A walled city. The temple on top of a ziggurat and the surrounding temple complex reflected the importance of religion in daily life; the temple also served as the administrative and economic center for the city, thus representing both religious and secular functionalities.
both religious and secular functionalities.
the community rather than the family assumes the function of defense. Other activities such as manufacturing or trade or administration become institutionalized thus city-state gained a unique and permanent identity.
Cities – by 3000 BCE, the Sumerians had at least a dozen fair-sized cities.
Specialized Workers: Development of agriculture enabled specialization. More complex society based on community not individual or family. Invention of the city-state.
Rulers and Priests directed communal activities. Overhead: The ongoing administrativeexpensesof abusinesswhich cannot be attributed to any specificbusiness activity, but are still necessary for the business to function.Question workers will ask themselves in an ANE city-state: Why do I need to sweat working in the field/shop/studio and the priests and rulers don’t?
Today the desert sands completely cover what was once a thriving city (cautionary example of overuse of natural resources). But, in ancient times some 4,000 years ago, Ur was surrounded not by desert but by irrigated fields.
Fields of grain
Narrow unpaved streets
Ur’s temple complex
ZIGGURAT - solid, stepped platform, sometimes with several levels. A ramp led to the top of the ziggurat which usually held a temple.
Ziggurats were constructed from sun-dried mud bricks because stone was not readily available for building.
Stylistic conventions of Sumerian Art: rigidly frontal symmetry, abnormally large eyes, and tightly clasped hands. Uni-brow. Sumerian relief sculpture uses the convention of showing figures in profile with shoulders full frontal, and the poses are regularized and repeated. Eyes are large, and tiny hands are often clasped. Shows importance of religion and devotion in society.
Alternating ewes and rams (female/male):fertility, good crops and herds
Naked men carrying jars and baskets overflowing
Votive offering: gift of gratitude to deity in thanks or to honor a vow
Top is tallest register (hierarchy of scale) with Inanna (or Priestess) wearing horns receiving offerings from nude male. Next to goddess is male (partial) that may be king-priest. Maybe a symbolic marriage. Exalt king.
all body parts are shown via composite of frontal and profile views.
Conceptual, captures idea of body not fleeting aspects of figure
Second register – infantry advances from left to right. Seven soldiers wear copper helmets and short tunics made of wool.
Note their prisoners on the right – the army of Ur forces them to walk naked as a sign of humiliation
In the top register, the figure of the ruler is taller than everyone else. This is called HIERARCHICAL SCALE. HIERARCHICAL SCALE denotes status by making important figures larger and more prominent than less important figures.
The two processions converge on the rule of Ur – he is coming to survey the prisoners.
PEACE SIDE of the Standard of Ur
Bottom register shows people of Ur or conquered people carrying goods with teams of onagers (wild Asian ass)
Second register depicts more people walking with wooly rams (good for textiles), carrying fish (Tigris and Euphrates Rivers), and walking with livestock
Top register depicts a royal banquet with the king and his nobles. It still contains HIERARCHICAL SCALE. It has interesting details such as animal hoofed chairs. A singer and musician in the right corner entertain the banqueters.
Discussion Question: What message(s) does the Standard of Ur convey? How does it convey its message(s)?
Notice the bright blue beard – this is made from a stone known as lapis luzuli
Notice the mosaic panel below the bull’s head
The panel is divided into REGISTERS
Contains COMPOSITE CREATURES – figures that blend human and animal features – composite features are common in the ancient world. Shown in profile
Top register is heraldic composition: symmetrical on either side of central figure
Man in top register and scorpion man shown in COMPOSITE VIEW (note different than composite creature).Conceptual representation, shows all parts and in most recognizable and characteristic way. A convention of representation in which part of a figure is shown in profile and another part of the same figure is shown frontally; also called twisted perspective.
Feast is a parody of kind of feast in Standard or Ur or creatures in the land of the dead? represents heraldic composition and burlesquing a regal feast
7. Cylinder Seals
prized possessions indicating status and served as devices to identify ownership and prevent unauthorized use as well as a “signature”.
Stamps or Cylinders (lapis lazuli)
Used for ID
Contain useful information about dress and social norms
When stamped or rolled into wet clay creates raised impression (relief)