The Rise of Civilizations. The Art of the Ancient Near East 3000 BC – 630 AD. Important Terms. Fertile Crescent Deity Epic Of Gilgamesh City States Cuneiform/Pictograph Stele Votive Hierarchy of Scale Narrative/ Commemorative Votive / Libation Relief: sunken - low - high – bas
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The Art of the Ancient Near East
3000 BC – 630 AD
Cuneiform Cone or nails were used in ancient Mesopotamia around 2000 BC as a dedicatory text when a monarch built or rebuilt a major building and dedicated it to the city deity.
Long thought to be an Assyrian tablet, computer analysis has matched it with the sky above Mesopotamia in 3300BC and proves it to be of much more ancient Sumerian origin.
The tablet is an "Astrolabe", the earliest known astronomical instrument.
Consisted of a segmented, disc shaped star chart with marked units of angle measure inscribed upon the rim.
They used it for many things such as transportation, war, farming, and trading.
It is believed to be invented when two other simple tools, the roller and the sledge.
When they combined the two, the sledge created grooves in the wooden log, which eventually was developed into a separate wheel and axle.
The Sumerians occupied the lower valley between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in what is now southern Iraq. They established urban communities and developed the earliest known writing system.
Inanna - Female Head from Uruk, c. 3500 - 3000 B.C., Iraq Museum, Baghdad.
A vase divided into three registers shows animals, a procession of naked men, and a "priest-king" bringing offerings to a female priestess or goddess.
Statuettes of worshipers, from the Square Temple at Eshnunna , Iraqca. 2700 BCEGypsum inlaid with shell and black limestone, tallest figure approx. 2’ 6" high
Cone / Cylinder
Seated statuette of Urnanshe, from the Ishtar temple at Mari , Syria, ca. 2600–2500 BCE. Gypsum inlaid with shell and lapis lazuli, 10 1/4" high
The city-states of ancient Sumer were often at war with one another, and warfare is the theme of the so-called Stele of the Vultures from Girsu
Fragment of the victory stele of Eannatum(Stele of the Vultures), from Girsu, Syria, ca. 2600–2500 BCE. Limestone, full stele approx. 5’ 11" high
War & Peace of the Standard of Ur, Royal Cemetery, Ur, Iraqca. 2600 BCE. Wood inlaid with shell, lapis lazuli, and red limestoneapprox. 8" x 1’ 7".
Bull-headed lyre (restored) from Tomb 789 ("King’s Grave") Royal Cemetery, Ur , Iraq ca. 2600 BCE. Gold leaf and lapis lazuli over a wooden core, approx. 5’ 5" high
A bearded bull's head decorates the sound box of a Sumerian lyre.
Other imaginary composite creatures decorate a panel on the sound box itself.
Resembles instrument depicted on the standard of Ur.
The top of the sound board is said to that of Gilgamesh as hero fighting off animals.
Heraldic Composition A composition that is symmetrical on either side of a central figure
All three of the faces look surprised. Either way it depicts the power of man over animal. All if these registers suggest a myth that would have been well known by the Sumerians.
Animal Attendants bring food an drink to the feast
A trio of Animal Musicians and Servers.TheDonkey plays the harp as it is held up by a bear.
Banquet scene, cylinder seal (left) and its modern impression (right),from the tomb of Pu-abi, Royal Cemetery, Ur ,Iraq ca. 2600 BCE. Lapis lazuli, approx. 2" high
A man and a woman sit and drink from beakers in a banquet scene carved in miniature on a cylinder seal.
The first near eastern kings:In 2334 B.C., Sumeria came under the domination of the Semitic ruler Sargon, whose city, Akkad, gave its name to the language and the culture.
Hethe first Mesopotamian ruler to unite Sumer and other Mesopotamian territories under one regime and proclaim himself king in his own right.
Along with this political shift came a shift in artistic representation.
Earlier works often focused on depictions of divine beings.
In the Akkadian period, the rise of human sovereigns led to the creation of royal portraits that glorified earthly rulers.
The art of this time focuses on exhibiting the status and power of male rulers. Their victories in war and laws are recorded on upright stone slabs.
Also known as Sargon of Akkad
This bronze portrait head, believed to represent Sargon, is one of the first of these royal likenesses. Through its precise, detailed craftsmanship and realistic features, not seen in earlier works, the head simultaneously conveys a sense of its subject’s grandeur and humanity.
The representation of the gods as star images apears at the top of this stele.
The fact that Naram-Sin has rammed a spear through the neck of an enemy could indicate the act as a sacrifice to the gods.
Naram-Sin's position in relations to the gods above and the people below is particularly significant—he is halfway between his soldiers and the gods.
