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Mesopotamia
Art of the Ancient
Near East
Assyria

Neo-Babylonia

Persia

Art of the Ancient Near East

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Art of the Ancient Near East > Mesopotamia

Mesopotamia
• The Mesopotamian Cultures
• Ceramics in Mesopotamia
• Sculpture in Mesopotamia
• Architecture in Mesopotamia

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Art of the Ancient Near East > Assyria

Assyria
• The Assyrian Culture
• Architecture in Assyria
• Artifacts of Assyria

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Art of the Ancient Near East > Neo-Babylonia

Neo-Babylonia
• Neo-Babylonia

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Art of the Ancient Near East > Persia

Persia
• Art of the Persian Empire
• Art and Architecture of the Achaemenid Empire

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Appendix
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Art of the Ancient Near East

Key terms
• alto relief A sculpture with significant projection from its background.
• aurochs An extinct European mammal, Bos primigenius, the ancestor of domestic cattle.
• bas relief A sculpture with minimal projection from its background.
• bas reliefs Sculptures that minimally project from their backgrounds.
• capital The topmost part of a column.
• casting A sculptural process in which molten material (usually metal) is poured into a mold, allowed to cool and harden, and
become a solid object.
• ceramics The craft of making objects from clay.
• Chalcolithic Also known as the Copper Age, a phase of the Bronze Age in which the addition of tin to copper to form bronze
during smelting remained yet unknown. The Copper Age was originally defined as a transition between the Neolithic and the
Bronze Age.
• colossal Extremely tall.
• Cuneiform One of the earliest known forms of written expression that began as a system of pictographs. It emerged in Sumer
around the 30th century BC, with predecessors reaching into the late 4th millennium (the Uruk IV period).
• cylinder seal A small object adorned with carved images of animals, writing, or both, used to sign official documents.
• fluted Having semicylindrical vertical grooves, either for decoration or to trim weight.

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Art of the Ancient Near East

• frieze Any sculptured or richly ornamented band in a building or, by extension, in rich pieces of furniture.
• glazed Having a vitreous coating whose primary purposes are decoration or protection.
• hieratic scale A visual method of marking the significance of a figure through its size. The more important a figure is, the larger
it appears.
• high relief A sculpture that projects significantly from its background, providing deep shadows.
• hypostyle Having a roof supported on a row of columns.
• immortal A member of an elite regiment of the Persian army.
• in the round Sculpture that stands freely, separate from a background.
• kiln A special kind of oven used for firing ceramic objects at high temperatures.
• lamassu A guardian figure consisting of the head of a human, massive wings, and the body of a lion or bull.
• load-bearing A form of architecture in which the walls are the structure's main source of support.
• lyre A hand-held stringed instrument resembling a small harp.
• mixed-media Artwork consisting of two or more different materials.

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Art of the Ancient Near East

• nomadic Mobile; moving from one place to another, never settling in one location for too long.
• Obelisk Four-sided monument that tapers with height and is usually capped by a pyramidal form.
• Obelisk A tall, square, tapered, stone monolith topped with a pyramidal point, frequently used as a monument.
• pilaster A rectangular column that projects partially from the wall to which it is attached; it gives the appearance of a support,
but is only for decoration.
• private sphere The home, or the domestic realm.
• public sphere The world outside the home.
• register A usually horizontal division of separate scenes in two- or three-dimensional art.
• register A usually horizontal band on an artwork that divides designs into logical patterns.
• relief A sculpture that projects from a background.
• relief A sculpture that projects from a background.
• rhyton A large ceremonial drinking cup fashioned in the shape of an animal's head.
• sculpture in the round A free-standing object that is usually meant to be viewed from multiple angles.

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Art of the Ancient Near East

• stacking and piling A form of load-bearing architecture in which the walls are thickest at the base and grow gradually thinner
toward the top.
• stylized Art that is not naturalistic, yet not distorted enough to be abstract.
• stylized Art that is not naturalistic but not distorted enough to be abstract.
• stylus A writing implement that incises lines into surfaces, such as clay.
• syncretic Art that bears the style(s), themes, or other attributes of more than one culture.
• terra cotta Clay that has been fired in a kiln.
• theocratic A form of government in which a deity is officially recognized as the civil ruler. Official policy is governed by officials
regarded as divinely guided, or is pursuant to the doctrine of a particular religion or religious group.
• throwing Shaping clay on a potter's wheel.
• votive An object left in temples or other religious locations for a variety of spiritual purposes.
• ziggurat A towering temple, similar to a stepped pyramid, that sat in the center of Mesopotamian city-states in honor to the local
pantheon.
• ziggurat A temple tower of the ancient Mesopotamian valley, having the form of a terraced pyramid of successively receding
stories.
• ziggurat A temple tower of the ancient Mesopotamian valley, having the form of a terraced pyramid of successively receding
stories.

