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    • #5750
      jlchamberlain
      Keymaster

       

       How did the rulers of different Mesopotamian cultures visually show their power and legitimize their right to rule? Use examples.

      Additionally, how have some of these same sites and monuments been used by modern political forces.

    • #6152
      Erica Kingkade
      Participant

      The various different rulers of Mesopotamia used art and architecture to display their power. This is shown by commissioning large and ornate structures to showcase their wealth and authority given to them by the Gods. Assurnasirpall II killing lions was a way for Assurnaispall of Assyria assert his bravery, power and authority. The depiction of killing a lion was a symbolic way to show the rulers power over the mighty creature which was revered for its strength. Nebuchadnessar II also did this when he constructed the Ishtar Gate. This gate was the ceremonial entrance to Babbylon and was constructed using bricks that were inlaid with rare stones called lapis lazuli. In a more modern time Saddam Hussein tried to recreate this gate as a showcase of his own power and authority.

    • #6155
      Valene
      Participant

      These ancient cultures seemed to often use religion and supposedly god given appointed rulings. Since religion was such a huge part of their lives, the people under the kings would likely not want to disagree with what the gods wanted. The many bodies found near different sites that seemed to be sacrifices confirm that people truly felt they were doing the god’s work but giving up their lives or following different leaders without revolt. The Ziggurat of Ur was especially interesting how a leader could get the people to build such a massive structure in those ancient times. The time and resources needed to build those structures is absolutely overwhelming.
      The interesting political move by Saddam was also fascinating in how he placed his planes near the Ziggurat of Ur in hopes that they would be protected by the ancient area’s cultural importance. Clearly it didn’t work as he planned but it was a pretty good idea if he thought other countries would respect the ancient site.

      • #6181
        Lucas Warthen
        Participant

        Hey Valene,

        I 100% agree with your point on religion being such a huge aspect of the ancient people’s lives. You pointed out that they would never want to disobey their priest-king, because defying them would be defying the gods as well – which I think is another great point. You also stated that Saddam Hussein used the Ziggurat of Ur to try and protect planes by hoping people would respect the areas cultural significance. However, I still think his idea was a good one – they didn’t attack the area out of disrespect for the culture they only did because of the man that was there. We also see that there is a mass amount of respect for the area / ziggurat itself because even Hussein wanted to reconstruct it (at least in part).

        • #6266
          Valene
          Participant

          Hey Lucas,
          Thanks for your comments. It is interesting how cultural respect can be used in times of war and its also sad how many wars through the ages have destroyed priceless artifacts and buildings. Using sacred or religious monuments to protect other important objects works well if attacking nations also respect those same sites.

          • #6374
            jlchamberlain
            Keymaster

            Great discussion you guys! These are really important point that you brought up here.

      • #6194
        Lacey Miller
        Participant

        Valene- It is rather interesting how much of their power was appointed by the gods and how much was depicted in their art. Its also kind of a quirky thought to think how long this tradition has withheld in as recent of times as the 80s.

        • #6267
          Valene
          Participant

          Lacey,
          Thanks for your comments. I think this kind of rule is still used in modern days. I believe much of the middle east rulers are Presidents and were appointed by the people but they still feel they are god appointed to some extent or at least god approved. Also, the Vatican isn’t a ruling nation, but that city also feels it is god appointed in the ruling by the pope.

        • #6375
          jlchamberlain
          Keymaster

          This is so true, I would argue that we can still see this happening today.

      • #6256
        Bob Hook
        Participant

        Valene, I liked your thoughts on how ancient civilizations often used religion and power to justify their actions and gain the support of their citizens. What is truly stunning is the fact you could make that same statement about many of the countries and their leaders even today. Hmmmm yet another reason to study art and history. Thanks

        • #6265
          Valene
          Participant

          Your right Bob, many cultures today also include their faith and supposed god given authority to legitimize their authority. We don’t see the conquering other cultures because of that authority like in ancient times but there is definitely conflict and arguing over differing views. Israel and Palestine comes to mind and differing rulers in much of the Middle East still deal with these conflicts.

