Mesopotamian Statue of Gudea - 3D VIew

Mesopotamian Statue of Gudea - 3D VIew

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3D Image

Upper part of standing figure with head; carved and polished mottled green dolerite; but neck restored. Gudea was the ruler of the city-state of Lagash. One of a dynasty of rulers in southern Mesopotamia who expanded their authority following the collapse of the Akkadian empire around 2190 BCE. Lagash was eventually absorbed into the kingdom of the Third Dynasty of Ur after 2100 BCE. Circa 2130 BCE. Dimensions Height: 78 centimetres Width: 50 centimetres Depth: 31 centimetres Weight: 150 kilograms.

Full record: Made by Daniel Pett with a Canon 700D, single chunk.

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The earliest architectural drawing isn’t found on paper, but draped on the lap of a thousand-year old stone statue of Gudea, one of the most prominent rulers of ancient Mesopotamia. The statue, known as “The architect with a plan”, shows the prince holding plans for Eninnu, a temple dedicated to the god of the region.

Ancient Egyptian architects scribbled on papyri and made models from clay, which archeologists presume were used as prototypes for real structures. These models are some of the oldest examples of early architectural planning, and were highly intricate–they had to be. After all, the ancient architects were pitching to gods. Pharaohs often commissioned massive palaces and temples as a symbol of the strength and prosperity of their rule.

Art History 2010

You are looking at a map of the “cradle of civilization,” located between the Tigris and Euphrates river, a region that is now part of Iran and Iraq. This is one of the earliest places where people gathered in large, complex, hierarchical societies with densely populated urban centers. This river valley, and the surrounding regions, are often referred to as “Mesopotamia”…which is a fancy Ancient Greek way of saying, “between the rivers.”

Take a look at the lower right-hand corner at the modern city of Basra. In Mesopotamia times, that whole area was under water. The Persian Gulf came all the way up to the very powerful and influential city of Ur.

Three big themes you will encounter in Mesopotamian art and architecture:

Three big ideas about Mesopotamia:

• Mesopotamia was a culturally diverse region, alternately dominated by peoples from different parts of the region.

• Mesopotamians had a writing system called cuneiform.

It started around 5,300 years ago with pictograms (drawings) from the city-state of Uruk. These pictograms evolved into the cuneiform script, whose symbols could represent either sounds or ideas. The cuneiform system was adapted for use with at least 10 different languages.

• Mesopotamian rulers usually claimed absolute power through a direct connection with the gods. We sometimes describe them as “priest-kings”

This image is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 License by Wikipedia user Phrood

Sumer was the southern area of Mesopotamia, made up of powerful city-states.

As important as it was in its own time, however, we didn’t even know of its existence until excavations began during the 1800s.

One type of object found in these excavations was the orant or “praying” figure. We can tell from the places they were found, as well as the inscriptions on some of the statues, that people commissioned craftsmen to carve these figures, then placed them inside temples. Their clasped hands and steady gazes expressed the prayerful devotion of the person who purchased the statue.

photo by Xuan Rosemanios, published under an Attribution Creative Commons License

Just for comparison, take a glance some pictures of “orant” figures from cultures around the world:

Not all of the pictures in this search are relevant, but you’ll be able to recognize the ones that are. How are these figures similar? How are they different from one another?

Uruk is sometimes called the “first city.” The article about Uruk in the Heilbrunn Timeline of Art history, posted by the Metropolitan Museum of Art writes, “By around 3200 B.C., the largest settlement in southern Mesopotamia, if not the world, was Uruk: a true city dominated by monumental mud-brick buildings decorated with mosaics of painted clay cones embedded in the walls, and extraordinary works of art.”

Inanna was a powerful Mesopotamian goddess whose domains included love, fertility and warfare. This was not as much of a contradition in Sumerian society as it might be in ours. It made sense to ancient peoples that gods could be both benevolent and destructive, as in the following lines from a translation of a Sumerian hymn to Inanna:

“To open up roads and paths, a place of peace for the journey, a companion for the weak, are yours, Inana. To keep paths and ways in good order, to shatter earth and to make it firm are yours, Inana…To turn a man into a woman and a woman into a man are yours, Inana. Desirability and arousal, goods and property are yours, Inana. Gain, profit, great wealth and greater wealth are yours, Inana. Gaining wealth and having success in wealth, financial loss and reduced wealth are yours, Inana. ”

According to legend, Uruk was founded by Gilgamesh, the hero of a Sumerian epic. Some of the artworks you see below portray heroic figures who may or may not be Gilgamesh–it’s hard for researchers to be sure. Nevertheless, you’ll get some insights about Mesopotamian concepts of heroism.

