Transcript near_east

Ancient Near East
3500 BC- 500 BC
The Artist as Magician
•Developed at the same time as Egypt
•Physical region had few natural defenses- many different
cultures dominated
•Discouraged uniting under single ruler
•No defining culture, but art thrived
•Sumerians were the first to settle- language was unrelated to
any other
•Sumerians had own developed writing- Cuneiform
•Not a lot of archeological evidence of the culture
•Used brick and mud which leaves very little remains
•Most information found on inscribed clay tablets
White Temple, Uruk, 3000 BC
•Temples were dominent form of
architecture•religion was city-state-based.
Each had its own god who was
regarded as king. Human ruler was
seen as the god’s steward on earth
who governed people to worship
the God. In return, the God was
expected to plead the case of the
city-state among the other deities
who controlled fertility, the
weather, water, etc.
•Administrative and religious
center was the temple
Ziggurat of King Urnammu, Ur, 2500 BC
The temple was in the center of the city on a raised platform- called Ziggurat- most
famous was the Tower of Babel. Height of 40 Ft- mountain tops are the dwelling place
of the gods, stairs and ramps lead up to the sanctuary. Main room is called the cella,
where sacrifices were made. The entrance faces away from the stairs- the worshipper
must work to be able to worship- an angular spiral path
Sculpture was found in Cella- used
as cult statue- eyes and eyebrows
were originally inlaid with colored
materials and the hair was covered
with gold/copper wig- the rest of
the figure was probably made up of
wood- severe style
Female Head, Uruk, 3500-3000 BC
•No real
•Important gods
are taller
faces and
•No distraction
from the eyes
•Forms based
on cone and
Statues from Abu Temple, c.2700-2500 BC
Close up of worshipper
•Made of bronze
•More flexible and fluid style
•Made with addition rather than
•Much more expressive
•Ram associated with the god
Tammuz, male god of natureanimals were often associated with
deities- in Egypt also
Ram and Tree, c.2600 BC
Akkadians- after the decay of the
Sumerian society (due to ambitious rulers
trying to conquer each other)- nomadic
people moved in
•Sargon of Akkad and successors (23402180 BC) proclaimed ambition to rule
the earth
•New task for art- personal glorification
of rulers
•Steele- immortalizing military victory
•Both soldier and leader are active
•Only celestial bodies are above him in
•Persuasive likeness
•Very detailed and elegant
•Surface texture
•Cast in bronze, a complex
Head of Akkadian Ruler c.2200 BC
One of the Sumerian city states remained
independent- Gudea was the ruler- still
retained ruler- god idea, but he did have
many statues of himself in shrines
•Carved of diorite, extremely hard stone
•Not very individualized features
•More realistic human characteristics
Head of Gudea, c.2150 BC
Babylon•1760-1600 BC- power was
controlled by the Babylonians
•Hammurabi was its founder
•Main goal was to provide justice to
the people
•Hammurabi’s Code- earliest form of
written law
•Top of code shows Hammurabi
confronting the sun god- announcing
•Related to the Gudea sculpture in
style and technique
•Very high relief
•Eyes are in the round- establishes
the relationship between god and
Stele ofHammurabi c.1760 BC
Assyrians•Controlled all of
Mesopotamia and
surrounding areas
•Drew on Sumerian
achievements and
reinterpreted them
•Sack of city-has
foreground and middle
ground and
Ashurnasirpal II Killing Lions, c. 850 BC
•Subject used for personal glorification of king
•not real hunts- ceremonial- lions were already caged and then released
•Energy and emotion are obvious
Dying Lioness c. 650 BC
Great sense of volume and mass despite shallow carving
•Assyrians fell in 612 BC
•Babylon had a final era of artistic
growth 612-539 BC
•Used glazed bricks rather than stone
slabs- used for surface ornamentation
•Ishtar Gate has been completely rebuilt
and restored
•Continuation of the theme of animals
in Mesopotamian art
Ishtar Gate, C.575 BC
Persia-•Area which is now called Iran- always a
nomadic land- art is a collection of objects
known as the “Animal Style”
•Decorative use of animal motif in an
abstract manner
Painted Beaker, 5000-4000 BC
Pole Top Ornament from Luristan, 9th-7th c. BC
Stag, Scythian, 7th-6th c.
• Animal Style reappears in
bronzes used by nomadic tribes
•Symmetrical and elongated,
distorted for design
•Stag is far less abstracted
•Scythians were from Southern
Russia, but spent time in Iran
learning bronzework
•Babylon became huge empireincluded Egypt and Asia Minor- only
toppled by Alexander the Great (331
•Religion was Zoroastrianism- altars
were in open air so no religious
architecture was created
•Secular palaces instead
Palace of Darius and Xerxes
Persepolis, Iran c. 500 BC
•Columns were used on a grand
scale- Egyptian influence
•Use of the motif of animals
Darius and Xerxes Giving Audience c. 490 BC
•Relief within the palace is formal and stiff, solemn, repetitive and ceremonial
•Subservient to the architecture
•Assyrian’s energy and expression has been rejected
•Overlapping garments are completely new
•Body parts can be seen underneath the fabric (probably taken from the Greeks)