Early Dynastic period[ edit ] Cylinder seal with impression; banquet scene, Urc. While continuing many earlier trends, its art is marked by an emphasis on figures of worshippers and priests making offerings, and social scenes of worship, war and court life.
New peoples and rulers introduced their own sociopolitical systems or adopted the established one, while similar process also took place in art and architecture. Thus art and architecture in Mesopotamia are commonly divided into different periods: Sumerian period, Babylonian period, Assyrian period, etc.
Statue of a man, possibly priest-king Religion and religious organization played very important role in both art and architecture in Mesopotamia.
Monumental sacral buildings - the temples were the centers of Sumerian city-states and were both religious and administrative centers throughout the Sumerian period.
Leading role of the religion in Sumerian society and political system was also noticeable in Sumerian art which was dominated by religious motifs, deities, mythological beings and priests. Stone and wood as natural sources were very rare and the Sumerian artists and artisans mostly used clay which explains the soft and round appearance of the Sumerian sculptures in compare to the Egyptian statues.
Cylinder seal and seal impression About the same time as the Sumerian cuneiform script also emerged Sumerian cylinder seal, a cylinder engraved with mesopotamia writing art and architecture images, text and sometimes even a picture story which was used as a mark, signature or confirmation.
Impressions of cylinder seals can be found on a wide range of surfaces such as pottery, doors, clay tablets, bricks, etc. The cylinder seals remained popular for a long period after decline of Sumerian city-states.
Greek historian Herodotus reports that everyone in Babylon carries a seal in his work The History of the Persian Wars c.
Fragment of Stele of Vultures Sumerian art and architecture at the beginning of the 3rd millennium BC reveal the signs of decline but Mesopotamia writing art and architecture culture, art and architecture entered into a new era after the arrival of the Semitic peoples during the Early Dynastic Period.
The arrival of the Semitic peoples which took place slowly also resulted changes in the Sumerian language but latter was used in literature until the 1st millennium BC.
The Early Dynastic Period is notable for the worshippers, small statues of individuals were placed in front of the deities in the temples. Majority of the statues of worshippers has been found in northern Mesopotamia which was settled by Semitic peoples in greater extend than other parts of Mesopotamia.
The period that followed the Early Dynastic Period reveals greater tensions towards naturalism although the fragments of the so-called Stele of Vultures found in Telloh, Iraq, depicting victory of Eannatum of Lagash over Enakalle of Umma from about BC indicate move towards stiffness.
Sargon of Akkad With the conquest of the Sumerian city-states by Sargon of Akkad about BC Mesopotamia entered a new period, commonly known as the Akkadian Period during which occurred major changes in virtually all aspects of life including art. Changes in art which were probably influenced by non-Sumerian artists can be noticed already during the reign of Sargon of Akkad c.
However, two notable heads of Akkadian statues discovered so far suggest great progress in portrait sculpture.
Little also remained preserved of Akkadian architecture. It is known that Akkadians built palaces and fortresses and that they also reconstructed many Sumerian temples but due to paucity of architectural remains it is difficult to determine the architectural style during the Akkadian Period.
In greater extent remained persevered only Akkadian cylinder seals which introduced new standards and are widely considered the zenith of the ancient Middle East art of cylinder seals. Head of Gudea Period following the collapse of the Akkadian Empire was characterized by full-scale Sumerian revival.
The Sumerian revival can be noticed already in the votive statues of Gudea of Lagash c. Several Sumerian literary hymns and prayers were also created during the rule of Gudea and his son Ur-Ningirsu.
Opinions of scholars about the statues of Gudea might be divided but there is no doubt that Sumerian revival was in full-scale during the rule of the Third Dynasty of Ur.
The period of Sumerian revival which dominated Mesopotamian art and architecture until the conquests of Hammurabi resulted in the creation of some of the greatest masterpieces including some of the most significant literary works such as the Epic of Gigamesh which is believed to be written about BC.