Historians believe that the first “priest-kings” emerged in Uruk. This statuette probably represents a priest king.

Below is another artifact from Uruk. Can you tell what it is and what it’s for?

Photo by Marie-Lan Nguyen, Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

As mentioned above, another powerful Mesopotamian city-state was Ur. As a port city, Ur enjoyed tremendous wealth from trade. Each Mesopotamian city had its own patron god, and Ur’s was the moon god Nammu. One of the priest kings, aptly named Ur-Nammu, erected an enormous temple to the moon god. In modern times, the temple was in ruins, but Saddam Hussein’s government restored many Mesopotamian monuments, including the Ziggurat of Ur*.

Ur is famous for its “Royal Cemetery,” also known less glamorously as the “Great Death Pit.” It’s called the Royal Cemetery because many important and wealthy people were entombed there. It’s called the “Great Death Pit” because many people and animals seem to have been entombed with them, perhaps to accompany and serve the rulers in the afterlife. Archaeologists from the British Museum and the University of Pennsylvania, excavating in the 1920s and 30s, found spectacular treasures there:

The “Ram in the Thicket” statues. (Actually, a pair of goats)

Around 2200 BCE, invaders from a northern kingdom called Akkad invaded and conquered Sumer. The most famous Akkadian works of art are portraits of rulers.

Photo by Rama, posted under an Attribution-Share Alike Creative Commons license

Photo by Scott Macleod Liddle (cc)

Hero Wrestling a Lion Winged Bull

photo by Rockman of Zymurgy, posted under a Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons license

Photo by Ruth Lozano, posted under an Attribution-NoDerivs Creative Commons license

Photo by Kit Logan, posted under an Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons license

The medieval times are often seen as a dark science-deprived period that didn’t bring many new innovations. However, from an architectural perspective, a lot of stuff was happening. Architecture drawing from this period features new features such as rib vaults, gargoyles and flying buttresses to divide the immense weight of cathedral roofs. During this period, architecture innovations made it possible to create higher and bigger cathedrals. One of the best examples of medieval Gothic architecture is the Notre Dame in Paris.

After the Renaissance period (AD 1500) architectural innovations and styles followed each other up rapidly. From revivals of Roman periods (classicism and Neoclassicism) all the way to styles that were never seen before, such as Art Deco and Art Nouveau. The profession of draftsman became much more of expressive art and as technology continued to develop, buildings became higher and bigger. In the early 20th century complete halls were filled with lines and lines of draftsmen (yes, it was mainly a male profession) as skyscrapers had to be designed in Manhattan, Chicago and other worldwide cities.

Press Release

Getty Villa Museum Presents Mesopotamia: Civilization Begins

At the Getty Villa

April 21 – August 16, 2021

Statue of Prince Gudea with a Vase of Flowing Water. Neo-Sumerian period, about 2120 B.C. Dolerite. Object: H: 62 × W: 25.6 × D: 20 cm (24 7/16 × 10 1/16 × 7 7/8 in.) Musée du Louvre, Département des Antiquités orientales. Image © Musée du Louvre, dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Raphaël Chipault / Art Resource, NY. VEX.2020.1.138

LOS ANGELES – The J. Paul Getty Museum presents the most important exhibition of Mesopotamian art ever assembled on the West Coast in Mesopotamia: Civilization Begins, on display April 21 – August 16, 2021 at the Getty Villa Museum. The works of art come from the collection of the Department of Near Eastern Antiquities at the Musée du Louvre, Paris, with select additional loans from the Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Organized by the Getty Museum and the Musée du Louvre, Paris, the exhibition covers the three millennia of Mesopotamian history, from the appearance of the first cities in about 3300 BC to Alexander the Great’s conquest of Babylon in 331 BC. On view will be many of the most renowned masterpieces of Mesopotamian art, including the silver cult vase of the Sumerian king Enmetena, the cylinder seal of the royal scribe Ibni-sharrum, statues of Gudea and other kings of Babylonia, and a glazed brick lion from the Ishtar Gate in Babylon.

