208 Module 2 Egypt and Mesopotamia Mini Lecture Art of the Ancient Near East ( Mesopotamia )

Mini-Lecture Art of Ancient Near East

( Mesopotamia )


This area is known as Mesopotamia. It is where the earliest Bible stories of Abraham, Noah; and countless wars between rival groups take place; and may be the setting for the Garden of Eden. It is the core of a region known as the Fertile Crescent located around two great rivers, the Tigress; and Euphrates.

Our recent problems with Iraq demonstrate how this region continues to play a part on the history’s stage, with dictators, and terrorists acting very much like an ancient kings challenging outside enemies.

Each city state had their own protecting King, and Gods which priests communed with in various rituals. 

Before the terrorists destroyed the towers, they were destroying large statues of Buddha in Afghanistan. Throughout history various groups wanted to destroy Civilization, and return the ancient ways. 

Recent events in Syria, and Iraq are having a negative impact on the history of art.

Islamists have been erasing the history of art by destroying artifacts. In this module we will be looking back in history, and looking forward to a hopeful solution to these dire events. 

We will study the beginning of civilization known as the Neolithic Revolution. The two key places where people started to advance beyond the way of life in the Paleolithic, was in Egypt, and Mesopotamia.

Here we see the first farming, and the first cities, along with the art that marks so many other beginnings.

Statues from Tell Asmar

Standing male worshipper


Standing Male Worshipper (votive figure), c. 2900-2600 B.C.E., from the Square Temple at Eshnunna (modernTell Asmar, Iraq), Sumerian, Early Dynastic I-II, gypsum alabaster, shell, black limestone, bitumen, 11 5/8 x 5 1/8 x 3 7/8 inches / 29.5 x 10 cm (The Metropolitan Museum of Art).


The cylinder form of these figures differ from the block like figures we will find in Egyptian Art. Notice how their eyes are in a trancelike gaze, communing with a supernatural force.

Standing Male Worshipper from Tell Asmar (video) | Khan Academy

The Stele of Hammurabi

Image result for stele of hammurabi


This cylinder describes the codes of law put in place by this Mesopotamian king. Here we see him with the Sun God, Shamish. There is a great deal of realism of the figures in this 7″ high black-asphalt stele.


Dying Lion



Wall-panel relief; stone; a lion has been hit by an arrow and is dying; it squats on its haunches, facing right; the arrow has penetrated its chest; blood gushes out of its mouth as it tries to stay upright; the veins on its head stand out, its eyes are b

Mesopotamia was a very violent place, and it still is.


Groups were constantly fighting over resources such as land and water, or oil. Read the Old Testament if you want a picture of life in this ancient time. There are very few images of compassion towards fellow men. This image of a dying lioness in agony demonstrates a compassionate view towards this poor animal.

The blood is portrayed pouring out of the lion’s wounds. Later in the course, we will see images of Christ that will recall this unique image.


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