Art of the Ancient Near East Part 1 SUMERIAN ART, 3,000 BCE
SUMERIAN CITY STATES • Settled in Mesopotamia – birth place of Judaism (Garden of Eden), Christianity and Islam • Continued the development of sustainable agriculture: canal construction, crop collection and distribution • These developments allowed portions of the population to focus on manufacturing , trade and administration • Complex Urban Societies called CITY STATES • THEOCRACY: Each CITY STATE was under the rule and protection of different Mesopotamian deities • Sumerian kings were the god’s representatives on earth and they directed all communal activities of their CITY STATE • Monumental temples were erected in honor of the Gods and their power on Earth • Often at war with each other – WAR and power are common themes in Sumerian art.
Writing Pictographs – pictures standing in for words Cuneiforms – clay tablets carved with wedged shaped forms – beginning of writing Epic of Gilgamesh pre-dates The Odyssey. Tells the story of the legendary King of Uruk.
What are the facts? (F) Artist: Trades People Patron: Rulers of Sumer Title: White Temple Date: 3,000 BCE Size: Monumental Location: Uruk, Modern Iraq What is the medium and technique? (M) No access to stone. Constructed of Mud Bricks
How is the structureconstructed? (FA) Temple (cella) Ziggurat Bent-axis Plan
Why was it created? (CA) • 1. Physical Location • Theocratic society and the central role of god’s in daily life • The main temple dedicated to the city’s chief god, Anu (sky god). • Temple was the nucleus of the city. • 2. Patron • - Priest-King, City • 3. Historical Events • - Constant war and disease = fear of Gods • 4. Concepts and Ideas • - Temples were called waiting rooms: believed the deity would • descend from the heavens and appear before the priests and rulers • in the cella. • - Commercial and administrative decisions tied to worship and ritual
Devices used to declare sacred spaces • Exclusivity • Material wealth / decoration • Ritual and Ceremony • History of location adding to the site • MEANING / FUNCTION? (MF) • Discuss how the building’s exclusivity, material wealth and ritual function support the religious beliefs and political system of its time?
What are the facts? (F) Artist: Trades Person Patron: Citizen of Sumer Title: Sumerian Votive Offering Date: 3,000 BCE Size: Varies Location / findspot: Square Temple at Eshnunna What is the medium and technique? (M) Carved Stone, with shell and Black Limestone eyes
What is the artworks content / subject matter? (SM) Mortal rather than deities - Worshippers • How is the subject matter • visually represented? (FA) • Standing or sitting • Hierarchial scale • Simple forms: cones and cylinders • Stiff • Frontal, hands clasped • Clothing and hair, physical types • Large eyes, awe, fear
WHY WAS IT CREATED (CA) • 1. PHYSICAL LOCATION • Placed in temples facing altars or statues of Gods • 2. PATRON • Commissioned by worshippers for specific gods. • 3. HISTORICAL EVENTS • Constant threat of war and disease = fear of death • 4. CONCEPTS AND IDEAS • Theocracy, belief in an unpleasant afterlife FUNCTION? (MF) Surrogate for worshipper, offering constant prayer, awe and reverence to the God to ensure a long life.
Discuss howSumerian society and beliefs shape the form and function of the artwork?
What are the facts? (F) Artist: Trades Person Patron: Sumerian Aristocray Title: Standard of Ur (War and Peace) Date: 3,000 BCE Size: Varies Location / findspot: Royal Cemetary, Ur What is the medium and technique? (M) Mosaic: Wood, lapis lazuli, shell and red limestone
What is the artworks content / subject matter? (SM) • - War • Peace
How is the subject matter visually represented? (FA) • Narrative Devices: • 3 Registers. Read left to right. Bottom to top • Sequential ordering of story: • 1: Narrative Frieze of battle • 2: Gathering and leading away the conquered foe • 3: Delivering the captured • Hierarchy of Scale • Twisted perspective, Conceptual representation
WHY WAS IT CREATED (CA) 1. PHYSICAL LOCATION Placed in burial chamber 2. PATRON Commissioned by family members of the dead or the aristocrat himself. 3. HISTORICAL EVENTS May depict actual war and the victory celebration 4. CONCEPTS AND IDEAS Expresses the idea that the Sumerian King has two principle roles: Mighty warrior and chief administrator who, with the blessing of the Gods, assures the prosperity of the land during peacetime
Meaning / Function? • Meaning: Communicates two sides of Sumerian society and the Duties of the King • Function: Unknown object Explain how the narrative devices used in the Standard of Ur make meaning?
