Why Mesopotamia Matters: Masterpieces of Ancient Art
Dr. Diana McDonald, Ph.D.
September 10, 2017
Some of the earliest, greatest and most enduring artworks were created as early as 5,000 years ago in the “Cradle of Civilization,” Mesopotamia – the land between two rivers, now modern day Iraq. The world’s first cities, the earliest agriculture and domestication of animals, sparked monumental art of stone, gold, and other materials, all created in the harsh desert landscape. While most of us cannot travel to the war-torn Middle East, we can take a virtual tour of the most stunning works, many sadly now destroyed.
We’ll look at what was possibly the world’s first city, Uruk, the home of the legendary hero Gilgamesh (also known as the Bibical Erech) and works from the Royal Cemetery at Ur – which was filled with spectacular finds, gold and lapis lazuli sculptures like the famous “Ram in a Thicket” as well as the crushed skeletons of the sacrificed court attendants in their fantastic jewels. Later, the mighty Assyrians created a vast empire using art to proclaim their greatness, in colossal stone sculptures of guardian bulls and lions as well as reliefs depicting actual battles known from history and the “bible written in stone’ as later archaeologists termed the reliefs.
Dr. Diana McDonald is an art historian and lecturer, retired from Boston College. She earned her B.A. in Fine Arts from Harvard University and Ph.D. from Columbia University, where she concentrated in ancient Near Eastern and Pre-Columbian art. She worked at The Metropolitan Museum in New York, the Indonesian National Museum in Jakarta, and other preeminent organizations. She wrote nine essays in the book The Looting of the Iraq Museum, Baghdad: The Lost Legacy of Ancient Mesopotamia in 2005, and she is the author of numerous articles and reviews.
Supported by Albuquerque City Council, Haverland Carter Lifestyle Group, and Sandia Laboratory Federal Credit Union