in 1792 BCE
Hammurabi's capital city was Babylon
Artist's reconstruction of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon












The god, Shamash is conceived in human form,
sitting on a stylized mountain as Hammurabi receives his wisdom.

Law Code of Hammurabi, Susa, Iran,
c. 1780 BCE. Basalt, 7' 4" high.

Upper part of stele inscribed with the Law Code of Hammurabi.
c. 1780 BCE, height of relief 28".











The Code of Hammurabi
  • Laws had become cloudy and conflicting after multiple divisions of Mesopotamia
  • Hammurabi sought to establish justice and order
    • One of the earliest known codes of law
    • Surprisingly humane and rational
Inscription begins: “Anu and Bel called by name me, Hammurabi, exalted prince, who feared God, to bring about rule of righteousness in the land, to destroy the wicked and the evil-doers, so that the strong should not harm the weak, so that I should rule and enlighten the land, to further the well-being of mankind.”
  • Lists 282 regulations
    • Deals with everything from property issues to domestic problems
    • "An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” comes from this code

Upper part of stele inscribed with the Law Code of Hammurabi, ca. 1780 BCE, height of relief 28".










Ashurnasirpal II Killing Lions
1300 - 612 BCE
After centuries of struggle among Sumer, Akkad, and Lagash, the Assyrians vanquished the various warfaring peoples that succeeded the Babylonians and Hitites, including the Elamites, whose capital of Susa they sacked in 641 BCE.
Ashurnasirpal II Killing Lions, from the Palace of Ashurnasirpal II, Nimrud (Calab), Iraq. c. 850 B.C. Limestone, 3' 3" X 8' 4".











Citadel of Sargon II

Artist's rendition of the citadel of Sargon II, Dur Sharrukin, ca. 720 - 750 BCE.











Gate of the Citadel of Sargon II

Gate of the Citadel of Sargon II, Dur Sharrukin (modern Khorsabad), Iraq, ca. 720 – 705 BCE.











Ishtar Gate dragon

626 - 539 BCE

  • The Assyrian Empire was never very secure, and fell after allied attacks by the Medes and Babylonians.
  • Neo-Babylonian kings ruled over the former Assyrian Empire until the Persian conquest.
  • The most well known Neo-Babylonian ruler was Nebuchadnezzar II (ruled 605 - 562 BCE)
Ishtar Gate dragon, ca. 575 BCE.











Ishtar Gate

Ishtar Gate (restored), from Babylon, Iraq, ca. 575 BCE. Glazed brick.











Ishtar Gate animal

Ishtar Gate detail










In the sixth century BCE, the Persians began seizing power in Mesopotamia.


processional frieze from the palace of Ashurnasirpal II

Processional frieze on the east side of the terrace of the apadana of the palace,
Persepolis, Iran, c. 521 - 465 BCE. Limestone, 8' 4" high.











belt fragment from the Ziwiye Hoard

Fragment of a belt, probably from the Ziwiye Hoard, Iran, 7th century B.C. Gold sheet, width 6 ½".