“The ancient land of Mesopotamia, in modern-day Iraq, occupies a unique place in the history of human culture. It was there, around 3400-3000 BC, that the first major cities arose, boasting massive city walls, temples and palaces the first known writing on clay tablets, used by priestly bureaucracies to record agricultural activities sculptures of gods, worshippers, and rulers and many other remarkable cultural and scientific achievements,” says Timothy Potts, Director of the J. Paul Getty Museum, who curated the exhibition. “It is a great privilege to be able to bring to the Getty Villa a selection of the most important works of Mesopotamian art and other ancient cultural treasures from the Musée du Louvre’s unrivalled collections.”

“In addition to being the first collection of Mesopotamia art to be shown in a museum setting as early as 1847, the Louvre’s collection is emblematic of Mesopotamian archeology because of its exceptional scale, quality and history,” says Ariane Thomas, co-curator of the exhibition and curator of the Mesopotamian collections, Department of Near Eastern Antiquities, at the Musée du Louvre. “We are thrilled to share part of our collection of Mesopotamian masterpieces with the Getty Villa for this important exhibition. Visitors to the Getty can now explore this ancient world so close and yet so far from our own, through over 3000 years of Mesopotamia history.”

Home to some of the world’s most ancient civilizations, with a history that spans several millennia, Mesopotamia—the land "between the rivers” in modern-day Iraq—was inhabited by the ancient Sumerians, Akkadians, Babylonians, and Assyrians before being integrated into the empires of the Achaemenid Persian, Seleucid Greek, and Arsacid Parthian dynasties. Their many achievements include the creation of the earliest known writing (cuneiform), the formation of the first cities, the development of advanced astronomical and mathematical knowledge, and spectacular artistic and literary accomplishments.

The exhibition is organized into three thematic sections: First Cities, First Writings, and First Kings.

First Cities

Some of the first cities of Mesopotamia—notably Agade, Ur, Babylon, and Nineveh—became imperial capitals, renowned and feared throughout the ancient world. When Alexander the Great conquered Mesopotamia in 331 BC, Babylon was still regarded as the most spectacular of all cities.

The first settlements that developed into sizeable cities emerged in Sumer (southern Mesopotamia) in the late fourth millennium BC. The largest and most imposing of these early cities was Uruk (biblical Erech), which was the seat of the legendary Sumerian kings Enmerkar, Lugalbanda, and Gilgamesh, the last of whom was believed to have built Uruk’s mighty city wall of over five miles. Uruk and other Sumerian cities also boasted monumental temples and palaces decorated with statues of gods, kings, and worshippers, and were centers of innovation, learning, and artistic creation. The exhibition includes elements of architectural decoration, such as clay cone mosaics and bronze door decorations with scenes of military campaigns as well as relief sculptures and plaques glorifying the king and the gods from palaces and domestic contexts. In later periods, Babylonian temples and ceremonial spaces were elaborately decorated with images of protective gods and demons, such as the glazed tile panel of a striding lion from the Ishtar Gate of Babylon which is featured in the exhibition.

First Writing

The earliest known writing emerged in Sumer around 3400 BC, originating as a system of pictographs that evolved by 2600 BC into the characteristic wedge-shaped script we call cuneiform. Over the next 2,000 years, the use of cuneiform scripts spread to neighboring areas of Iran, Armenia, Syria, Turkey, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, and Egypt. Cuneiform eventually died out in the late first century AD, overtaken by the simpler scripts of Aramaic and Greek. The hundreds of thousands of Mesopotamian texts discovered through archaeology include royal inscriptions, legal codes, treaties, and literature, as well as receipts, contracts, letters, incantations and other everyday records that reveal the intimate details of Mesopotamian social, religious, and economic life to an extent unmatched by any other ancient culture. The vast majority of cuneiform writing was inscribed on clay tablets, many examples of which are in the exhibition.

Another highlight of the exhibition is an important group of stone cylinder seals that were impressed on clay tablets to serve like a signature. The craftsmanship and artistry of seals became especially sophisticated from the Akkadian period (2340–2150 BC) onward, their scenes ranging from everyday activities (banqueting, plowing, making pottery) to mythology, worship, rituals, and warfare, making them the largest and most important surviving body of Mesopotamian iconography. Despite their diminutive scale, these intricately carved seals are among the greatest works of Mesopotamian art.