      • #6310
        Kaylyn Kelly
        Participant

        RE: Valene
        Hey Valene,
        Your post was well written and well thought out. I agree with you that the kings/ rulers used religion to show their power. I think that they used religion against their commoners because everyone at the time believed in it and why would they want to disobey their Gods. So this allowed for the kings to set the laws and use their power the most.

      • #6396
        rdnelson4
        Participant

        I liked how through your answer was Valene! I think perhaps the sacrifices may have been not just religious in nature, however, but also a way of using fear to control the kingdom’s inhabitance and sending the message that the leader’s power was supreme and divine. Although I’m sure these human sacrifices were shown to be entirely religious in nature on the outside, I think it a distinct possibility if one was on the king’s bad side, the honor of being sacrificed might find its way onto their schedule. Also, it seems hard to believe, even in a culture so steeped in religion, that years of strenuous physical labor would occur willingly. Therefore, I would argue that slave labor was most likely, future backing up the opinion that the most productive and obedient workers were most likely not the ones who were killed sacrificially. It’s interesting to contemplate how conceded and apathetic a ruler would have to be to build great monuments without lifting a finger to assist in its completion. Although, if one thought they were truly divine and appointed by the gods, perhaps the suffering and death of others would really seem a trivial matter. I guess we will never know.

    • #6163
      Kaitlyn
      Participant

      The different rulers all followed a similar pattern, artwork showing them communicating with the gods, building huge elaborate structures, or engaging in some kind of ceremony or celebration. Examples would include the carved vessel from Uruk, the King-Priest conversing with Inanna, the Stele of Hammurabi receiving the laws from the god to act as an intermediary, Assurbanipal is shown in more than one work either killing the lions in ceremonial show of power, or celebrating in the garden with his queen. The Ishtar gate, and the Nqsh-e Rustam are only two examples of the enormous and dramatic structures that must have taken years to construct. So I think the rulers would show their power with the magnitude of their structures, and somehow include that is was the will of the gods.
      Saddam Huessein tried to rebuild Babylon as a power showcase. He had a palace constructed to replicate the one from the time of Nebuchadnezzar.He also partially restored the lower level of the Nanna Ziggurut.

      • #6291
        Gabe
        Participant

        I agree that the rulers serving as an intermediary to the Gods is a repetitive theme in all this artwork that serves to legitimize the authority of ancient Mesopotamian rulership. I wonder if similar tactics aren’t used today. What are our rulers intermediaries of? We think of them as carrying the collective will of the people., but is that a good thing or would it be better to think of our leadership as just people trying to do their best governing? Maybe this is an off-topic tangent :p but its what your post made me think of!

        • #6376
          jlchamberlain
          Keymaster

          This is a totally relevant tangent and one worth discussing!

      • #6392
        Allie Eby
        Participant

        Hi Kaitlyn, I really appreciate your point about the sheer magnitude of the sculptures and structures used by the Mesopotamian rulers. They add a sense of grandness to the areas in which they were built, and so might serve as a valuable psychological tool to help reinforce the grandness of the ones who had them built. Size is frequently associated with power in a lot of cultures as well, and I think this really drives that point home.

    • #6164
      Jessi Willeto
      Participant

      A common theme within the Mesopotamian cultures showing their power is showing their connection to divinity — the right to rule. They would liken themselves to the gods, use hierarchy of scale (stele of Naram-Sin), and depict themselves doing something noble or brave (hunting lions). Hammurabi’s Code depicts him quite literally consulting with a God, elevating himself to the divine as the code falls beneath him. Saddam Hussein had a similar goal in mind by reconstruction of the Ishtar Gate.

      • #6166
        Miranda Jackovich
        Participant

        To Jessi Willeto
        I thought you mentioning how they liken themselves to gods was a great idea. Hammurabi’s Code was the perfect example because he was depicted consulting with a god. Holding ones self to the status of god makes it easier to hold power and show strength.

      • #6302
        Miranda Johansson
        Participant

        Jessi – I agree with you. The way that rulers would compare themselves to divine beings is interesting. Although there seemed to be many depictions of rulers among godly creatures, I don’t think they place themselves above the gods that often. For example where it is depicted that they are consulting the gods, this shows a little bit of humility towards the divine powers and that even the rulers need the gods.

