Ch2Ancient Near East

Report
(Turkey, Iran, Iraq)
3,5oo B.C.E.-331 B.C.E.
 1st
MONOTHEISM
 1st
organized religion
 1st
written language CUNEIFORM

1st epic poem, Gilgamesh
 1st
codes of law: Hammurabi
 1st use of Bronze
 1st Cities
 1st Wheel
 1st potter’s wheel
c. 8,000 B.C.E.
one of the
oldest fortified sites
Included a tower
& walls
Dwellings -shelter for the
living and housed the dead.
Corpses buried under the
floors showed a concern for
protecting ancestors.
c. 7,000 B.C.E.
skull was used as an
armature on which to
rebuild the face with
clayto preserve the memory
of the deceased?
c. 6,000 B.C.E., Turkey
Largest Neolithic settlement
c. 6,000 B.C.E., Turkey
Agriculture & trade well
established
•Mud brick houses connected by
rooftops no streets
•Ladders to ground level (for defense?)
•Built in benches – seats or beds…
It was the largest and oldest planned town
Skeletons buried under seats or
floors. Dead were decorated with
pigment and jewelry and weapons
were placed with them
(indication of a belief in afterlife?)
Are the initials of each
(historic) civilization in
chronological order.
Sumerian
c. 3500 B.C.E.
Akkadian c. 2100B.C.E.
Babylonian
Hittite
539 B.C.E.
c. 1600-1200 B.C.E.
Assyrian
Persian
c.1792-
c.1000-612 B.C.E.
c. 559-331 B.C.E.
“between rivers” Fertile
 Tigris
and Euphrates
fertile area, but not always
 Dependable, but needed
irrigation

Biblical Garden of Eden?
Crescent
Large populations grew
 Biggest difference between
prehistoric world and the
Ancient Near East is the

new need to urbanize
buildings
needed for
living, governing
& worship
was great for farming
But unlike Egypt which was
bordered by deserts and the
Mediterranean- Mesopotamia
had no such natural defenses
to protect it.
As a result it
was easy to
conquer & hard to hold
on to. It was an irresistible
oasis for outsiders…


Egypt was stable and so was
its art. It hardly changed in
3,000 years.
Mesopotamia’s art changed
almost as much as its rulerseach conqueror brought new
influences.
3500 B.C.E.
cluster of city-states
Linked by culture, religion,
language: CUNEIFORM
st
(1
.
written Language)
CUNEIFORM
1st written
Language
.
Sumer
 Religion:
human race
created out of clay for
sole purpose of
serving the gods.
Sumer
 Death: spirits ferried across river to a
gloomy existence below the
earth. Afterlife is no fun…

This explains the many inscriptions on
tablets, in temples, and on sculptures
asking gods for a long life.
Mother Goddess was the
most important deity
Sumerians were very devout
For DEVOTION to the gods…
It housed a smaller temple at the top.
Mountain-like Ziggurats dominated the flat
landscape.
Man made symbolic mountains
Sumerians and Babylonians built
Ziggurats to put them in touch
with the gods,
not to elevate their personal egos.
(…unlike Egypt and later
Near East civilizations…)
Only priests were allowed to
use the steps to the temple
dedicated to
Anu, the
sky god.
3,000 B.C.E.
3,000 B.C.E.
white paint
on its outer
walls



Most Sumerian architecture has
disappeared
No access to limestone and wood
was scarce, so ziggurats were made
of mud brick.
It was a cheap material and had to
be protected from erosion
Most mud brick was either
painted or faced with tile or stone
 Through the epic Gilgamesh, we
have a written description of the
glittering beauty of a Sumerian
temple.

3 stairways- each 100 steps
 many
gods
 Each city had a local god
who acted as a spokesman
in the assembly of gods (like
a U.S. senator)
Gods lived in the heavens, but
also in their sculptures.
 Part of a person also lived in their
self sculptures. Therefore, putting

these sculptures together- you
could commune with the gods
personally.
 Abu
Temple statuettes (tallest is 30”)
are examples
 Notice the dress
and STYLIZED hair
and beards
Sumerian
 large
eyes because their eyes
popped when they saw a god.


Being “bug-eyed” meant you were
devout.
awestruck in the presence of god,
can’t take your eyes of him.
•beard
indicates
wisdom
•Symmetry
•Hands in
prayer
Sumerian
Figures are
either hunting,
praying, or
performing a
ritual.
 upturned face

Rippled beard usually
painted black (stylized)
Female clothing drapes 1
shoulder
Important figures are larger and
most centrally placed
Lyre, c. 2600 B.C.E.
Worldly goods
found at Burial sites
bodies of those
ritualistically killed
to provide
companions for the
royal family in the
afterlife.
Lyre, c. 2600 B.C.E.
Stylized human
beard of
lapis lazuli- a
semi-precious blue
stone
 starts
ancient tradition of
combining animals with human
characteristics and emotions.
Twisted
proportion…
Gudea, c. 2100
B.C.E.
Stylized
calm, peaceful
DIORITE,
expensive stone- shows
off wealth of the owner
& importance of the
subject
Gudea
In prayer with an
architectural drawing
for a temple on his lap.
He thought of himself
as a patron
of
temples.
c.
2600 B.C.E.
historical narrative.
frontal /profile.
Emphasized eyes, eyebrows, and ears.
2100 B.C.E.
 Akkadians
take over and
assimilated much of Sumerian culture.

Akkadian & Sumerian gods
merged

Akkadian rulers elevated
themselves to divine status.
 Sargon
I
regal determination.