ART OF LATER MESOPOTAMIA & PERSIA • Akkadian 2200 BCE • Neo-Sumerian 2100 BCE • Babylonian 1750 BCE • Hittite 1500 BCE • Assyrian 1000 BCE • Neo-Babylonian 500 BCE • Persian 350 BCE
POWER AND AUTHORITY • Sumer City States come under rule of outsider, Sargon of Akkad • Sargon’s name means “True King” • Empire brings new concept of royal power as loyalty to the king rather than the city-state • Theocracy turns to Monarchy • King is likened to a God – has God-like sovereignty Vandalized head of Akkadian Ruler
What are the facts? (F) Artist: Unknown Patron: Naram-Sin (Akkadian) Title: Victory Stele of Naram-Sin Date: 2,250 BCE Size: 6’ 7” Location / findspot: Susa, Iran What is the medium and technique? (M) Carved Stone Relief
What is the artworks content / subject matter? (SM) Naram-Sin leading his army up a mountain
WHY WAS IT CREATED (CA) • HISTORICAL EVENT • To commemorate the victory of • battle in a violent an unstable time • PATRON / CONCEPT • Naram-Sim: King as God
How is the subject matter visually represented? (FA) • The king stands alone at the top, taller than the rest – rising into the heavens like a ziggurat • He wears a horned helmet signifying divinity gained through victory • He steps on the fallen bodies of his enemies • Enemies are in disarray while his army is ordered = rule / order • Artists no longer using a horizontal frieze. • Tells story by placing figures in a landscape • MEANIG / FUNCTION (MF)
What are the facts? (F) Artist: Unknown Patron: Hammurabi (Babylon) Title: Stele with the laws of Hammurabi Date: 1,780 BCE Size: 7’ 4” Location / findspot: Susa, Iran What is the medium and technique? (M) Bas relief
What is the artworks content / subject matter? (SM) Top: Shamash (sun God) presenting King with a rod and ring symbolizing Authority Below: Code of Law
WHY WAS IT CREATED (CA) • HISTORICAL EVENTS • Return of City States – Babylon is a City State • The conception of written law codes • PATRON • Hammurabi - establishes his authority as a divined leader, pious theorcratand micro-manager • CONCEPTS/IDEAS • Leadership and order – • Society needs clear social rule • Law is divine – Precursor to Judeo/Christian beliefs
How is the subject matter visually represented? (FA) • Hammurabi raises hand in • respect to Shamash • Nearly same size a the god • Shamash hands him a rod • and circle • Symbols are builders tool = • builder of social order • Twisted perspective. • Foreshortening and depth • MEANING/FUNCTION (MF)
What are the facts? (F) Artist: Unknown Patron: Sargon II - Assyrian Royalty Title: Lamassur Date: 720 BCE Size: 13’ 10” Location / findspot: palace, Iraq
What is the artworks content / subject matter? (SM) Lamassu = Winged, man-headed bull • WHY WAS IT CREATED (CA) • HISTORICAL EVENTS • Assyrian Empire • Mindful of possible attack • Built citadels – fortified palaces • LOCATION • Placed at entrance to throne room – ward off king’s enemies • CONCEPT • King as ruler or all – including beasts living and mtyhological
How is the subject matter visually represented? (FA) • Massive and immobile = intimidating • guardian figure • Visually intimidating monster –Possibly face of the king because wearing go crown • High relief • Twisted perspective = 2 distinctive views • Stylized patterns and naturalism • MEANING/FUNCTION (MF)
What are the facts? (F) Artist: Unknown Patron:Ashurnasipal II Title: Lamassur Date: 875 BCE Size: 2’ 10” Location / findspot: Palace, Iraq What is the medium and technique? (M)
WHY WAS IT CREATED (CA) • LOCATION • Placed walls– Assyrian kings decorated palace walls with narratives establishing their authority • HISTORICAL EVENTS / PATRON documentary detail in artwork. Every relief is inscribed with Ashurnasirpal’s name and describing his accomplishments
What is the artworks content / subject matter? (SM) Ashunasirpal driving enemies into the Euphrates • How is the subject matter visually represented? (FA) • Condenses space to tell the story clearly • Enlarges human actors so they stand out – they are bigger than the architecture • Uses multiple perspectives to capture decisive moment in history • Meaning/Function (MF)
NEO - BABYLON: IT’S MASSIVE ZIGURAT BECAME IMMOTALIZED AS THE TOWER OF BABYLON IN THE BIBLE Nebuchadnezzar (604-561 B.C.E.) largely rebuilt this ancient city including its walls and seven gates. What are the facts? (F) Artist: Unknown Patron:Nebuchadnezzar (neo-Baylonian) Title: Gates of Ishtar Date: 575 BCE Size: Monumental Location / findspot: Babylon, Iraq
What is the artworks content / subject matter? (SM) What is the medium and technique? (M) Mud Brick glazed with lapis lazuli Bricks treated like a mosaic
WHY WAS IT CREATED (CA) • PATRON • Record of the kings triumphs and contributions to the empire • HISTORICAL EVENTS • Rebirth of Babylonian Empire – conquered Jerusalem • Great building campaign to reinstate glory and authority of Babylon and its king • LOCATION • Surround / Fortified the city but also welcomed friendly guests • CONCEPT • Visual wealth is a signifier of triumph. • Architecture as an intimidator • Architectural decoration as a signifier of God-like control and order
What are the visual characteristics of the structure? (FA) • Processional leading to the gate lined with nearly life size lions – lions are at eye level, ferocious but under the order and control of the king = fear of the king • Lions are the symbol of the God Ishtar (god of war and wisdom) • Aruk(ancient bull) is the symbol of the god Adad – god of storms and fertility of the land and harvest = under the king’s rule the aruk ensures prosperity • Blue lapis glaze + expensive, and visually stunning – testimony to grandeur, intimidaing and impressive
Nebuchadnezzar’s Inscription • I Nebuchadnezzar laid the foundation of the gates down to the ground water level and had them built out of pure blue stone. Upon the walls in the inner room of the gate are bull and dragon, and thus I magnificently adorned them with luxurious splendor for all mankind to behold in awe. • Discuss how the presentation of the subject matter that adorn the Gates of Ishtar express Nebuchadnezzar’s power and authority.