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Mesopotamian Art
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Mesopotamian art can be divided into several periods. Several of these periods have been defined in other places (Akkadian Art, Babylonian Art, Assyrian Art). For purposes of this discussion, the Mesopotamian art section will cover Sumerian art. However, all others mentioned are part of the general category of Mesopotamian art, because they all developed between the land of the two rivers Tigris and Euphrates.

The Sumerians ruled Southern Mesopotamia during the historical period of 2900-2360 B.C. Their original home is unknown, but it is believed they came from the highlands and migrated into Mesopotamia several centuries earlier. Their major contribution to the art of the area was in the creation of a new style that was more free than earlier periods, a style that combined discipline and integration. There were two main types of temples: one featured a block of rooms with a cult or organizing room being the largest. The other has the cult room combined with a courtyard as the organizing center, with the cult room being pushed off to the side and the smaller rooms grouped around the courtyard. Some of their temples were built on a long platform; others on a high terrace surrounded by a wall with two towers at the entrance. Strong walls with deep buttresses surrounded their towns, with streets parallel or at right angles. Organization figured prominently in Sumerian sculpture as well. Precise figures featured hard, geometric schemes, with straight lines, parts fitting consistently, and faulty proportioned faces.

More naturalistic and refined sculpture was done later. Bodily proportions became closer to those of nature, features became softer and more realistic, and tastes of mobility were foreshadowed. There are few remaining reliefs of the Sumerian period. In one, the "Stele of the Vultures", there are several registers. One shows a god holding a net with his enemies captured; another shows vultures attacking slain bodies in war. The artist realistically rendered his subjects, but depth and three dimensionality are not apparent.

 
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