Art History of the Near East through the 3rd Dynasty


Natufian Period

10000 BCE to 8500 BCE

Ain Sakhri couple

10000 BCE - 8500 BCE

Representing an idea, made of stone, themes of fertility, love togetherness represented

Jewelry, necklaces of bone and teeth- El Wad

10000 BCE - 8500 BCE

Had an idea about what they looked like, from El Wad

Animal-headed bones- Carmel Caves

10000 BCE - 8500 BCE

adorned, embellished

Tools with Animal forms

8000 BCE

Embellished, adorned: obvious extra effort. Begin to represent things

Neolithic Period

starts 8500 BCE

Temple at Gobekli Tepe

9000 BCE - 8000 BCE

Huge collective effort, not made for living probably a spiritual purpose. Many bodies found there which indicate that it could be a place where they stored bodies. Scavenger figurines on the walls suggest that this was a place where they could go find decomposing bodies. The people could then use the skulls

Tower of Jericho- Jericho

8500 BCE - 7500 BCE

Largest monument of this period, required collective effort and resources to create- sense of politics and collectivism. Area surrounded by walls

Skulls found in Tower- Jericho

8500 BCE - 6000 BCE

Lack of jaw, used to represent a person maybe for use of history or property ownership (genealogical claim to the land). Worked to bring the individual back to life (not unlike modern photographs) Eyes generally filled in. Made of plaster

Statues and Busts from Ain Ghazal, Jordan

8500 BCE - 6000 BCE

Both males and females, emphasize the nose and the eyes, not really the mouth. Made of plaster. Buried together perhaps as a ritual. Maybe representative figures that were important and needed to be disposed of properly. Some have rope marks- made to stand

Wall Paintings, volcano and bull- (Anatolia) Turkey

6500 BCE - 5720 BCE

Volcano: Sense of landscape and place, houses rectangular which indicates the need for more space and organization. Corporate identity/endeavor.
Bull/Deer Hunting scenes- disorganized, little order to be found. Babies in the deer scene- maybe they already died?

Clay Figurines- Anatolia

6500 BCE - 5720 BCE

Woman seated in throne. Large features, breasts imply fertility. Nude and very large status/wealth- also attributed to the fact that she is seated. Has small feet and small hands
Kneeling woman similar to before, closed form with leges and arms turned inward also small feet and hands.

Sumerian Art

Starts in Uruk 4000 BCE to 3000 BCE

Slim Statue- Sumer

4000 BCE - 3500 BCE

Slim figurines, nude woman breast feeding baby, animal/serpent head. Nude with emphasis on the genetalia- perhaps a symbol of fertility. Disproportionate figure

White Temple (Ziggurat at Uruk)

3500 BCE - 3000 BCE

Coated with white plaster. Not large because not a public space for people to worship. Only a select few could go there. Outside much more worship took place- center of activity.

Ziggurat at Uruk

3500 BCE - 3000 BCE

Rose out from the desert. Platform for the temple, center of the city. Dedicated to Anu. Centerpiece of the city- served as a marker of identity and power (and power of the King). Used niches and buttresses to create a shadowy design

Uruk Vase- Temple of Inana

3000 BCE

Watershed moment in art- first piece to be done in registers. Made of alabaster. Depicts a hierarchy of life from plants and nature, to animals, humans and then gods. The registers gradually get bigger, showing the importance of the life forms. Communicate an idea in an orderly way. Humans engaged in ritual nudity giving to the gods. Didactic- shows that you should give part of your crop to the gods and in return they will bless you with a good harvest.

Uruk Head

3000 BCE

Made of marble, much more naturalistic than we've seen. Features very proportional and soft. Eyes empty, probably filled in at one point. Could be the representation of a goddess. Made to be put on a wall as seen by flat back.

Hunt Stele

3000 BCE

Stele of Kings hunting beasts. Shows that King is responsible for controlling wild and keeping people safe as well as getting people food- from a metaphorical standpoint. Lions are symbols of royalty. His right arm is exposed showing that he is fit to lead.

Votive Statues- Square Temple (Sumer)

2700 BCE

Not very naturalistic, made of stone. took the place of worshippers. Both males and females represented but mostly males. Large, disproportionate eyes, usually filled in (probably with lapis lasuli). Woman smaller and completely covered

Statue of Ibihil from Mari

2600 BCE - 2340 BCE

Seated man, closed form. Adorned skirt, more proportional than Square Temple votives. Large, full beard.

Priestess from Mari (ED III)

2500 BCE

Sitting down means that she is important. Very adorned with full clothing and headdress. Could be used in a ritual. Perhaps a goddess of some type?

Ur-Nashe Tablet (King of Lagash)

2500 BCE

Beginnings of Royal Depiction. King shown both seated and standing and is larger than the other figures in the composition. Shown rebuilding and dedicating a temple- the job of the king. Shown in the composite form, torso frontal while the rest of the body is in profile. Some cuneiform writing on the tablet as well.

Stele of the Vultures- Lagash

2450 BCE

2 stories shown in registers. Overall a fight between Umma and Lagash (Lagash wins). The left side is an iconic image of a god using a mace to kill the captives of war he has in a net. They are nude and in chaotic poses. The King is shown much larger than the captives or anyone else. On the flip side, when read bottom to top, the 3rd and 4th registers show the battle scene. The vultures on top are collecting the body parts. The army is shown as a single mass trampling the bodies of the naked dead enemies.

