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Mesopotamian Synopsis:

The "Fertile Crescent" region of the ancient Near East developed into more organized city-states around 3500 BCE, with Sumer being the most powerful area. The Sumerians developed the first form of cuneiform script between 3300 and 3000 BCE. The most commonly used architectural structure was the ziggurat, a "stepped pyramidal structure with a temple or shrine on top" (Stokstad, 47). These structures, built for the city's rulers and gods, were sometimes grouped into temple complexes, which formed the city center. Interior walls were often decorated with cone mosaics, while exterior walls were covered with paint and patterns of bricks. The most highly developed form of the ziggurat can be seen at the Nanna Ziggurat, Ur, c. 2100-2050 BCE.

Sculpture was mainly created for religious purposes, such as votive statues which were placed in temples as symbols of the patron's devotion. Their simplified, abstract style focuses mainly on the large eyes, to facilitate communication with the gods. Rulers such as Sargon I and his grandson, Naramsin, used sculpture to commemorate battles. The Stela of Naramsin, c. 2254-2218 BCE portrays the importance and physical ability of the young ruler through the use of the hieratic scale. The Stela of Hammurabi, c. 1792-1750 BCE portrays the leader before the sun god Shamash, supreme judge, and lists the newly developed legal code in cuneiform script below.

The Assyrians, who dominated the region around 1400 BCE, built large, fortified cities and palaces to protect from invasion, that were richly decoarated. The most famous of thse palaces are those of Sargon II, with its rich throne room, and Assurbanipal, with its decorative alabaster panels. Mesopotamia was finally absorbed by the Persian Empire under Cyrus II (ruled 559-530 BCE), which eventually stretched from India to Egypt. - (source: http://www2.students.sbc.edu/hill00/seniorseminar/summary2b.html )

Ancient Near Eastern Art


Sumerian Period 3,000 - 2,300 BCE
Akkadian Dynasty 2,300 - 2,150 BCE
Neo-Sumerian 2,150 - 1,800 BCE
Babylonian Period 1,830 - 539 BCE
Assyrian Empire 900 - 612 BCE
Neo-Babylonia 612-538 BCE
Achaemenid Persian Empire 538 - 330 BCE



TERMS

Mesopotamia - (land between the rivers, Tigris & Euphrates)
Euphrates
Cuneiform - (wedge-shaped)
Cella - a special area set apart for a shrine
Registers - vertical divisions of a commorative panel (when lines of figures were longer than surfaces of sculptures, the figures were spread over several "registers" or parallel ground lines. [M-34]).
Stele (steel-e) - carved stone slab or pillar
Gilgamesh - mythical Mesopotamian hero
Law Code of Hammurabi
Tigris
City-state
Ziggurat - stepped earthen pyramidical platform
Inanna -
Ground line
Foreshortening
Citadel - walled fortress
Lamassu - winged statues of bulls with human heads
Kudurru - clay tablets or stone boundary stelae impressed with human laws and decrees (M-34)


SLIDES

Sumerian 3,000 - 2,300 BCE

 

Akkadian 2,300 - 2,150 BCE ~ rule of Sargon


Neo-Sumerian 2,150- 1,800 BCE

 


Babylonian Period 1,830 - 539 BCE

Assyrian 900 - 612 BCE

 

Achaemenid Persian 538 -330 BCE



DJB Quick Notes:

Mesopotamian (as a whole):

~ development of city-states
~ prehistory into history with development of writing
~ common in Mesopotamian art: union of "formal" and "natural” (G)

Sumerian Period (3000-2300 BCE)

~ each city state has its own local god with religious site central part of city (centralized temples and citadels)
~ temple atop of ziggurat (closer to heaven)
~ White Temple (3000-2000 BCE) dedicated to god Anu, oriented to cardinal points, ziggurat of White Temple 140' high

Akkadian Period (2300 - 2150 BCE)

~ Head of Akkadian Ruler - texture, eyes, metal (copper)
~ statuettes - scale, profile, landscape, ruler headresses adornment
~ Victory Stele of Naram Sim

Neo-Sumerian (2150 - 1800 BCE)

~ reconstructed ziggurat
~ Gudea, ruler - seated statue with diagram of temple in lap - head (body missing), diorite

Babylonian (1830 - 539 BCE)

Assyrian (900 - 612 BCE)

~ citadel of Sargon II

Neo-Babylonia 612-538 BCE

~ Nebuchadnezzar - Ishtar Gate

~ the history of Assyrian art is mainly the history of relief carving; very little sculpture in the round survives.

Achaemenid Persian Empire (538 - 330 BCE)

~ Darius - Persopolis
~
"Apadana" - royal audience hall (G)
~ eclectic art style of Arcaemenidians, assimilating aspects of Mesopotamians and Greeks, to create a Mesopotamian tradition with Greek influence

~ Use of the column:
(1) Not used structurally in the Near East before the Persian Empire.
(2) Resulted from contact with Egypt, Crete, and Greece
(3) Unique forms developed by the Persians.
(M-33)

~ fluting of columns derived from Greek Ionian (G)

 

DJB In-Depth Notes:

 

Links

http://www2.students.sbc.edu/hill00/seniorseminar/summary2.html


The "Fertile Crescent” region of the ancient Near East developed into more organized city-states around 3500 BCE, with Sumer being the most powerful area. The Sumerians developed the first form of cuneiform script between 3300 and 3000 BCE. The most commonly used architectural structure was the ziggurat, a "stepped pyramidal structure with a temple or shrine on top” (Stokstad, 47). These structures, built for the city's rulers and gods, were sometimes grouped into temple complexes, which formed the city center.