It is in the Ancient Near east, that writing first began. With the invention of writing came written records that replaced the reliance upon images and oral traditionsas a means of keeping records.
- Geographically, the Ancient Near East refers to area that includes present day Turkey, Iran and Iraq.
- Populations first settled in the grassy areas surrounding the river valleys.The area was ideal for agriculture, with good soil, adequate rainfall and domesticated animals.
- As the population increased, the people began to move into the river valleys and delta regions.
CHRONOLOGY: divided into four general phases
- # Early Neolithic Communities 8000-5500 BCE
- # Ancient Mesopotamian Cultures 3200-330 BCE
- # Sumerian Period 3200-2225 BCE (includes the Akkadian Period)
- # Assyrian Period 1000-612 BCE
Early Neolithic Communities
Jericho-located on a plateau on the Jordan River.
- represents the world's oldest fortified community
- fortifications make the beginning of monumental architecture
SCULPTURE-examples from Jericho mark the beginning of monumental sculpture and individualized portraiture.
- Human Skull, c7000-6000 BCE
Chatal Huyuk-located in Anatolia, flourished 6500-5500 BCE.This area was the first to experiment in city planning.
SCULPTURE-most examples are small female figures
- Seated Goddess, Catal Huyuk, c5900 BCE
Between 3500 and 2800 BCE city-states began to emerge along the rivers of Southern Mesopotamia. The city-states of Sumer are considered to be one of the first great civilizations of man and are credited with inventing the first written language, cuneiform.
ARCHITECTURE-ziggurat-a stepped pyramid structure, with a temple or shrine located on top. Ziggurats were religious shrines, that symbolized a bridge between man on earth, and the gods in heaven.
- Nanna Ziggurat, Ur (modern Iraq) (fig.2-5), c2100-2050 BCE
SCULPTURE-Sumerian sculpture was religious in nature, representing Sumerian dieties.
- Face of Woman,from Urak (fig.2-6), c3500-3000 BCE
- Statuettes, from Temple of Abu, Tell Asmar (fig.2-9), c2900-2600 BCE
- Bull Lyre, from tomb of Queen Puabi of Ur (fig.2-11), c2685
- Standard of Ur, c2700 BCE
Approximately 2300 BCE, the city-states of Sumer came under the domination of a powerful ruler, Sargon I of Akkad. The Akkadians adopted Sumerian culture with one exception. It was under the leadership of Sargon, that devotion to the leader rather than the city-state became the political norm. The Akkadians ruled until 2180 BCE, when they were attacked and conquered by the Guti (only Lagash remained independent).
SCULPTURE-first examples of political works of art
- Head of Akkadian Ruler from Nineveh (fig.2-15), c2200 BCE
- Stela of Naramsin (fig. 2-16), c2254-2218 BCE
Sumer was once again fully united under the Babylonian ruler, Hammurabi in 1792 BCE. Hammurabi was most famous for his code of laws.
- Stela of Hammurabi, from Susa (fig.2-18), c1792-1750 BCE
- Guardian Figure, from throne room of Sargon II (fig.2-23), c720 BCE
- Citadel and Palace Complex of Sargon II (fig2-22), c721-706 BCE
- Ishtar Gate c575 BCE
- Apadana (audience hall) of Darius and Xerxes (fig 2-32) 518-c460 BCE