Most metal sculpture is
lost after defeat it is
melted down to be used
for other purposes.
 Big
change from Sumerian
art is the deification of
the king
Victory Stele of Naram-Sin c.2230 B.C.E.
A stele is a
commemorative
stone marker
Victory Stele of Naram-Sin
 Naram-Sin
grandson of Sargon
 6’6” tall
very
masculine culture
 Naram -Sin 1st ruler
to make himself a god
He’s climbing toward
heaven (stars above).
Victory blessed by gods
Wears horned crown of divinity
Defeated soldiers
beg for mercy
Hierarchy of scale
Depicts a victory
over Lullibi- to be
seen forever.
 It is “carved in stone”
 He has “made a
mark”
1790-540 B.C.E.

The capital city beautifully decorated“hanging gardens” and walls of
glazed tile.
 Stele

of Hammurabi c. 1780 B.C.E.
well ordered state with strict
laws handed down from the
set of
sun god Shamash.
Stele of Hammurabi C. 1780 B.C.E.
7’
The relief
section at
the top is
28”
Stele of Hammurabi
•1st code of law ever
written
•300 laws
•They stare at one
another directly even
though their shoulders
are frontal
 “an eye for an eye”- death
for a builder who builds a house
that collapses and kills the
owner.
If a surgical patient dies, the hand
of the doctor is cut off.
The guilt or innocence of an
adulteress is determined on whether
she sank or floated when thrown in
the water.
Ishtar Gate
C.575 B.C.E.
575 B.C.E.
C.
named in
honor of the
Akkadian
goddess of
love,
fertility, and
war
575 B.C.E.
C.
Glazed brick
covers mud walls
Animals guard
entrance to the city
Lions sacred to
the goddess Ishtar
Crenellations
give warlike
appearance
1600-1200B.C.E.
Turkey
Turkey



kept records in cuneiform on clay
tablets stored in an orderly way.
cremated their dead (not much tomb art)
They had monumental palaces,
temples, and cities- and massive
fortified walls decorated with relief
sculpture.
Turkey



CITADEL were elevated fortified cities.
This shows their power and their need
for protection.
Lions are guardians of the entrance
because of the ancient belief that lions
never sleep.
Turkey

used stone rather than mud brick

Large uncut boulders- impressive
fortifications.
Lion Gate
c. 1400 B.C.E.
Turkey
Gates to the city
Guardian lions
Huge boulders used in
the construction of the
city
Gives a massive
impression
6’6” Hittite war god
 1000-612 B.C.E.

Rulers intended to
conquer the world.

But they established libraries, -thousands
of tablets recording scientific,
historical,
literary, and religious, and
commercial achievements
A
masculine society- Figures
are stoic
 Animals

showed emotion
Man’s domination over the wild
beast= symbolic of king’s authority
over his people and nature.


Assyria=formidable
military force
. He made boastful
claims detailing his
cruelty.

He intended to
conquer the
world.
 Assurnasirpal’s
cruelty- “…he
dyed the mountains red like wool
cloth, with the blood of his
slaughtered enemies”,
“from the heads of his decapitated
enemies he erected a pillar, and he
covered the city walls with their
skins”.

Lions popular- king’s dominance over
lions= metaphor for the subjugation of
his enemies
 Architecture
was designed
to intimidate visitors

Extreme detail and musculature
 Lamassu =bull or lion with wings
and a human head
a guardian
designed to
intimidate.
720 B.C.E.
He has 5 legs to give
the illusion of
movement
One of the oldest surviving narratives
Emotions in animals, not in humans.
Lion Hunt
C. 640 B.C.E.
Palace of Sargon C. 710 B.C.E.
City 50 feet high
Mud brick
Contains ziggurat
Huge complex,
200 rooms
Assyrian
WARLIKE
560-530 B.C.E.
 Cyrus
the Great founded the
Persian Achaemenid dynasty.

mostly influenced by
Assyrians
were no Persian temples
since religious ceremonies were
held outside.
 There
motif of lion attacking bull
=characteristic of Persian art
Persia
was the largest
empire so far.
first
great empire in
history.

Monumental architecture- audience
halls, huge buildings for grand
ceremonies that glorified the empire
and the rulers.

Columns
topped with 2
bull shaped
capitals holding
up a wooden
roof
Palace at Persepolis
Built for
spectacular
receptions and
festivals.
Mud brick with
stone facing
Giant Lamassu
gates

Palace at Persepolis
c. 500 B.C.E.
Iran
Built by
Darius I &
Xerxes I
 destroyed
by
Alexander
the Great.
Audience Hall=
Palace at Persepolis
Apadana had 36
columns covered by a
wooden roof.
It held thousands of
people.
It was used for the
king’s receptions.
Palace at Persepolis
Reliefs lining the
walls and staircases
were originally painted.
Palace at Persepolis
In contrast to the
aggressive military
scenes of Assyrian
reliefs, Persian reliefs
are more solemn.
Politically Persia
was less cruel and
more tolerant.
Figures were
shown in full
profile and
not
twisted
like
previous
cultures
 Is
a work of art’s place of origin.
Pieces are plundered from archeological
sites and appear on the market without
any record of where they came from.
This creates a problem for art historians.
They want to know if it was found in a
home, a palace, or a temple and what its
purpose was…

birth of world civilizations.

Art serves religion and state


Ruler’s image could be permanently
emblazoned on a stele to celebrated their
achievements for posterity.
Writing combined with image =historical and
artistic record of human achievement.
Common characteristics of Near East art:
 Union
of human and animal elements
 Hierarchical scale
 Deification of rulers (ruler is divine)
 Mud Brick faced with stone or tile or painted.
 Entrance ways to cities or palaces were
importantGuardian figures to protect or ward off evil

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