First Kings

The third section of the exhibition examines the principal kingdoms and empires of Mesopotamia and the associated representations of their kings, conquests, court life, and royal families in art. According to Sumerian creation myths, kingship “descended from heaven,” and the gods determined the order in which cities and their rulers held sway. The ruler’s primary obligations were to lead in battle, to ensure the favor of the gods through temple building and regular offerings, to maintain the city walls and irrigation canals for agriculture, and to enact and enforce laws. Mesopotamian kings promulgated the earliest known law codes (most famously that of Hammurabi of Babylon), and political reforms motivated by a concern for social justice.

Enriched by tribute from conquered lands and active international trade, the cultures of Mesopotamia produced some of the greatest works of art that have come down to us from the ancient world: a magnificent silver cult-vessel from a Sumerian temple in Lagash, elaborately decorated with mythological scenes royal statues of kings of Agade, Ur, Babylon, and Girsu stone relief sculptures from the palaces of Assyria and colorful glazed brick reliefs of lions, bulls and dragons from Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylon.

For some 3,000 years, Mesopotamia remained the preeminent power of the Near East. In 539 BC Cyrus the Great captured Babylon and incorporated Mesopotamia into the Persian Empire, which in turn fell to the Macedonian king Alexander the Great in 331 BC. Periods of Greek and Parthian rule followed, and by about 100 AD native Mesopotamian culture had effectively come to an end.

Mesopotamia: Civilization Begins is curated by Timothy Potts, director of the J. Paul Getty Museum, and Ariane Thomas, curator of the Mesopotamian collections, Department of Near Eastern Antiquities, at the Musée du Louvre.

Exhibition organized by the Musée du Louvre, Paris, and the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles.

Getty is a leading global arts organization committed to the exhibition, conservation, and understanding of the world’s artistic and cultural heritage. Working collaboratively with partners around the globe, the Getty Foundation, Getty Conservation Institute, Getty Museum and Getty Research Institute are all dedicated to the greater understanding of the relationships between the world’s many cultures. The Los Angeles-based J. Paul Getty Trust and Getty programs share art, knowledge, and resources online at and welcome the public for free at the Getty Center and the Getty Villa.

The J. Paul Getty Museum collects Greek and Roman antiquities, European paintings, drawings, manuscripts, sculpture and decorative arts to 1900, as well as photographs from around the world to the present day. The Museum&rsquos mission is to display and interpret its collections, and present important loan exhibitions and publications for the enjoyment and education of visitors locally and internationally. This is supported by an active program of research, conservation, and public programs that seek to deepen our knowledge of and connection to works of art.

Mesopotamian Statue of Gudea - 3D VIew - History

Cuneiform Tablet-
made of clay.

Ziggurat of King Ur-Nammu
c2100 BCE

Statue of Gudea, prince of Lagash, c. 2120 BC

Statues from Tell Asmar,c2900-2600 BCE

(diorama in the Museum of Natural History NYC)

low relief (bas-relief)
high relief (haute relief)

low relief (bas-relief)
high relief (haute relief)

Statues from Tell Asmar,c2900-2600 BCE
limestone alabaster and gypsum (a sort of plaster), shell and black inlay

brick with facing of red fired clay, each level 25' to 50'

Established 5000BCE Most Active c. 3600-2100

Sir Leonard Woolley c1930

Reconstruction of the burial tomb of King Abargi or Queen Puabi
1,850 intact burials spread over an area approximately 70 by 55 meters

Standard of Ur2700 BCE wood, inlay shells and stone.

  • 2 processions: 1 of war, 1 of peace
  • value system
  • Edmund Leach's theory: we see the world in a binary way (good and bad, black and white, etc.)
  • semiosis of symbols
  • ideology

Ur Lyre of Queen Puabi
c2700 BCE
15" tall, wood, gold, lapis lazuli, and shell

Lyre of Queen Puabi of Ur, c2700 BCE 15" tall, wood, gold, lapis lazuli, and shell Mesopotamian (Sumerian) The title of this work is open to a bit of debate. Gardner's Art Through the Ages refers to this work as the "Bull headed lyre from the tomb of Puabi, Royal cemetery." Stokstad refers to it as "Bull Lyre from the tomb of King Abargi." You may use either one.