    • #6165
      Miranda Jackovich
      Participant

      The growth of civilizations came the need for social ranking. This helped cultures organize themselves to have a stable economy. Stone was often used to create pieces displaying a story, or recording laws and resources. For example, Darius I of the Persian Empire built Persepolis that displayed his power over the natural world. He was able to bring specialist from all over the Persian Empire to construct the capital. With most power someone will try to take it, resulting in destruction. Artifacts such as “Assurbanipal and his Queen in the Garden’depicted a victory. Assurbanipal and his Queen are raised to show power, displaying weapons at the kings side. Also to the left showed the head of a enemy hanging in a tree.

    • #6170
      Kaitlyn
      Participant

      Jessi,
      You were spot on with your example I especially like how you point out that every king would make a show of his connection to the gods, whether that be consulting with a god or being displayed as the same height as the gods. Your use of a modern example of Hussein trying to show his power by building an elaborate structure as the rulers that came before him did was also a good point

    • #6171
      Lucas Warthen
      Participant

      Many of the rulers of Mesopotamian cultures used religion as backing to legitimize their power, this power was then shown in many of the artifacts we see today. One of the biggest examples is seen through the Stele of Hammurabi where Hammurabi is right there with the god of sun, Shamash, and is receiving the laws that are seen on the stele itself. Not only does that show that Hammurabi is chosen by the gods, but the fact that Hammurabi’s person is on the same level of the god himself show there is a connection between the two that isn’t present between Shamash and other men.
      As for the second question, two of these sites – the Gate of Ishtar and Nanna Ziggurat – have been used by Saddam Hussein in an attempt to parallel himself with rulers of the old and their power. With this, I don’t think he intended to connect himself with the old gods with which the structures were connected, he merely wanted to draw the line of power with himself and the older rulers that built them as well.

      • #6393
        Allie Eby
        Participant

        Hi Lucas, I appreciate your points about rulers using religious ties to cement their qualification to rule. However, I think that a lot of modern traditions also use a less literal version of this, including US Presidents swearing in over bibles and other small religious tools that could legitimize the ruler more solidly in the eyes of their religious followers. What do you think?

    • #6173
      Aubri Stogsdill
      Participant

      All through the various mesopotamian cultures, we see rulers attempting to show their power through depictions in architecture and other forms of art. Generally, the rulers would be consulting with various Gods– One example of this is seen in the Stele of Naram-sim. In this limestone carving, Naram-Sim is portrayed larger, standing above enemies as well as his own soldiers. He is endowed with a horned helmet, which represented divinity. Through this image, Naram-Sim is showing his authority and strength. Just above him are three suns that represent the sun God.

      At the peek of his power in the 1980’s, Saddam Hussein began to rebuild on the ruins of ancient Babylon in an attempt to portray himself as the ‘reincarnated Nebuchadnezzar. He renovated the Ziggurat of Ur- but he only succeeded in rebuilding the first level. Like many rulers before him, Saddam was attempting to style himself as a god.

    • #6175
      Jessi Willeto
      Participant

      RE: Miranda Jackovich
      That’s a good point you have there, Miranda– the need for social ranking. Leaders would have to legitimize themselves as something of higher status than the commoner to prove that they had any rights to rule, and with that, likened or connected themselves with the divines. I enjoyed your response.

    • #6176
      Jessi Willeto
      Participant

      RE: Kaitlyn
      I’m glad you pointed out other ways their showed their prowess– through the building of complicated artwork or structures. Such a feat would surely ensure their place of power from the perspective of the people, since we want to believe our rulers powerful (leadership qualities). Like you said, the magnitude of the structures would strike awe in those beneath the rulers and those that are in the same social standing as well. To gain respect of other rulers must have been important.