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Art of the Ancient Near East

19th-century reconstruction of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon


Two lamassu sculptures in the round face each other in the foreground, while another reconstruction of the ziggurat Etemenanki dominates the
background.

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Art of the Ancient Near East

Akkadian pottery
A collection of Akkadian pottery on display at the Oriental Institute Museum, University of Chicago.

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Art of the Ancient Near East

Pottery from the Ur III period


A collection of pottery from the Ur III period on display at the Oriental Institute Museum, University of Chicago.

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_Oriental_Institute_Museum,_University_of_Chicago_-_DSC06984.JPG#/media/File:Ur_III_pottery_-_Oriental_Institute_Museum,_University_of_Chicago_-
Art of the Ancient Near East

Vase from the Late Ubaid Period, 4500-4000BCE


A pottery jar from the Late Ubaid Period on display in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

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Art of the Ancient Near East

Old Babylonian pottery


A collection of old Babylonian pottery on display at the Oriental Institute Museum, University of Chicago.

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Art of the Ancient Near East

Administrative texts in cuneiform writing


A collection of administrative texts in cuneiform writing on display at the Oriental Institute Museum, University of Chicago.

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_Oriental_Institute_Museum,_University_of_Chicago_-_DSC06995.JPG#/media/File:Ur_III_administrative_texts_-
Art of the Ancient Near East

Head of an Akkadian ruler, probably Sargon (2270-2215 BCE)


This portrait combines naturalistic and stylized facial features and was cast using the lost-wax method. The eye sockets were once inlaid.

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Art of the Ancient Near East

Uruk-period cylinder seal with stamped clay tablet (4100-3000 BCE)


An Uruk-period cylinder seal and stamped clay tablet featuring monstrous lions and lion-headed eagles, on display at the Louvre Museum.

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Art of the Ancient Near East

Uruk Head, also known as the Mask of Warka (c. 3000 BCE)
The eyes and eyebrows on this Uruk marble head are hollow to accommodate the original inlay.

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Art of the Ancient Near East

Votive figure of a male worshiper from Tell Asmar (2750-2600 BCE)


The votive figure—made from alabaster, shell, black limestone, and bitumen—depicts a male worshiper of Enil, a powerful Mesopotamian god.

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Art of the Ancient Near East

Bull's head from ceremonial lyre (c. 2600 BCE)


This lyre was found in the tomb of queen Pu-Abi. The lapis lazuli, shell, red limestone decoration, and the head of the bull are original. The bull's head is
covered with gold. The eyes are lapis lazuli and shell. The beard and hair are lapis lazuli. A lyre of the same type is shown on the Standard of Ur.

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Art of the Ancient Near East

Victory Stele of Naram-Sin (12th century BCE)


The king stands in the center of the stele wearing a horned headpiece. His dead and dying enemies surround him while his own soldiers passively
observe.

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Art of the Ancient Near East

Burney Relief (c. 1800-1750 BCE)


The Burney Relief is a Mesopotamian terra cotta plaque in high relief of the Old-Babylonian period, depicting a winged, nude, goddess-like figure with
bird's talons, flanked by owls, and perched upon supine lions. Apart from its distinctive iconography, the sculpture is noted for its high relief and relatively
large size, which suggests that is was used as a cult relief, which makes it a very rare survival from the period.

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Art of the Ancient Near East

Female statuette from Samarra (c. 6000 BCE)


A female statuette from Samarra on display at the Louvre Museum.

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Art of the Ancient Near East

Cylinder seal and stamped clay fragment from the tomb of Queen Puabi (c. 2600 BCE)
The queen sits on the top register, while the king sits on the bottom. Each figure is set apart from his or her subjects through hieratic scale.

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Art of the Ancient Near East

Chogha Zanbil ziggurat


The Chogha Zanbil ziggurat was built in 1250 BC by Untash-Napirisha, the king of Elam, to honor the Elamite god Inshushinak.

