APAH: Near Eastern Art

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1 APAH: Near Eastern Art Mesopotamia Fertile Crescent Tigris & Euphrates Rivers [Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Israel, Egypt] River based settlement agricultural areas Control of floods/development of strong towns [Egypt, China, India] Oldest villages Jericho, Israel (c. 8,000 BC) ~2,000 people by 7,000 BC First known stone fortification technical development Çatal Höyük, Turkey (c. 7,000 BC) Buildings adjoined no streets Shrines: Wall paintings, plaster reliefs, cult statues, bull heads Settlements = Organized Societies: Evolution of culture hunter/gatherer to sedentary farming Freed from subsistence specialization of skills Government laws and bureaucracy Formal Religion systematized, hierarchical Writing cuneiform (c BC) Great Rock of Behistun [Rosetta Stone of cuneiform writing] Mathematics Crafts: Pottery, Metalwork Anthropomorphic Stele (c. 4 th millennium BC) Arabian Peninsula, El-Maakir-Qaryat al-kaafa Sandstone Burial or religious ritual Abstract (feels modern) Beaker with Ibex motifs (c BC) Susa, Iran Painted terra cotta Animal imagery power Themes in Near Eastern Art 1. Art reinforced political power 2. Art used for narrative storytelling 3. Art reflected beliefs of organized religion

2 Sumerian Art 1 st major civilization From City-States to Kingdoms Centrality of Religion Gods replace magic personified by nature Organized, systematic Priests hierarchy City-state religion king as representative of god Patron deity for each city Political-religious Government City planning Temple religious, economic, political center Ziggurats Link to heaven / political statement White Temple and Ziggurat (late 4 th millennium BC) Uruk (Iraq) First cities and written language Mud-brick construction forced labor 40 high / whitewashed temple on top Dedicated to sky god Anu Warka head Sculpture: Sense of self-identity, awareness Beautiful, unique, skilled Importance of eyes (larger than real) Inlaid features, wig Temple statuary figure Cult statue? Tell Asmar figures (c BC) Gypsum inlaid w/ shells and black limestone Stylized Sumerian beards Convention (generalization) Simplification of forms, story Reduced to essential traits Votive figures Pious image Hands clasped around cup Eyes in admiration, eyes watchful, eyes ward off evil Stand-in for others Priests? Wealthy? Gods?

3 Standard of Ur (c BC) Royal Cemetery at Ur War & Peace Registers Narrative Hierarchy of scale Lapis lazuli From area of Afghanistan/Iran Importance of trade Akkadian Art Consolidation of power in a regional king Sargon conquers/unifies Sumerians (c. 2,300 BC) Introduces concept of Royal Power Absolute loyalty to king not city-state New pantheon of gods Use of art to establish his power Naram-Sin (Sargon s grandson) Absolute control over cities God-like sovereignty Head of Akkadian Ruler Naram-Sin? Sumerian traits Kingly visage calm, eternal Metalwork casting, engraving Damage destroys power of rulers Victory Stele of Naram-Sin Stele: carved stone slab or pillar King: taller, enemies underfoot, higher, wearing horns 1 st king to deify himself Landscape (first since Catal Höyük) Gods as stars/suns City-state period Ziggurat of Ur (c. 2,100 BC) Highest point for many miles Biblical Tower of Babel? Constructed of baked bricks Religious and administrative center of city

4 Gudea statue Ruled city-state of Lagash Attributed good fortune to gods Faithful to ritual/service to gods Humble, pious Pose similar to Tell Asmar clasped hands Diorite hard, rare, expensive From Omani Peninsula Babylonian Art Babylon city-state conquers Mesopotamia Hammurabi (1,792 BC) Code of Hammurabi Common law throughout the empire Carved on stone column Stele of Hammurabi (c BC) Basalt God-given wisdom God (Shamash) seated with mountains at feet Composite or dual perspective Hammurabi listening Profile perspective Human form to gods Assyrian Art Assyria extends dominance in Near East (ca. 900 BC) King as military commander Advanced weaponry/tactics Military state Art / Architecture as propaganda public proclamations of power Creation of citadel-palace Citadel of Sargon II Lamassu (c BC) Alabaster Guardian imagery Walled, exclusive Winged human-headed bulls Front view at rest/side view in motion Part in round/part in relief

5 Relief Sculpture Palace wall decoration Continuous reliefs Record of greatness Victories Easy to read Strong, muscular figures Assyrian Archers Pursuing Enemies King Ashurnasirpal Conflated perspective / scale Narrative purposes Ashurbanipal Hunting Lions Controlled hunt Overcoming nature Power of the ruler Persia Audience Hall (Apadana) of Darius and Xerxes (c BC) Persepolis Large empire tolerant of conquered peoples Apadana Reception hall Limestone Tribute reliefs of subject people Massive columns with bull capitals

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