    • #6191
      Lacey Miller
      Participant

      How did the rulers of different Mesopotamian cultures visually show their power and legitimize their right to rule? Use examples.
      Much of the art of this time and proximity, directly represented its rulers. If not by simply being a portrait or stand-alone sculpture, like HEAD OF AN AKKADIAN RULER, than in images depicting superiority, or god-appointed power. A good example of this is STELE OF NARAM-SIN, where the ruler is not only at the top of the piece, but also adorned with a horned helmet representing his godliness.
      Additionally, great architectural pieces were commissioned by the rulers to show their superiority.
      The visual expressions of power are still tampered with in the modern day, I suppose to keep their symbolism of power and importance alive. The Nanna Ziggurat, for example, had been partially reconstructed by Saddam Hussein in the 80s. I believe that to be a testament to his own idea of divine appointment as a leader.

      • #6233
        Aubri Stogsdill
        Participant

        RE Lacey Miller,

        The STELE OF NARAM-SIN is such a great example of this. It is evident in this piece that Naram-Sim is ‘the man’ so to speak. They really believed that had god appointed power. How interesting would it be to get into these peoples’ heads and to understand the thought processes they had and why they believed this stuff! Pretty crazy but so interesting!

    • #6198
      Lacey Miller
      Participant

      Kaitlyn-
      “I think the rulers would show their power with the magnitude of their structures, and somehow include that is was the will of the gods.” Very good point. Kind of interesting to think about, do you suppose they gained their internal power from believing this or gained their power from making others believe it? likely a little of both

      • #6377
        jlchamberlain
        Keymaster

        Great question! I agree with you, maybe a bit of both.

    • #6207
      Bob Hook
      Participant

      I found it interesting that the Mesopotamian cultures tied their leadership to the gods in numerous visual ways. In a landscape that is basically flat they built ziggurats from mud bricks that were several stories high and on top of these structures, they created temples for the worship of their deities. They were designed to symbolically function as bridges between the heavens and the earth. Anu Ziggurat was built to worship the Sumerian god Anu, the sky god. Another example would be the Nanna Ziggurat, dedicated to the moon god.
      The materials they used to adorn these ziggurats and artifacts found within and around them also offer clues into the social hierarchy of their society. The temples were whitewashed and even adorned with glazed bricks to highlight their visual appeal. Rare materials such as gold, silver, and copper were utilized in jewelry and other religious adornments. While semi-precious stones such as lapis lazuli were used to highlight both their buildings and adornments. I equate the use of these special materials indicate that the leaders controlled great wealth and power in a culture that was agrarian with few natural building materials.
      They also visually showed their power in artifacts that were found from the era. The Stele of Naram-Sin depicts the leader Naram—Sin as larger and he is placed at the top of the stele, the very definition of a hierarchy. He is also wearing a headdress with horns symbolically stating that he is a god. His army is below him and grounded in the natural world. Great harm is being inflicted on the enemy. Soldiers are shot through the neck with the spear, one is being thrown off a cliff and the other has turned to run in terror. These all combined to verify that Naram-Sin was acting as a god or as an agent of the gods.

      • #6282
        tmbergan
        Participant

        Bob, I really like that you mentioned the stones like lapis lazuli being equated with the leaders’ wealth. It definitely makes sense that they would have more power if they did have more money to bring in materials like the semi-precious stones in (at least what seems like) such large quantities to use in their buildings and accessories. Maybe some of the rulers used that to their advantage and tried to outdo later rulers by making their buildings more visually appealing than the last to show that they hold more power than the previous kings did.

      • #6378
        jlchamberlain
        Keymaster

        Yes! Great post with excellent examples. Can you talk a little about modern day examples. Do you think we still show power in a similar fashion?

    • #6248
      ckocsis
      Participant

      Mesopotamia’s rulers used the idea that they were connected to divinity to legitimize their rule, and it seems like they furthered this idea with tall structures like the Ziggurats that reached to the gods and were easily seen by all. I think the rulers also wanted such pronounced structures so that the people were always reminded of their rulers presence. In pieces like the Stele of Naram-sim, Naram-sim is depicted larger than life, which further represents his relationship to the gods and implies his godliness. In general, the rulers of Mesopotamia used art and architecture to further solidify their right to rule by showing their connection to the gods.

      • This reply was modified 1 year, 10 months ago by ckocsis.
      • #6379
        jlchamberlain
        Keymaster

        yes, good example. What about modern day use of such structures or in some cases the very same structures that we have studied? Is this something that is still done to show power?