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Art of the Ancient Near East

Lamassu
This is only one example of how a lamassu would appear in Mesopotamian art. Other sculptures wear conical caps, face the front, or have the bodies of
lions. In literature, some lamassu assumed female form.

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Art of the Ancient Near East

Palace ofDur-Sharrukin
Round arches can be found in the central portal, as well as in each window on the right and left.

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Art of the Ancient Near East

Ubaid pottery

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Art of the Ancient Near East

Sumer
Map of the Cities of Sumer.

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Art of the Ancient Near East

Uruk trough
The unpainted surface of this trough marks it as a production of the Uruk period.

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Art of the Ancient Near East

Persepolis
A panoramic view of its ruins.

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Art of the Ancient Near East

An artist's reconstruction of a ziggurat

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Art of the Ancient Near East

Lamassu from Dur-Sharrukin

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Art of the Ancient Near East

Assyrian Lion Weights


These weights represented one of only two known systems of weights and measures in Mesopotamia at the time.

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Art of the Ancient Near East

Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III


This limestone obelisk contains 20 registers depicting conquered kings paying tribute to Assyrian power and celebrating the military campaigns of
Shalmaneser III.

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Art of the Ancient Near East

Statue of Ashurnasirpal II
The king's beard and hairstyle set him apart from his subjects. He holds a sickle as a form of mythological defense and a mace as a symbol of authority.

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Art of the Ancient Near East

Lamassu
Each lamassu figure faced a specific cardinal direction.

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Art of the Ancient Near East

Detail of bull relief on Ishtar Gate


An aurochs, or bull, above a flower ribbon.

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Art of the Ancient Near East

Uruk trough (3300-3000 BCE)


An Uruk trough on display at the British Museum.

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Art of the Ancient Near East

Ishtar Gate (c. 575 BCE)


The reconstruction of the Ishtar Gate in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin.

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Art of the Ancient Near East

Royal Nineveh carving


The king hunting lion from the North Palace, Nineveh, seen at the British Museum.

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Art of the Ancient Near East

Palace of Khorsabad (artist's reconstruction)

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Art of the Ancient Near East

Winged bull
The winged bull figure, known as a shedu or a lamassu, was a common guardian figure in palace architecture.

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Art of the Ancient Near East

Gate Guardians: The Man-Headed Lions


This Portal Guardian (Lamassu) from Nimrud guarded the entrance to the palace at Nimrud.

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Art of the Ancient Near East

Black Obelisk
The Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III commemorates the king's victorious campaigns from 859–824 BCE.

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Art of the Ancient Near East

Obelisk detail
Depiction of either Jehu son of Jehoshaphat son of Nimshi, or Jehu's ambassador, bowing before Shalmaneser III.

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Art of the Ancient Near East

Reconstruction of the palace of Sargon II at Dur-Sharrukin


Image shows the typical rectangular plan and massive fortified walls of Assyrian palace architecture.

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Art of the Ancient Near East

Early Persian Empire


In the Achaemenid period, the Persian Empire stretched across a vast swath of the Middle East into northern Africa and southern Europe.

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Art of the Ancient Near East

Gold rhyton (550–330 BCE)

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Art of the Ancient Near East

Gold chariot from Oxus Treasure, amalgamated from fragments of other objects in the trove

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Art of the Ancient Near East

Reconstruction of the Balawat Gates at the British Museum


Woman in photograph provides an idea of the scale of the gates.

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Art of the Ancient Near East

Bracelet from the Oxus Treasure


Indentations show where the bracelet once held enamel and stone inlay.

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Art of the Ancient Near East

Cyrus the Great as a winged guardian figure


This stylized relief of Cyrus borrows from the Egyptian style of depicting the human body and proclaims the king's ethnicity and rank in three languages.

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Wikimedia Commons. "360px-Pasargades_winged_man.jpg." CC BY-SA 3.0
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Art of the Ancient Near East

Tomb of Cyrus the Great


Syncretic attributes include the pyramidal base of the tomb.

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Wikimedia Commons. "320px-Tomb_of_Cyrus_the_Great.jpg." CC BY-SA 4.0
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Art of the Ancient Near East

Stele of the Vultures


Battle formations on a fragment of the Stele of the Vultures. Example of Sumerian pictorial cuneiform writing.

