Animal Style
 

Animal Style = a term used to describe a “zoomorphic,” or animal-based, design found from China to Northern Europe during the early Iron Age, the Migration Period, and popular among Anglo-Saxon artisans during the medieval period. In the animal style, abstract animal motifs merge with geometric and organic designs, creating a lively and intricate pattern, especially in metalwork. Animals often confront each other, suggesting human mastery over the natural world.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Royal" Cemetery of Ur
  • Sixteen vaulted, underground chambers
  • Over 1000 other modest burials
  • Debate whether deceased were of ruling class, or just wealthy aristocrats
 
animism = belief that all natural phenomena have souls independent of their physical being
 
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

 
Ram and Tree votive offering from Ur. ca. 2600 BCE. Wood, gold, and lapis lazuli, height 20".

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Standard of Ur., from Royal Cemetery, Ur, Iraq, c. 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, c. 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".

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bull-headed Lyre from Ur

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bull head from Lyre from Ur
Bull headed lyre from the tomb of Puabi, Royal Cemetery, Ur. c. 2600 - 2400 BCE. Gold leaf and lapis lazuli over a wooden core. Pennsylvania State University.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ancient Mesopotamian city-states

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Head of an Akkadian Ruler
Akkad
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
 
 
Head of an Akkadian Ruler, from Nineveh (modern Kuyunjik), Iraq. c. 2250 – 2200 BCE.
Bronze, height 12".

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

oldest known life-size hollow-cast, or lost-wax casting
Head of an Akkadian Ruler, from Nineveh (modern Kuyunjik), Iraq. c. 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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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
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
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Babylonian Cuneiform geometry tablet, Pythagoras Theorem 1750 BC ancient replica

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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
Assyria
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

Neo-Babylonia
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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plaques from the Ziwiye hoard, Iran, c. 8th–7th century B.C.