    • #6250
      ckocsis
      Participant

      I totally agree, I think it’s smart that you pointed out that art was used to show that rulers had the right to rule because they could beat usurpers/enemies, not just to show that they have god given power. That’s a really good point.

    • #6258
      Maggie May
      Participant

      Rulers of Mesopotamia used art to communicate many things about social structure, power, and order. For example, the Votive Statue of Gudea demonstrates that Gudea was a divinely appointed ruler. Art was also significant in that it could represent power. The eyes on the Head of an Akkadian Ruler may have been removed by a later ruler to remove that ruler’s power. The Stele of Hammurabi included the laws and codes of the time, enforcing order and establishing rule among the people. The Stele of Naram-Sin also represents the social structure of the time, from a divinely appointed ruler who is larger (and higher in the hierarchy than others) to his defeated enemies. Art was a critical social tool of communication during these times, as well as a spiritually significant practice.
      Many sites of these ancient artifacts are now politically turbulent areas, which has often led to the destruction, loss, or looting of artifacts when appropriate concern or care is not shown. I believe that is a political statement in and of itself. As stated in the section on the Carved Vessel from Uruk, appropriate caution was not provided by U.S. military forces which ultimately led to it’s disruption and looting. Artifacts have also been destoryed, such as that of Lamassu, by terrorist forces as a way to exert and demonstrate power and control.

      • #6268
        Valene
        Participant

        Maggie, I liked how you brought up “The eyes on the Head of an Akkadian Ruler may have been removed by a later ruler to remove that ruler’s power.’ I can’t help but think of posters and how often kids or adults will scratch out the eyes of the people they don’t like. Obviously posters like that weren’t around in ancient times but I wonder if that same feeling of removing the eyes is actually done throughout history to show disdain for someone.

        • #6409
          Raven Shaw
          Participant

          That’s a fantastic point! Humans seem to have a ‘thing’ about removing the eyes on images of people we don’t like. If images of rulers had wide eyes to show that they were always watching, and always taking in god’s will, their enemies would destroy the eyes to break their connection to god and stop them from looking at the earth. We get creeped out by pictures where the eyes seem to follow you, I wonder if Mesopotamians did too?

    • #6263
      Tamara Toy
      Participant

      One manner that the rulers of Mesopotamia showed their power was to represent the relationship between the rulers and the gods. The Stele of Naram-Sin shows Naram-Sin as being larger than anyone else on the stele, his presence being imposing, and that he is closest to the gods, due to being the highest person on the stele. He has claimed the divine right to rule, suggesting he was chosen by the gods, themselves. Naram-Sin showed strength in his victory, which would honor the gods. This would place Naram-Sin as the go-between of the people and the gods, which would make him a tool of the gods and creating self-importance.
      These sites are used in more modern political issues by trying to align themselves with the ancient rulers of Mesopotamia. Saddam Hussien’s attempt to rebuild Babylon and the Ishtar Gate shows he was trying to place his rule of Iraq in the same category as Babylon. This could also be used as a means to legitimize his rule by stating that Hussien was chosen by the gods. This would be important, especially given the political scene at the time, to assert his gods-given right to rule.

    • #6271
      Aalieyah Creach
      Participant

      Q: How did the rulers of different Mesopotamian cultures visually show their power and legitimize their right to rule? Use examples.

      Additionally, how have some of these same sites and monuments been used by modern political forces.

      A: The rulers of different Mesopotamian cultures visually showed their power and legitimized their right to rule by saying that they had a connection with the gods and by making these monuments that emphasized the idea that they were in touch with the gods. Some examples include the Nanna Ziggurat that was made dedicated to the moon god and the Naram Sins Helmet which is a gods helmet that was claimed and worn by someone who was chosen to rule due to the divinity the helmet portrayed.

      • #6279
        tmbergan
        Participant

        Aalieyah, I like that you mention the helmet Naram-Sin wore for this question. A lot of people have been going for the Nanna Ziggurat for their answers so it’s nice to see another example! I think you may be missing the second part of the question asking how the sites/monuments have been used by the modern political forces.

      • #6380
        jlchamberlain
        Keymaster

        Can you elaborate on this? What about modern day use? Do we as humans still use physical structures as a sign of power or intimidation, how so?