Not only is he a god on earth but also the humans' intermediary between them and the other gods.
This is not just an early example of the "divine rights of kings" but of the actual "divine king."
Naram-Sin most prominent.
As he tramples over one of his fallen enemies others beg for mercy (note the one with a broken spear).
The enemies fall, flee or beg.
He has kicked one off the mountain and rammed a spear through another's neck as a possible sacrifice to the gods (represented by the star-like figures) above him.
When Akkadian domination ended, Sumerian culture was revived. The new Sumerian kings built a huge stepped ziggurat with long ramp-like stairways at the royal city of Ur. The Neo-Sumerian ruler Gudea had numerous statues carved in his image.
The core of the ziggurat was made of mud brick, covered with baked bricks laid with bitumen, a naturally occurring tar.
Ishtar grants power to a new king:A mural survived from a royal palace destroyed by Hammurabi in 1757 B.C.
To the east of Sumer, Akkad, and Babylon, in what is western Iran today, a civilization flourished that historians refer to by the Biblical name Elam.
A statue cast, weighing 3,760 pounds, features a solid bronze core and an outer surface of hollow-cast copper.
The Assyrians undertook ambitious building projects, such as the citadel of Sargon II, which was decorated with large-scale stone sculptures of lamassu and with relief carvings illustrating the king's prowess in war and hunting.
Guarding the gate to Sargon's palace were colossal limestone monsters
In art, lamassu were depicted as hybrids, winged bulls or lions with the head of a human male
The horned cap attests to their divinity, and the belt signifies their power.
The sculptor gave these guardian figures five legs so that they appear to be standing firmly when viewed from the front but striding forward when seen from the side.
Composite creature & man
These lamassi protected and supported important doorways in Assyrian palaces.
Assyrian archers pursuing enemies, relief from the Northwest Palace of Ashurnasirpal II, Iraq, ca. 875-860 BCE. Gypsum, 2' 10 5/8 high
For their palace walls the Assyrian kings commissioned extensive series of narrative reliefs exalting royal power and piety. The degree of documentary detail in the Assyrian reliefs is without parallel in the ancient Near East.
It depicts the Assyrian people vanquishing and taking over various warring people.
The majority of the artwork within the palace show tales of King Ashurnasirpal II
Literally to small for compatriots
Adjustment for clarity, behind head, but over shoulder
Arrow in back
Euphrates River (stylized pattern)
Across the river, but looks as if the river
Libation(ritual of pouring liquid)
The Assyrian palace reliefs frequently portrayed the king and his retinue in ceremonial roles or paying homage to the gods.
Not many painting survived , just relief carvings.
Two centuries later, sculptors carved hunting reliefs for the Nineveh palace of the conqueror of Elamite Susa, Ashurbanipal (not AshurNASIRpal)
Glorifies king by showing he ‘s a slayer of beasts, reapeatedly.
Strength, courage and nobility.
Ashurbanipal hunting lions while attendants protect blind side.
Only the king had the privilege to kill the beast, the attendants only wounded.
Blood streaming from wounds, drag her hind-quarters, paralyzed
Strength in her muscles
Imperial Persepolis:The most important source of knowledge about Persian art and architecture is the ceremonial and administrative complex on the citadel at Persepolis.
It was built between 521 and 465 BCE by Darius I (r. 522-486 BCE) and Xerxes (r. 486-465 BCE), successors of Cyrus.
Rock cut podium
Royal audience hall, apadana
The first building phase (dark blue on the map) may have lasted from 518 to 490. Darius' men leveled the ground and created a terraceon which stood a large building (the 'treasury' in the south-east; #2 on the second map) and an audience hall.
Persepolis, building phases:dark blue: 515-490 purple: 490-480 green: 480-470 red: 470-450 pink: 360-338
On the northern wall, we can see a large procession of dignitaries. Closest to the king, the Persian dignitaries are walking; people with horses are next; at the end, we see two chariots.
Ambassadors bringing gifts to the Persian king, reliefs on the terrace of the royal audience hall (apadana), Persepolis, Iran, ca. 521–465 BCE.
The Sasanian dynasty of Iran ruled an area from the Euphrates River to Bactria from the third century A.D. until the Islamic conquest in the seventh century, controlling for much of that time the Silk Route from Byzantium to China
Shapur appears larger than life.
Crown breaks through border drawing attention to king (Like Standard of Ur).
Bodies of Roman soldiers crumble under his feet.
Valerian attendants beg at his feet.
Personify entire Roman army
At right, attendants lead in Valerian, who kneels before Shapur begging for mercy.
Borrowed from Greco-Roman art, a cherub brings victory garland
Same crown as silver head