June 27
Art of the Ancient Near East



Characteristics of Mesopotamian Art:

Statues from the Abu Temple, Tell Asmar, Iraq. c. 2700 - 2500 B.C.
Limestone, alabaster, and gypsum, height of tallest figure approx. 30".

Figures with prominent eyes
Stylized arched eyebrows
Cylindrical form










Ram and Tree. Offering stand from Ur. c. 2600 B.C. Wood, gold, and lapis lazuli, height 20".


aditive sculpting process = the sculpted object is built up from the material rather than carved away











Bull headed lyre from the tomb of Puabi, Royal Cemetery, Ur, c. 2600 BCE
Gold leaf and lapis lazuli over a wooden core, approx. 5' 5" high.
Image: Richard G. Tansey and Fred S. Kleiner, Gardner's Art Through the Ages. (Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace College Publishers, 1996) Tenth ed., 48.











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











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



"With the invention of writing we are no longer only dealing with speculation as we did with prehistoric art, and we can begin to study the iconography (the narrative and allegorical meaning) of images." (Stokstad 34)












The Royal Standard of Ur. c. 2700 BCE. Wood inlaid with shell, limestone, and lapis lazuli, height 8".









hieratic scale = the use of different sizes for significant or holy figures and those of the everyday world to indicate importance. The larger the figure, the greater the importance.


The Standard of Ur. Front and back sides. c. 2600 B.C.
Wood inlaid with shell, limestone, and lapis lazuli, height 8".










The Standard of Ur detail



















Akkad c. 2340 – 2180 BCE

Akkadians assimilated into Sumerian culture and conquered most of Mesopotamia under the rule of Sargon I


Head of an Akkadian Ruler, from Nineveh (Kuyunjik), Iraq. c. 2300 – 2200 B.C. Bronze, height 12".



Lost Wax Casting











Victory Stele of Narim Sin

Victory Stele of Naram-Sin. c. 2200 – 2184 BCE Stone, height 6' 6".


Sargon I's grandson, Narim - Sin commemorates an actual military victory











Neo - Sumerian Culture 2100 - 1800 BCE
About 2180 BCE, the Guti conquered the Akkadian Empire
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 (Telloh), Iraq. c. 2090 BCE, height 29". Diorite.











Babylon 1900 - 539 BCE
The Amorites reunited Mesopotamia under the rule of Hammurabi in 1792 BCE
Hammurabi's capital city was Babylon










Artist's reconstruction of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon











Law Code of Hammurabi. c. 1760 BCE, height of stele approx, 7'. Diorite

Upper part of stele inscribed with the Law Code of Hammurabi.
c. 1760 BCE, height of relief 28".











Assyria 1300 - 612 BCE

"After centuries of struggle among Sumer, Akkad and Lagash, in southern Mesopotamia,
a people called the Assyrians rose to dominance in northern Mesopotamia." (Stokstad 40)


Fugitives Crossing River, from the Northwest Palace of Ashurnasirpal II, Nimrud (Calab), Iraq.
c. 883 – 859 B.C. Alabaster relief, height 39".











Reconstruction drawing of the citadel of Sargon II, Khorsbad, c. 720 BCE











Gate of the Citadel of Sargon II, Dur Sharrukin (Khorsabad), Iraq. 742 – 706 B.C.










Ashurnasirpal II Killing Lions, from the Palace of Ashurnasirpal II, Nimrud (Calab), Iraq. c. 850 B.C. Limestone, 3' 3" X 8' 4".











"At the end of the seventh century BCE, the Medes, a people from western Iran,
allied with the Babylonians and the Scythians, a nomadic people from northern Asia, invaded Assyria." (Stokstad 42)
The most famous ruler was Nebuchadnezzar II (ruled 605 - 562 BCE)











Ishtar Gate, from Babylon, Iraq. c. 575 BCE. Glazed brick.











Ishtar Gate detail










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


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