Ancient Near Eastern Art

Ancient Near Eastern Art - STO-02-026-051.I 4/6/04 1:45 PM...

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Unformatted text preview: STO-02-026-051.I 4/6/04 1:45 PM Page 26 27 ART OF THE ANCIENT NEAR EAST ISITORS TO CAPITAL CITIES LIKE WASHINGTON, PARIS, AND ROME TODAY stroll along broad avenues among huge buildings, dominating gateways, and im- posing sculpture. They are experiencing controlled space, a kind of civic design that rulers and governmentsconsciously or nothave used since the time of the Assyrian city- state to impress or even intimidate. Ninth-century BCE emissaries to Nimrud, for example, would have encountered breathtaking examples of this ceremonial urbanism, in which the city itself is a stage for the ritual dramas of rulership that reinforce and confirm absolute power. Even from a dis- tance, as they approached the city, these strangers would have seen the vast fortifications and temple where the king acted as intermediary between citizen and god. Following a processional way, they would have passed sculpture extolling the power of the Assyrian armies and then come face-to-face with lamassus , extraordinary guardian-protectors of palaces and throne rooms. These creatures may combine the bearded head of a man, the powerful body of a lion or bull, the wings of an eagle, and the horned headdress of a god (fig. 2-1). Often lamassus have five legs, so that when seen from the front they appear immobile, but when viewed from the side they seem to be in motion, vigorously striding. The sheer size of the lamassus often twice a persons height symbolizes the strength of the ruler they defend. Their forceful forms and prominent placement contribute to an architecture of domination. The exquisite detailing of their beards, feathers, and jewels testifies to boundless wealth, which is power. These fantastic composite beasts inspire civic pride and fear. They are works of art with an unmistakable political mission in just one of many cultures that rose and fell in the ancient Near East. 2-1. Human-Headed Winged Lion (Lamassu) , gateway support from the palace of Assurnasirpal II, Mesopotamian, Assyria, Nimrud. 883859 BCE. Alabaster, height (3.11 m). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Gift of John D. Rockefeller, Jr., 1932 (32.143.1.-2) 10 3 1 @ 2 STO-02-026-051.I 4/6/04 1:45 PM Page 27 28 CHAPTER 2 Art of the Ancient Near East Well before farming communities arose in Europe, agriculture emerged in the ancient Near East in an area known as the Fertile Crescent. The crescent stretched along the Mediterranean coast through modern Jordan, Israel, Lebanon, and Syria, arched into central Turkey, and de- scended along the fertile plains between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers (ancient Mesopotamia, the land be- tween the rivers), sweeping through Iraq and a slice of western Iran to the Persian Gulf (Map 2-1)....
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This note was uploaded on 10/22/2008 for the course ARTS 315 taught by Professor Poche during the Fall '07 term at Holy Cross College.

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Ancient Near Eastern Art - STO-02-026-051.I 4/6/04 1:45 PM...

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