Bull From Altamira
c. 15,000-12,000 BC
bison length 77 in. (195 cm)
Altamira, Spain
  • Story of a king and a wildman
  • Enkidu is a wildman who becomes civilized after he comes to "the city" and after a trial of strength with Gilgamesh
  • The two soon become friends
  • They fight off monsters, including a bull sent by the goddess Ishtar
  • Enkidu later dies leaving Gilgamesh searching for immortality

Title Lyre of Queen Puabi

Region/Country Mesopotamia or Fertile Crescent or Middle East (UR)

period/style name Mesopotamian

approximate dates c. 2600 BCE

1125-1200 CE Ansazi
1300-Present Navajo, Hopi, Zuni,
1300?- Present Kwakiutl, Tlingit, Haida

600,000-10,000 European Sites: Altamira, Lascaux, Tuc Audoubert, La Madeleine, Willendorf

4,000-1,500 BCE Europe
6,000-3,500 BCE Ancient Near East Catal Huyuk
800BCE-100 CE North America Adena (Serpent Mound)

Mesopotamia or Mesopotamian Art
The Fertile Crescent also called the Ancient Near East: Sumerian, Akkadian, and Babylonian Art

Not Art History:
5000-3000 BCE The Copper Age
3,000-1,400 BCE Bronze Age
1400-1 BCE/CE Iron Age

Sargon is the first king of the Agade dynasty: Akkadian doctrine requires loyalty to him, not to one's city-state

Name Sharrum-kin, 'true/legitimate king' (which probably means he was really a usurper, later this pronounced Sharken preserved in bible as Sargon

King-list says he ruled 56 years, and that his father was a date-grower and cup-bearer to previous (local) Akkad king

cire perdue

cire perdue "lost wax process"

  • Naramsin is Sargon's grandson
  • Defines himself as a god, rather than as the agent of the gods
  • Uses title "king of the four quarters, king of the universe"
  • Rules a wide area claims to have destroyed Ebla
  • Stars represent friendly deities Ishtar and Shamash--perhaps originally 7, for the 7 main gods of the culture
  • Used star symbol before his name.

Stele of Naram Sin from Pir Huseyin 2254-2218 BCE Istanbul Archaeological Museums

Naramsin is Sargon's grandson,
rules 37 years--high point of dynasty

The statues of Gudea in the Louvre

Read the Text Version

The statues of Gudea PHOTO: MIKA NYMAN in the Louvre 19.03.2011 | [email protected] of Artifacts andTexts in Digital EnvironmentsMika Nyman, Director, Synapse Computing LtdThe Message of the Old Book Gudea, prince de Lagashin the New Environment Statue dite au ”vase jailissant”L'Instititut Finlandais en France Dédiée à la déesse GeshtinannaParis, 18–19.3.2011 Dolérite, vers 2120 av. J.-C. Tello, ancienne Girsu, Acq 1967 AO 22126Session:Ontologies of Culture and TEI(Text Encoding Initiative):Applications and Innovation

Excavations at Tello 19.03.2011 | [email protected] ancient Girsu by Ernest De Sarzec (1832-1901) Image source: Suter 2000, 72 Claudia E Suter Gudea’s temple building: the representation of an early Mesopotamian ruler in text and image. Cuneiform Monographs 17, Styx Publications: Groningen, 2000.

The Gudea Corpus 19.03.2011 | [email protected] Some 2600 objects Inscribed objects from buildings Stela fragments The Gudea cylinders Inscribed statuesImage source: Suter 2000, 53 Gudea Basin SV. 7

70). commemorate royal deeds in imagery and text 19.03.2011 | [email protected] Berlin Reconstruction of Gudea Stela Top ST.1-2. Image source: Suter 2000, 168

The Gudea Cylinders . about the Construction of the Temple EninnuCylinder A (61 x 32 cm), 30 columns of textCylinder B (56 x 33 cm), 24 columns of text1363 cases (”lines”) of textRAMESSOS / WIKIMEDIA COMMONS 19.03.2011 | [email protected]

The Gudea Cylinders 19.03.2011 | [email protected] Hand copied texts François Thureau- Dangin, Les cylindres de Goudea, 1925