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Wikipedia. "Stele of Vultures detail 01." GNU FDL http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Stele_of_Vultures_detail_01.jpg View on Boundless.com
Art of the Ancient Near East

Ishtar Gate detail


An aurochs above a flower ribbon with missing tiles filled in (Ishtar Gate bas-relief, housed in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin). A prominent
characteristic of Neo-Babylonian art and architecture was the use of brilliantly colorful glazed bricks.

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Wikipedia. "Ish-tar Gate detail." CC BY-SA http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ish-tar_Gate_detail.jpg View on Boundless.com
Art of the Ancient Near East

Ishtar Gate at Pergamon Museum


This was reconstructed in Berlin in 1930, using materials excavated from the original build-site.

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Wikimedia. "Fotothek df ps 0002470 Innenräume ^ Ausstellungsgebäude." CC BY-SA
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Art of the Ancient Near East

Decorative frieze from the palace of Darius the Great at Susa, ca. 510 BCE
Decorative panels from the terra-cotta griffins' frieze. The vivid colors were preserved, thanks to the ruins being buried underground and protected from
the elements.

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Wikipedia. "Decorative motives2 griffins frieze Louvre Sb3323." Public domain
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Art of the Ancient Near East

Relief from Apadana Hall, Persepolis


Features 5th century BC carving of Persian and Median soldiers in traditional costume. Note the subtle differences in the clothing and style of the
soldiers on each side. The Medians are wearing rounded hats and boots.

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Wikipedia. "Persepolis The Persian Soldiers." CC BY-SA http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Persepolis_The_Persian_Soldiers.jpg View on Boundless.com
Art of the Ancient Near East

Attribution
• Wikipedia. "Xerxes I." CC BY-SA 3.0 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xerxes_I
• Wikipedia. "Alexander the Great." CC BY-SA 3.0 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_the_Great
• Wikipedia. "Achaemenid architecture." CC BY-SA 3.0 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Achaemenid_architecture
• Wiktionary. "immortal." CC BY-SA 3.0 http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/immortal
• Wiktionary. "hypostyle." CC BY-SA 3.0 http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/hypostyle
• Wikipedia. "Persepolis." CC BY-SA 3.0 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persepolis
• Wikipedia. "Achaemenid Empire." CC BY-SA 3.0 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Achaemenid_Empire
• Wiktionary. "frieze." CC BY-SA 3.0 http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/frieze
• Boundless Learning. "Boundless." CC BY-SA 3.0 http://www.boundless.com//art-history/definition/fluted
• Wikipedia. "Neo-Babylonian Empire." CC BY-SA 3.0 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neo-Babylonian_Empire
• Wikipedia. "Ishtar Gate." CC BY-SA 3.0 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ishtar_Gate
• Wikipedia. "Hanging Gardens of Babylon." CC BY-SA 3.0 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanging_Gardens_of_Babylon
• Wiktionary. "ziggurat." CC BY-SA 3.0 http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/ziggurat
• Boundless Learning. "Boundless." CC BY-SA 3.0 http://www.boundless.com//art-history/definition/glazed
• Wiktionary. "aurochs." CC BY-SA 3.0 http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/aurochs
• Wikipedia. "Ziggurat." CC BY-SA 3.0 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ziggurat
• Wikipedia. "Sennacherib." CC BY-SA 3.0 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sennacherib

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Art of the Ancient Near East

• Wikipedia. "Ishtar." CC BY-SA 3.0 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ishtar


• Wikipedia. "Kalhu." CC BY-SA 3.0 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalhu
• Wikipedia. "Palace of Khorsabad." Public domain https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sargon_II#/media/File:Palace_of_Khorsabad.png
• Wikipedia. "Nineveh." CC BY-SA 3.0 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nineveh
• Wikipedia. "Obelisk." CC BY-SA 3.0 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obelisk
• Wikipedia. "Dur-Sharrukin." CC BY-SA 3.0 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dur_Sharrukin
• Wikipedia. "Human headed winged bull profile." Public domain
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Human_headed_winged_bull_profile.jpg
• Wikipedia. "Neo-Assyrian Empire." CC BY-SA 3.0 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neo-Assyrian_Empire
• Wiktionary. "ziggurat." CC BY-SA 3.0 http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/ziggurat
• Wikipedia. "Sumer." CC BY-SA 3.0 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sumer
• Wikipedia. "Chalcolithic." CC BY-SA 3.0 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chalcolithic
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• Wikipedia. "Casting." CC BY-SA 3.0 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casting
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• Wikipedia. "Uruk Period." CC BY-SA 3.0 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uruk_period
• Wikipedia. "Ubaid Period." CC BY-SA 3.0 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ubaid_period
• Wikipedia. "Cuneiform." CC BY-SA 3.0 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuneiform_script#Akkadian_cuneiform
• Wikimedia Commons. "Akkadian Pottery ." CC0 1.0 Universal https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=40794666