Standard of Ur

2400 BCE

Made of wood, lapus lazuli and shell. 3 registers on either side the one side is a war and shows the contrast between dead and alive via nudity and position, the front side shows. Front side shows ceremony after with the procession to the King. Little distinct portraiture.

Akkadian Period

2340 BCE to 2180 BCE


2300 BCE - 2200 BCE

Made of bronze- naturalistic. Full beard and headdress much like Sumerian ideals- try to blend the cultures. Propagandistic piece to convey uniqueness. Akkadians sought to create a sprawling empire.

Stele from Nasriya

2300 BCE

Prisoners bound and naked- being transported. Naturalistic depiction of Akkadians. Well defined bodies standing in full profile.

Stele of Narum-Sin

2200 BCE

Sandstone. Victory over Lullubi. Diagonal register. Unique sense of place with landscape features- trees and mountains. Narum -Sin most dominant, gods marginalized to stars. NS presented as the god for the first time. Wearing the bull horns and has the right arm exposed.



Statues of Gudea of Lagash

2125 BCE - 2000 BCE

Made of diorite (expensive and rare). Hard to carve accounts for blocky figures. No beard but does have cap. Naturalistic features of face and hands taken from Akkadians. Seated means importance. Similar of votives of Sumer (Square Temple).

Stele of Ur-Nammu

2100 BCE

Limestone. King of Ur approaching a divinity and receiving rod and ring (stake out a path for justice). He's building a temple which is the job of the king. The god has horns on crown which equate to power. Ur Nammu approaching figure, putting something plantlike in the vase symbol of fertility perhaps. King has rolled rim hat.

Ziggurat at Ur

2100 BCE

Built by Ur-Nammu out of mud bricks. Bottom made out of bitumen to keep out the water of floods. Outside had niches and buttresses that created a visual effect. Center of the city, held the temple ona platform.

Old Babylonian Period

1894 BCE- 1585 BCE

Investiture of Zimri-Lin of Mari

1760 BCE

Wall art- very colorful. Rectangular register in the center where the ceremony happens. Ishtar giving the king rod/ring. 4 Rivers underneath (symbol would be replicated elsewhere). Outside register an Eden-like scenery with lush trees and animals.

Stele of Hammurabi

1750 BCE

Hammurabi's code consisted of 282 laws. Not the first but best preserved set of laws. Somewhat propaganda-like. On the top, the god seated in a twisted perspective. Sun rays coming out of shoulders (Shamash). Giving rod/ring. Hammurabi, right arm exposed with profile eye (first on profile), wearing headdress.

Predynastic Egypt

5000 BCE to 3100 BCE

Female Clay/Ivory Figurines

4000 BCE - 3000 BCE

Nude women- Mesopotamian imagery. Buried a round pit (less need for space/less developed) perhaps notions of an afterlife. Idea of fertility found in the nakedness

Oxford Palette

3300 BCE

Small grinding plate. Lots of chaos: animals fighting, some real some mythological. No ground lines or organization apparent.

Wall painting at the Tomb in Hierakonopolis

3300 BCE

See pictures of Egyptian funerary ships, transport the dead to the West side of the Nile. Master of animals motif, however the composition is not very organized.

Flint Knife found at Gabelel Arak

3300 BCE

2 registers, ivory handle in the middle. On one side two registers with fighting on top and perhaps a warship on the bottom. On the other side, master of animals motif and animal fighting.

Battlefield Palette

3300 BCE

From Hierakonopolis. More orderly than Oxford Palatte- implied ground lines, main action. Battle w/ naked prisoners- Lion may represent the king, idea of social order. Bottom part evokes the Stele of the Vultures (2450 BCE).

Historical Egypt and the Old Kingdom

Narmer Palette

3000 BCE

This starts the historical period because there is writing on it. Divided into three registers- the first register at the top has the symbol for catfish and chisel which together make Narmer. Middle Narmer is holding a mace and is killing a captive in a chaotic pose. Horus, the representational god of the king is shown by a falcon who is standing on the symbol of Upper Egpyt. Narmer is wearing the white crown of Upper Egpyt. On the flipside, the battle is over and Narmer is wearing the Red Crown of Lower Egypt--> represents unity of the empire. Bottom image of the bull protecting the city

Mastaba Tomb of Queen Merneith- Saqqara

2900 BCE

Burial monument above ground, also burial in Southern Egypt- idea of a unified Egypt. Smaller mastabas surrounded the main one, probably for family. The outside was decorated with niches and buttresses much like Sumerian ziggurats.

Sculpture of Khasekhem

2700 BCE

Limestone staute. Seating pose with arm across lap. Generally closed form. Wearing the White Crown of Upper Egypt, from Hierakompolis.

Wooden Relief of the Official Hesire

2650 BCE

Standing and seated, idealized body (one that could be youthful in the afterlife). Shown carrying a rod. Composite perspective. Headress on. First instance of a private individual having a mastaba. In seated pose, carries a writing kit- writing meant a good job because so rare


2650 BCE - 2180 BCE

Step Pyramid of Zoser

2650 BCE

Part of the 3rd Dynasty. Designed by Imhotep. Made of limestone, idea of stone as permanence arises so things will last forever. Created an entire necropolis around the pyramid. The most important piece was the 6 tiered pyramid that held Zoser.

Statue of Zoser- from Step Pyramid

2650 BCE

In Saqqara. Made of stone to last forever. Seated, important. Wrapped fully in gown in a closed form. Very much connected to his 'throne' physically. Dark brown skin color, typical of male representation. Wearing the Lapat Crown.