Minor Sources2445 Artifacts Commissioned by Gudea2075 Clay Nails203 Brick Stones20 Door Sockets1 Stair Step41 Foundation Tablets 19.03.2011 | [email protected] Foundation Figurines represìnting a Knìeling God5 Foundation Figurines represìnting a Basket Carrier3 Foundation Figurines represìnting a Bull2 Gate Lions3 Door Plaques5 Pedestals or Stands13 Stone Vessels12 Mace Heads21 Statues representing Gudea1 CylinderSeal7 Unidentified Objects Foundation Figurine (FK.3)Image source: Suter 2000, 53 Basket Carrier

Contextualization . occurs continuously and involuntarilyCollections du Louvre, Antiquités orientales, Salle 2, MésopotamieGudea, Prince de Lagash, Pays de Sumer, 2350 à 2000 av. JC environPHOTO: MIKA NYMAN 19.03.2011 | [email protected]

Contextualization. a discussion at a statue of Gudea Me: [taking photographs] Man: [approaces, says] ”This is our country.” Me: ”Are you from Iraq?” Man: ”Yes.” Me: ”Congratulations!”PHOTO: MIKA NYMAN 19.03.2011 | [email protected], prince de Lagash AO 1Statue dite ”colossale”Dédiée au dieu NingirsuDioriteVers 2120 av. J.-C.Fouilles de Ernest de Sarzec 1881

The Great Museum 19.03.2011 | [email protected] Paradox: museum objects become the contextThe world is one great museum, where each building, each fieldand river and railroad contains hints about that countrys past aslong as the viewer knows what he is looking at. Here and there inthis great museum there are institutions that we call museums.Their main task is to help people understand the great museum.Their justification comes from watching outwards – not inwards.Quote adapted from Kenneth Hudson (1916-1999)Chair for the European museum of the year board, Copenhagen 1993.Quote communicated by professor Janne Vilkuna, University of Jyväskylä, Finland.

Disciplines of Heritage Institutions 19.03.2011 | [email protected] – working with all types of sources Tomislav Šola, University of Zagreb Graph provided by professor Janne Vilkuna, University of Jyväskylä, Finland Memento: Contextualization occurs continuously and involontarily

The Cognitive Aspect of Contextualization Cycles of Creation and Production Neural RepresentationsUMWELT Mental Sign Rule Representations Individual Code Cultural 19.03.2011 | [email protected] INNENWELT Schemata Schemata Perception Object ConceptSensation Script Activity Event Cultural Thing Expressions Individual Expressions

Refering to whole works . using inventory numbers as identifiers AO 1 AO 22126 AO 9504CA, CB AO 20164 AO 29155 19.03.2011 | [email protected] AO 6 AO 5Collections du Louvre AO 13 AO 8Antiquités orientales AO 12 AO 4Salle 2, Mésopotamie AO 2Gudea, Prince de Lagash AO 3293 AO 4106 AO 7 AO 3CIDOC/ICOM recommendation for Linked DataURIs for ”non-information resources”should be based on museum inventory numbersExample:

Refering to features/parts of works . requires mark-up of borders – 1D/2D/3D Some options  Verbal description, e.g. ”damaged right arm of AO7”  Mark-up of an image  3D scanning of the object and making the data publicly available for referencing Gudea, prince de Lagash Statue dite \"à l'épaule brisé\" dédiée au dieu Ningirsu Diorite Vers 2120 av. J.-C. Tello, ancienne Girsu AO 7PHOTO: MIKA NYMAN 19.03.2011 | [email protected]

The Gudea CylindersThe Eletronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature 19.03.2011 | [email protected]

The Gudea CylindersThe Eletronic Text Corpus of Sumerian Literature 19.03.2011 | [email protected]

Directions of Investigation From objects to artificial contextsContent Container Context 3D OBJECT Contextual 19.03.2011 | [email protected] Modelling ModellingCONCEPTUAL FEATURES, PHYSICAL CONCEPTUAL SOCIAL, CONTENT PARTS CONTEXT CONTEXT HISTORICAL, CULTURAL CONTEXT FORMAL/ARTIFICIAL CONTEXTS Metadata Tricotomy Content – Container – Context grounded in based on Tiina Ison's presentation ontologies