Architecture was the predominant art during the period of Sumerian revival and is notable for the construction of the oldest terraced temples known as the ziggurats which probably inspired the Biblical story of the Tower of Babel.
One of the finest examples of ziggurats from that period is the Great Ziggurat of Ur which was built by Ur-Nammu and his son Shulgi in 21st century BC see picture below. Ziggurat of Ur Detail of kudurru of king Melishipak I The Sumerian language was slowly replaced by the Old Babylonian dialect following the rise of the First Dynasty of Babylon, while the art works reveal a synthesis of the Akkadian art and the Sumerian revival.
The First Babylonian Dynasty which reached its height during the rule of Hammurabi began to decline already under his successor Samsu-iluna, while the power in Babylon was assumed by the Kassites about BC. The only surviving artworks from the Kassite period are the kudurrus, stone documents used as boundary stones containing symbolic images of the gods and kings who granted the land as fiefs to their vassals.
The kudurrus are mostly of poor artistic value but they are important sources for social, political and cultural history of the Middle Babylonian Period. The symbolic images of the gods present almost exclusively the Babylonian deities which means the Kassite adopted the Babylonian culture, while the images of kings granting the land to their vassals clearly indicate that the feudal system became the predominant social and political system in Mesopotamia.
Mittani Kingdom which emerged in Northern Mesopotamia about BC did not significantly contribute to the Mesopotamian art and architecture. Little is known about the Mittani culture and art, while the cylinder seals reveal influence of Babylon, Syria and Asia Minor.
Like in Babylon, deities and worship are not longer the main motif which gave place to different animals, mythological creatures and so-called trees of life which represent a supernatural world.
His son and successor Zimrilim initially supported Hammurabi but later turned against him as well. Zimrilim is better known for building himself a palace in the city of Mari which became famous for its enormous size and splendid wall paintings already in ancient world.
However, the Assyrian art from that period does not resemble the classical Assyrian art in the later period and was still under Babylonian influence.
The art works and especially the cylinder seals from the Middle Assyrian Period almost achieved the quality and perfection of the Akkadian art although Babylonian influence Sumerian revival is still noticeable. However, for the first time can be noticed the distinctive Assyrian characteristics - animal motifs in first place lions and horses.
Assyrian art at the beginning of the 1st millennium BC still reveals different influences including Hittite, Hurrian, Syrian and Aramaean.The art of Mesopotamia has survived in the archaeological record from early hunter-gatherer societies including the oldest examples of writing.
The art of Mesopotamia rivalled that of Ancient Egypt as the most grand, The Art and Architecture of the Ancient Orient, Pelican History of Art, 4th ed , Penguin.
The art of Mesopotamia rivalled that of Ancient Egypt as the most grand, Henri, The Art and Architecture of the Ancient Orient, Pelican History of Art, 4th ed , Penguin (now Yale History of Art), Mesopotamia: writing, reasoning and the gods.
Trans. by Zainab Bahrani and Marc Van de Mieroop, University of Chicago Press. The art of Mesopotamia has survived in the archaeological record from early hunter-gatherer societies including the oldest examples of writing.
The art of Mesopotamia rivalled that of Ancient Egypt as the most grand, The Art and Architecture of the Ancient Orient, Pelican History of .
History of Mesopotamia was characterized by numerous invasions and conquests which also greatly influenced art and architecture. New peoples and rulers introduced their own sociopolitical systems or adopted the established one, while similar process also took place in art and architecture.
Mesopotamian art and architecture, the art and architecture of the ancient Mesopotamian civilizations. Three factors may be recognized as contributing to the character of Mesopotamian art and architecture.
One is the sociopolitical organization of the Sumerian city-states and of the kingdoms and. Architectural Marvels of Ancient Mesopotamia The land between the rivers Here is found the first form of writing and the beginnings of literature (including the first story of creation and the flood) which made possible the pursuit of knowledge and economic order within an organized government.
Pictures of the art and architecture of.