V55.0501 World Cultures/Ancient Near East & Egypt
Prof. R. Wright, Fall 2003

RECITATION 4: Literary insight into material culture
This webpage contains images and short identifications of artifacts that you may use in your first paper.  When you write your paper, be sure to identify your artifact by number, or by name.


1.  Limestone cup from Uruk: Ht 12.7 cm. 3,100-3,000 BCE, Uruk in Southern Iraq (Photo from pg. 53 of D. Collon's 1995 Ancient Near Eastern Art).

The figure on the front wears only a belt and has his curled hair parted in the center. He embraces a bull on either side of his torso, his arm around their neck. On the back of each bull stands a large bird.


2. Chlorite vessel found at Khafajeh: Ht 11.5 cm. 2,600 BCE, Khafajeh, north-east of Baghdad (Photo from pg. 69 of D. Collon's 1995 Ancient Near Eastern Art).

 The vessel was made somewhere east of Baghdad, possibly in Iran, and transported to Khafajeh where it was found. At the left of the panel, a man wearing a net skirt is kneeling on a pair of Zebus who are standing back to back. He is holding streams of water showering down onto vegetables and a palm tree. The wavy line above his head may be rain clouds, they share the sky with a crescent moon and a rosette sun. The second figure is also depicted with a rosette at his shoulder.  He has a snake in each hand and is standing between two felines, both turned in his direction. At the right of the panel, a bull is being attacked by a large bird (eagle) and a lion while another small animal faces the other way.  This image was created by rotating the straight sided vessel for the exposure of the photograph.


3. Cylinder seal: Ht. 3.6 cm. 2,220 - 2,159 BCE, Mesopotamia (Photo from pg. 216 of J. Aruz and R. Wallenfels (eds.) 2003  Art of the First Cities).

This Akkadian example of a seal impression shows a hero wrestling with a water buffalo (left) and a bull-man struggling with a lion (right). The figures are separated by a tree on a mountain.  The hero faces the viewer and dominates the scene. Akkadian seals tend to be arranged into clusters of figures that display physical tension in scenes of active combat.


4.  Votive statues from Tell Asmar: Ht (tallest figure) 72 cm. 2,700 BCE, Tell Asmar, Mesopotamia (Photo from pg. 61 of D. Collon's 1995 Ancient Near Eastern Art).

In this collection, found in the Abu Temple, there are eight bearded standing male figures, one clean-shaven standing male, one kneeling male, and two standing females.  All of the figures display large wide open eyes, many of which are inlaid.  Additionally, some of the figure's eyebrows are also inlaid.  Males wear fringed skirts and belts and females wear robes with a cloak draped over the left shoulder.  All of the figures hold their hands before them, many are clasping a cup.  The figures are thought to represent worshippers.


5.  Detail from "Great Lyre" from Ur: Ht 33 cm. 2550 - 2400 BCE, royal tomb at Ur (Photo from pg. 106 of J. Aruz and R. Wallenfels (eds.) 2003  Art of the First Cities).

The front panel of the sound box from the so-called Great Lyre was recovered among grave goods in the royal tomb at Ur.  The panel is made of shell and bitumen and is divided into four registers.  The top panel is of a male embracing two human headed bulls, the three lower panels show scenes from a funerary banquet in which animals play the roles normally assumed by humans.


6. Warka vase, Uruk: 3000 BCE, Uruk in Southern Iraq (Photo from pg. 61 of M. Roaf's Cultural Atlans of Mesopotamia and the Ancient Near East).

This vase is covered with scenes of offerings for the goddess Inanna.  She and the King are shown in the top register.


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