CIDOC CRM Container – Content DualityE18 Physical E28 Conceptual Thing ObjectE22 Man-Made E25 Man-Made [ Statue ] E33 Linguistic Object Feature Object © MARIE-LAN NGUYEN/WIKIMEDIA COMMONSContainer 19.03.2011 | [email protected] Physical Conceptual Context ContextGudea, prince de Lagash AO 3293Statue assise dédiée AO 4108au dieu NingishzidaDioriteVers 2120 av. J.-C.Tello, ancienne GirsuFouilles de E. de Sarzed (tête)Fouilles G. Cros, 1903 (corps)

Layers of Sources From Clay Tablets to Digital Systems Linked Data EventsBuilding Writing Excavating Publishing Digital 19.03.2011 | [email protected] as Print Publishing Timeline ETCSLEninnu Cyl A&B de Sarzec Thureau- Dangin Works Ernest de Sarzec (1832-1901), explorateur de Tello, ancienne Linked Girsu Data François Thureau-Dangin (1872-1933), assyriologue, archéologue et épigraphiste

Gudea, ruler of the ancient city of Lagash in Southern Mesopotamia (modern-day Al-Hiba in Iraq) from about 2144 to 2124 BC, was a great devotee of the war god Ningirsu and expended great energy and wealth on rebuilding his temple. In the foundations, Gudea had buried a number of clay tablets with cuneiform inscriptions giving an account of his activities. Discovered in the late nineteenth century, these tablets give an indication of the ruler’s moods and feelings and even describe the dreams he dreamed while sleeping in the temple. Four of them are mentioned below.

Ningirsu gives instructions for the rebuilding of the temple:


In the dream was a man, who was as huge as heaven, as huge as earth. As to his upper part he was a god, as to his wings he was the Imdugud bird, as to his lower part he was the hurricane. At his right and left there crouched a lion. He commanded me to build a temple, but I did not fully understand him…A second hero was present. He had his arms bent and held a slab of lapis lazuli in his hands and set down thereon the ground-plan of the temple to be built. He put before me the hod, ceremonially purified, arranged the brick-mold for me, similarly purified, and fixed in it the ‘brick of decision of fate’.

Ningirsu promises to summon a humid wind bringing life-giving rain so that prosperity will accompany the laying of the temple’s foundations:

All the great fields will bear for thee. Dykes and canals will swell for thee where the water is not wont to rise to high ground it will rise for thee.

The molding of the first brick was the responsibility of the king and Gudea describes how he took up the ‘purified head-pad’ and the brick-mold for the ‘brick of decision of fate’ and

…poured luck-bringing water into the frame of the mold While he did so drums were beaten. He smeared the mold with honey, best quality oil, fine best quality oil He raised the holy hod, went to the mold, Gudea worked the mud in the mold, Performed completely the proper rites, Splendidly brought into being the brick for the temple.

The new temple having been completed, was consecrated. Gudea describes how he went to the god and prayed to him:

My King, Ningirsu, Lord who restrains the wild fold-waters, Lord whose word is supreme beyond everything, Son of Enlil, the hero, you have given me orders, I have truly fulfilled them for you, O Ningirsu, I have built your temple for you, May you enter therein in joy.

As mentioned in H. W. F. Saggs, The Greatness that was Babylon (1962) [Translation slightly adapted.]

One of the 18 Statues of Gudea, a ruler around 2090 BC by User “Marie-Lan Nguyen”, CC BY 2.5, Wikipedia

Course aims

  • This course aims to introduce the archaeological and textual evidence for the world's earliest civilization and explore how it can be reconstructed to provide a rounded picture of Sumerian life, death and beliefs for those with little or no previous knowledge of the subject.
  • Gain an understanding of the social and cultural developments in Mesopotamia during the period 3500-2000 BC.
  • Become familiar with the key evidence and understand how it may be used to reconstruct Sumerian society.
  • Recognise that there are gaps in our knowledge.
  • Develop skills of observation and analysis.
  • Appreciate the legacy of Sumerian civilization in the modern world.
  • Use the course as a basis for further study of Mesopotamian history and civilizations.


My name is Megan Gustafson, I am sophomore with no major yet. I just returned to school last winter after a 4 year break, which was spent traveling and building my lovely family. I have two children Opal, 3 years and Aristotle, “Ari”, 9 months. My loving husband Tyler is also in this course. We are both into music, gardening and hope to build a yurt within the next year or so. I am interested in art but don’t have much experience, just curiosity. I love yoga and am hoping to get my teaching certificate in the near future. Thats it for now.