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Art of the Ancient Near East

• Wikimedia Commons. "Ur III pottery." CC0 1.0 Universal https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=40794961


• Wikimedia Commons. "Babylonian Pottery." CC0 1.0 Universal https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=40809484
• Wikimedia Commons. "Ur III Cuneiform Tablets." CC0 1.0 Universal
https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=40794957
• Wikipedia. "Akkadian Empire." CC BY-SA 3.0 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akkadian_Empire
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• Wikipedia. "Inanna." CC BY-SA 3.0 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inanna
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• Wikipedia. "Burney Relief." CC BY-SA 3.0 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burney_Relief
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• Wikipedia. "Architecture of Mesopotamia." CC BY-SA 3.0 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Architecture_of_Mesopotamia
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• Wikipedia. "Sargon II." CC BY-SA 3.0 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sargon_II
• Wikipedia. "Ashurbanipal." CC BY-SA 3.0 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashurbanipal
• Wikipedia. "Ishtar Gate." CC BY-SA 3.0 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ishtar_Gate
• Wikipedia. "Assyria." CC BY-SA 3.0 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assyria
• Wikipedia. "Lamassu." CC BY-SA 3.0 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lamassu

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Art of the Ancient Near East

• Wikipedia. "Persepolis." CC BY-SA 3.0 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persepolis


• Wikipedia. "Sumer." CC BY-SA 3.0 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sumer
• Wikipedia. "Early Dynastic Period (Mesopotamia)." CC BY-SA 3.0
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Early_Dynastic_Period_(Mesopotamia)
• Wikispaces. "Mesopotamia." CC BY-SA 3.0 https://mesopotamiadiv1.wikispaces.com/Architecture
• Wikipedia. "Architecture of Mesopotamia." CC BY-SA 3.0 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Architecture_of_Mesopotamia
• Wikipedia. "Balawat Gates." CC BY-SA 3.0 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balawat_Gates
• Wikipedia. "Ashurnasirpal II." CC BY-SA 3.0 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashurnasirpal_II
• Wikipedia. "Sargon II." CC BY-SA 3.0 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sargon_II
• Wikipedia. "Dur-Sharrukin." CC BY-SA 3.0 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dur-Sharrukin
• Wikipedia. "Nimrud." CC BY-SA 3.0 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nimrud
• Wikipedia. "Assyria." CC BY-SA 3.0 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assyria
• Wikipedia . "Shalmaneser III." CC BY-SA 3.0 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shalmaneser_III
• Wiki Spaces. "Assyrian Art." CC BY-SA 3.0 https://mesopotamiadiv1.wikispaces.com/The+Art+of+Assyria
• Wikipedia. "Assyrian Lion Weights." CC BY-SA 3.0 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assyrian_lion_weights
• Wikipedia. "Shalmaneser V." CC BY-SA 3.0 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shalmaneser_V
• Wikipedia. "Statue of Ashurnasirpal II." CC BY-SA 3.0 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statue_of_Ashurnasirpal_II
• Wikipedia. "Lamassu." CC BY-SA 3.0 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lamassu
• Wikipedia. "Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III." CC BY-SA 3.0 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Obelisk_of_Shalmaneser_III
• Wikipedia. "Obelisk." CC BY-SA 3.0 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obelisk

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Art of the Ancient Near East

• Wikipedia. "Persian Empire." CC BY-SA 3.0 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persian_Empire


• Wikpedia. "Mycenaean Greece." CC BY-SA 3.0 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mycenaean_Greece
• Wikipedia. "Cyrus the Great." CC BY-SA 3.0 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyrus_the_Great
• Wikipedia. "Zoroastrianism." CC BY-SA 3.0 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zoroastrianism
• Wikipedia. "Rhyton." CC BY-SA 3.0 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhyton
• Wikipedia. "Achaemenid Empire." CC BY-SA 3.0 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Achaemenid_Empire
• Wikipedia. "Persian Art." CC BY-SA 3.0 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persian_art
• Wikipedia. "Oxus Treasure." CC BY-SA 3.0 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxus_Treasure

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