    • #6273
      lwalters1
      Participant

      Each culture in the Mesopotamia was built on the one before it and while each was a distinct political and cultural entity their are also many similarities in style and subject matter of the artistic objects across many years spanning this time period. The Mesopotamia used religion for ruling. The rulers sad they had a connection with God, giving them a right to rule. Hammurabi’s code being a great example of this because he held himself to the status of a god. Making him look powerful and showing strength. Later on they showed this through artifact.

      • #6381
        jlchamberlain
        Keymaster

        Can you expand on this? What about modern day use of structures or monuments? Do we still see these monuments used today or new ones being erected as a sign of power and wealth?

    • #6274
      Dean Riley
      Participant

      In order to hold on to your rule in Mesopotamia, you had to legitimize your rule and how one went about that is by elevating themselves to something about just being “mortal”. If a ruler could make his subjects believe that he was almost god-like, then the ruler would be much less likely to be confronted. The rulers would have art depicting them as great fighters such as the victory party in “Assurbanipal and His Queen in the Garden” or “Assurnasirpal II Killing Lions”. Even if the ruler wasn’t a great fighter, the perception of those he ruled over was more important. Modern political forces such as Saddam Hussein have used recreations of Mesopotamian culture in their own rule. Hussein partially part a smaller version of the Ishtar Gate at a museum’s entrance in Iraq.

      • #6286
        Laura Barber
        Participant

        Re: Dean Riley
        You make a great point about the leaders wanting to be seen as god-like. If their subjects viewed them as servants, then they would be relatable, which means that they would be vulnerable like the. It is a bit funny that they would fake being good hunters, protected from danger by their guards on hunts. Surely their subjects must’ve noticed this..? Perhaps they were too scared to speak up.

    • #6277
      tmbergan
      Participant

      The Assurnasirpal II Killing Lions is a nice visual example of how Mesopotamian cultures showed their power. In the Kahn Academy video, they mentioned that it was a rule that only kings were allowed to kill the lions. They would do so to show their strength and to demonstrate how the king protects his citizens from the outside forces of nature. A lot of the kings also had artwork with them in close proximity to some of the gods they worshipped, placing them above their citizens as they were seen as being on a similar level of power to the gods. They built ziggurats probably with that idea that it shows just how close they are to a specific god with the massive structures emphasizing their power. Saddam Hussein has used the Ziggurat of Ur specifically for more modern political forces, as he parked his fighter jets near it to try and prevent the US military from bombing the ancient site. He had also restored a lower portion of the ziggurat to show his power to his own people, though it might not have been for religious reasons like previous rulers had done.

      • #6309
        Kaylyn Kelly
        Participant

        RE: tmbergan
        Hey tmbergan,
        Your post was very informal and added a lot of extra information for me. I did not see some of the things how you did. We did end up having the same thoughts about the modern political forces on how Saddam Hussien parked his jets by the Ziggurat of Ur. I found it so interesting that he tried using that as a war tactic to see if other countries would respect ancient religious monuments of other places.

      • #6389
        Tamara Toy
        Participant

        tmbergan, I really appreciate the information in your post. I think another reason that only kings were allowed to kill the lions is that it would show that they had the strength and tenacity to kill something as fierce as a lion would make them more god-like and further affirm that they were chosen by the Gods to rule. As well, if anyone else showed the same abilities to kill a lion, that could be seen as a challenge, possibly one condoned by the Gods.

    • #6287
      Laura Barber
      Participant

      The different rules of Mesopotamia all had one underlying method to keep control of their subjects: God. They used the image and concept of gods and goddesses to validate their own rule and power. One example of this is the votive statue of Gudea. The statue holds a vase from which the two rivers (Tigris and Euphrates) flow, showing the good agriculture and wealth of the land. This statue was used as a symbol that the leader was chosen by God and thus able to bless the land. This image of anointed leaders is present in many other pieces of art at the time, from the relief panels of emperors killing lions to the creation of colossal structures like Persepolis.
      In 1971, Persepolis was used as the site for the 2,500 year celebration of the Persian Empire. Many officials from foreign countries were invited in an effort to spread their culture.

