Sumer (3000 – 2300 B.C.)

Bust of a goddess (2150 - 2100 BC)
Bust of a goddess (2150 – 2100 BC)

The Sumerians invented the city and writing. Their art consisted of statues and painting in comic strip style narratives. Human eyes are always made extremely large and, in paintings, are always seen from the front. Human figures are stylised but animals are more natural. Pictures of struggles between animals and monsters represent the struggle between the natural and the supernatural.

 

Akkad (2350 – 1900 B.C.)

Sargon of Akkad (ca 2300 BC)
Sargon of Akkad (ca 2300 BC)

Akkadian art derives from Summerian. Human figures are more natural.

Because stone was rare in the dessert, statues were distorted with the head being relatively large and the (less important) torso being compacted.
 

Babylon (1900 – 1600 B.C.)

Stele of Shamshi-Adad V
Stele of Shamshi-Adad V

The first Babylonian Empire was established by Hammurabi who built several temples and stele.

 

Assyria (1150 – 612 B.C.)

Relief showing an Assyrian battering ram
Relief showing an Assyrian battering ram

The Assyrians mainly produced relief sculptures of narrative scenes.

 

Neo-Babylonian (612 – 538 B.C.)

Lion on the Ishtar Gate
Lion on the Ishtar Gate

A brief resurgence of Babylonian culture produced some great architectural works including the Hanging Gardens and the Temple of Bel (possibly, the Biblical Tower of Babel). Babylonian art was usually part of architecture, for example, guardian beasts at the entrance to buildings.

 

Persian (538 – 331 B.C.)

Sasanian statue
Sasanian statue

 

Mesopotamian antiques available now (at eBay US)

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