Shared Flashcard Set


Ancient Near Eastern Art
From the Barron's Review Book
Art History
11th Grade

Additional Art History Flashcards





Tell Asmar Statues

Sumerian, c. 2700 BCE, limestone, alabaster, and gypsum

  • Figures are of different heights, denoting hierarchy of scale
  • hands are folded in gesture of prayer
  • huge eyes in awe, spellbound, perhaps staring at the deity
  • men: bare upper chest; skirt from waist down; beard flows in ripple patterns
  • women: dress draped over one shoulder
  • arms and feet cut away
  • pinkie in a spiral; chin a wedge shape; ear a double volute
  • inscribed on back: "it offers prayers"
  • figures represent mortals, placed in a temple and praying - perhaps to the god Abu

Standard of Ur

Sumerian, c. 2600 BCE, panel inlayed with shell, lapis lazuli, and limestone

  • two sides; war side and peace side; may have been two halves of a narrative; early example of a historical narrative
  • perhaps used as a part of soundbox for a musical instrument
  • war side: SUmerian king half a head taller, has descended from his chariot to inspect captives brought before him, some debased by their nakedness; chariots advance over the dead in lowest register
  • figures have broad frontal shoulders, body in profile
  • emphasized eyes, eyebrows, ears


Sumerian, c. 2600 BCE, wood with inlay of gold, shell and lapis lazuli

  • Lyre has a bull's head
  • Four panels on side: Top - Sumerian wrsetling two man-headed bulls; 2nd level - Wolf carries a table with animal parts, preparing for a ceremony, lion bears wine, jug, cup; 3rd level - donkey plays a bull-harp; bear dances; seated fox plays a rattle; 4th level - jackal waves rattles; scorpion man
  • Animals in profile; people have frontal shoulders


Sumerian, c. 2100 BCE, Ur, Iraq

  • Mud-brick building on a colossal scale
  • Buttresses spaced across the surface to create a light and shadow pattern
  • Whitewash used to disguise the mud appearance, perhaps the holes in the surface were for flags or banners to animate the facade
  • Tapers outward so that rainwater washes off
  • Temple on top was small, set back, and removed from the populace
  • Entire form resembles a mountain
  • Four corners oriented to the compass
  • Three large staircases lead to the upper story entrance from three different directions; guardhouse at point where the staircases meet
  • Dedicated to the moon god Nanna


Sumerian, c. 2100 BCE, dolerite

  • Folded hands; long, fine fingers
  • Right arm bare
  • Broad shoulders, narrow waist, simple contours
  • Sense of calm, peaceful
  • Diorite, an expensive stone proclaims the wealth of the owner and importance of the subject



Victory Stele of Naram-Sin

Akkadian, 2254-2218 BCE, sandstone

  • Naram-Sin deifies himself as the composition leads him up the mountain to the heavens, indicated by the hree stars above him
  • Victory blessed by the gods, represented as suns, but he acts independently
  • King wears horned crown of divinity, bow in one hand, arrow in the other, battle axe in hollow of arm
  • Defeated soldiers beg for mercy, one with a lance through his throat, another thrown over the side of the mountian
  • Spatial isolation of king, hierarchy of scale
  • Figures are in composite views
  • Depicts his victory over the Lullubi

Stele of Hammurabi

Babylonian, c. 1780 BCE, basalt

  • Contains one of the earliest law codes ever written
  • Sun god, Shamash, enthroned on a ziggurat and handing Hammurabi a rope, a ring, and a rod of kingship
  • Hammurabi with a speaking/greeting gesture
  • Shamash: frontal and profile at the same time, headress in profile; rays (wings?) from behind his shoulder
  • Shamash's beard is fuller than Hammurabi's 
  • They stare at one another directly, even though their shoulders are frontal; composite views
  • 300 Law entries placed below the grouping, symbolically given from Shamash himself to Hammurabi

Ishtar Gate

Babylonian, c. 575 BCE, glazed brick

  • Glazed brick covers mud walls of the city
  • Animals guard the entrance to the city
  • Lions sacred to the goddess Ishtar
  • Crenellations give a warlike appearance to gate
  • Reconstructed in Berlin from the ruins in Babylon

Lion Gate

Hittite, c. 1400 BCE

  • Gates to the city
  • Guardian lions
  • Huge boulders used in construction of city, cf. Mesopotamian mud-brick
  • Massive impression

Palace of Sargon

Assyrian, 720-705 BCE

  • City on a platfrom 50-feet high
  • Made of mud-brick
  • Contains a ziggurat
  • Huge palace complex: 25 acres, 30 courtyards, 200 rooms


Assyrian, c. 700 BCE, limestone

  • Human-headed animal guardian figures
  • Winged
  • 5 legs; when seen from front seems to be standing at attention; when seen from side, seems to be walking by you as you walk by it
  • Meant to ward off enemies both visible and invisible

Lion Hunt

Assyrian, c. 640 BCE, limestone

  • Among the oldest surviving narratives in art
  • Bold contours
  • Emotions in animals, not humans
  • Narrative takes place on a projecting ledge acting as a ground line
  • Lion: representative of the most fearsome of beasts, domination by the king as an act of power over nature

Palace at Persepolis

Persian, c. 500 BCE

  • Built by Darius I and Xerxes I; destroyed by Alexander the Great
  • Built not so much as a complex of palaces but rather as a seat for spectacular receptions and festivals
  • Built on artificial terraces, as is most Mesopotamian architecture
  • Mud-brick with stone facing
  • Giant lamassu gates
  • Built to be the center of elaborate ceremonies
  • Relief sculptures depict delegations from all parts of the empire bringing gifts to be stored in the local treasurey; Darius selected this central location in Persia to ensure protection of the treasury
  • Audience hall: apadana, had 36 columns covered by a wooden roof; held thousands of people; used for the king's receptions; stairways adorned with reliefs of the New Year's festival and a procession of representatives of 23 subject nations
  • Columns had a bell-shaped base that is an inverted lotus blossom, captials are bulls or lions
  • Carved into the stairs are the Immortals, the King's Guard, who were so-called because they always numbered 10,000

Palace of Shapur 

Persian, c. 250 CE

  • Built by Sassanian Persian rulers
  • Brick audience hall
  • Influence of Roman architecture in the barrel vault and arches
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