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Unit 2: c. 3,500 BCE - 300 CE

Ancient Mediterranean

Images 12-47

Main Ideas:

  • As civilizations started to form, people appointed leaders to govern their civilizations, and they made artworks to showcase the power of their leaders, emphasizing a social hierarchy

  • As civilizations started to expand, they often had conflict with other civilizations, so people created works of art to showcase their own civilization as superior

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Ancient Near Eastern Art

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  • Often use long beards and elaborate headdresses to showcase the power of the king

  • Show that the kings humbly accept God as their overlord in order to legitimize their own power
  • Use hierarchy of scale to emphasize the strict Mesopotamian social hierarchies and king's power

Image 12: White Temple and its Ziggurat

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Name

White Temple and its Ziggurat

Location

Uruk (Modern Warka, Iraq)

Culture

Sumerian

Date

c. 3500 - 3000 BCE

Material

Mud Brick

  • Ziggurat is the main temple in each state → Shows the idea that the emperor rules on behalf of God (theocracy)
    • Its large size emphasizes the power of the emperor and of God

  • White temple is high above the ziggurat → Implies that God is higher than humans
    • Dedicated to Goddess Anu

    • White limestone glaze of the temple symbolizes God's purity and prominence

    • The temple had some waiting rooms → Allow Anu to purify herself before seeing people

Image 14: Statues of Votive Figures

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Name

Statues of Votive Figures

Location

The Square Temple at Eshnunna (modern Tell Asmar, Iraq)

Culture

Sumerian

Date

c. 2700 BCE

Material

Gypsum inlaid with shell and black limestone

  • Buried under a temple to stand-in for an elite person to show that the person is always praying to God
    • Elite people (such as priests and rulers) are quite busy, so they cannot be praying to God all the time; hence, these figures replace them in temples and pray to God 24/7

    • Have trapezoidal torso, huge eyes, and a head pointing upward to show that these figures are always humbly praying to God

    • Long beard and long hair signify the high social status of the elite people for which these figures stand-in

Image 16: Standard of Ur

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Name

Standard of Ur

Location

Royal Tombs at Ur (modern Tell el-Muqayyar, Iraq)

Culture

Sumerian

Date

c. 2600 - 2400 BCE

Material

Wood inlaid with shell, lapis lazuli, and red limestone

  • Both images show a social hierarchy with the king & nobility at the top, and commoners & slaves at the bottom
    • Divided into 3 registers: Top has the king, middle has high-ranking commoners, and the bottom has commoners and slaves

    • Hierarchy of scale: The king is larger in size than the other figures due to his importance

  • Peace side: Depicts a typical scene at the king's court
    • In the bottom and the middle registers, commoners and priests give offerings of animals (such as rams) to the king

    • In the top register, seated nobles offer libations of wine to the king (on the left), and two musicians (on the right) play music for the king

  • War side: Depicts a war scene
    • In the bottom register, chariots are galloping & trampling opponents

    • In the middle register, soldiers are defeating opponents & taking them captive

    • In the top register, the king (in the middle) is offered prisoners of war

Image 19: The Code of Hammurabi

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Name

The Code of Hammurabi

Location

Babylon (modern Iran)

Culture

Susian

Date

c. 1792 - 1750 BCE

Material

Basalt

  • These laws concern all aspects of society → Showcases Hammurabi's control over all aspects of society
    • Different laws concern family life, agriculture, daily life, etc.

    • There are around 300 laws

    • Most laws are very strict (e.g. an eye for an eye) → Showcase Hammurabi's concern for maintaining stability through strict authority

  • These laws are based on a social hierarchy → Reflect the social hierarchy of the Babylonians
    • Different social classes got different punishments for the same crime (the lower classes got more severe punishments)

  • At the top, Shamash (god of the sun) gives Hammurabi the power to administer justice
    • As god of the sun, Shamash can control light and dark, a metaphor for the good and bad things

    • Shamash gives Hammurabi a staff and a ring; These signify building tools → Show that Hammurabi can "build" the social order of Babylon through his law code

Image 25: Lamassu from the citadel of Sargon II

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Name

Lamassu from the Citadel of Sargon II

Location

Dur Sharrukin (modern Khorsabad, Iraq)

Culture

Neo-Assyrian

Date

720 - 705 BCE

Material

Alabaster

  • Uses anthropomorphism and imagery to emphasize the power of King Sargon II
    • A lamassu has a human head and a mythical body, possibly a griffin → Alludes to the supreme/supernatural powers of the king

    • Shows the elaborate headdress, long curly beard, and long hair of King Sargon II → Emphasizes King Sargon II's power and elite status

    • A cuneiform inscription tells that Sargon II receives his power from God → Legitimizes King Sargon II's power

  • Looking at the lamassu from different perspectives shows a different image
    • When looking from the front, the lamassu looks static → The king is watching is and has the power to prevent us from entering the citadel

    • When looking from the side, the lamassu appears moving toward us → We are on the king's good side and can enter the citadel

Image 30: Audience Hall (apadana) of Darius and Xerxes

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Name

Audience Hall (apadana) of Darius and Xerxes

Location

Persepolis, Iran

Culture

Persian

Date

c. 520 - 465 BCE

Material

Limestone

  • Showcases the immense power, scope, and influence of the Persian Achaemenid Empire
    • Large hypostyle hall had 72 columns, each crowned with a twin-headed bull, eagle, or lion → Represents Achaemenid royal authority

    • The Achaemenid king receives guests in this hypostyle hall → Those guests are easily impressed by the king's power due to the hall's elaborate decorations

    • The monumental staircase has relief sculptures of subject nations bringing tribute gifts to the king → Represents the idea that the Achaemenids are superior to all these lands

Predynastic & Old Kingdom Egyptian Art

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  • During the Old Kingdom, pharaohs just had control over the northern part of present-day Egypt as the Egyptian Civilization was just forming

  • Old Kingdom art mostly concerns spreading the power of the pharaohs and preserving their ka spirits to help establish and maintain the rule of the Egyptian pharaohs as the Egyptian Kingdom was just forming

Image 13: Palette of King Narmer

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Name

Palette of King Narmer

Culture

Predynastic Egypt

Date

c. 3000 - 2920 BCE

Material

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