      • #6300
        Miranda Johansson
        Participant

        Laura – great post! Rulers and kings definitely would compare themselves as either equal to Gods, or specifically appointed to blessing and ensuring the well-being of their kingdom. Religion and rituals seemed to be of great significance of the time, and rulers would utilize this for demonstrating their power over everything else.

    • #6288
      Gabe
      Participant

      Going through the exhibit and the questions made me think about comparisons between the uses of art in ancient Mesopotamian cultures to way modern society uses photo-ops, sound bites, talking about their achievements etc. to portray leaders as powerful and legitimate. Of course there was no television in the ancient near east, so these works of art were probably all the access members of ancient Mesopotamian had to their leaders, and were the mass media of the time. Works such as ‘Assurnasirpal II Killing Lions’ is easily substituted for photos of ‘Vladimir Putin with a Tiger he shot with a tranquilizer dart’. Of course impressive architecture has always been a staple of demonstrating power. The Ziggurats that raised into the sky got worshipers closer to the gods. Whomever constructed these monuments was surely a force to be reckoned with. As was mentioned in the video, Saddam Hussein used a restoration of the Ishtar Gate to pull some of the clout that ancient Mesopotamian culture has to his own purposes. The legitimacy of these objects still carries weight today, albeit moreso because they are a connection to earliest civilization than the Gods.

      • #6308
        Sam Saccomen
        Participant

        I really enjoyed how you included how in modern days we use picture and media to portray power just as they did back in Mesopotamia times. Although it is extremely different than before because of the lack of tv etc. We still use art to portray what is going on in the world. There are still so many similarities to how we use art today to express views on individuals and the world. Great post overall!!

    • #6296
      Sam Saccomen
      Participant

      This week the Assurnasirpal II Killing Lions was a great example of how kings used art to portray bravery and power. Kings used art forms to visual show what it was like to be a king. People respected these kings and often times were willing to give up their lives in honor of the king. Often in these times, Kings were looked as just below or equal to the Gods. A king able to kill a lion proved power and bravery such as a God would. Just like today people want to feel safe and feel as if those in charge are not taking advantage of them. The art work was a great way to show the people that the king would protect them against everything. This allowed citizens to give the kings their full trust and live to love the King. The kings continued to portray themselves as these Gods and grew to be some of the most famous kings of all time. Without these visual representations of the kings, we may not of been able to visual remember them.

      • #6316
        csayreswoody
        Participant

        I must agree it was amazing how each piece showed how the kings ruled in that era and how they showed it through their art. It kinda remind you of today’s time in a certain way according to the news and events that are happening…

        • #6383
          jlchamberlain
          Keymaster

          I agree, can you provide some examples of this? Do we still use structures to portray power? Have any of the historical structures or works been used in modern times to do the same?

      • #6382
        jlchamberlain
        Keymaster

        Read back through the original discussion post, I think you can elaborate on your post. Also, discuss the topic of modern day use of some of the structures that we studied in this unit. Are they still being used, how so? Do we still use structures to show power and strength or wealth?

    • #6298
      Kaylyn Kelly
      Participant

      The rulers of the Mesopotamian cultures had a common theme. They all connected their leadership to the Gods and other religious ways. Their artwork showed the communication that they believed and told individuals they had with the Gods. Religion was a huge part of individuals lives during that era. The rulers could use this against the common people because of how much the commoners believed in the Gods. They didn’t want to disobey their Gods so they also listened to the kings rules. This is why the rulers created large structures of Gods to go up in their communities. They used it for the commoners to see. If they could visually see their Gods they wouldn’t disobey as much. Rulers again used this as a tactic to rule and show power. Rulers also used their “power” to make their communities build the religious structures for them. People also wouldn’t say no because it was for a religious purpose. An example of that would be the Ziggurat of Ur.
      The Ziggurat of Ur has been used by modern political forces. Saddam Hussein parked his jets near the Ziggurat of Ur because its an ancient site hoping it wouldn’t be bombed. He thought others countries wouldn’t bomb the ancient site.

    • #6299
      Allie Eby
      Participant

      As many students have already clarified, within all of the different Mesopotamian cultures we’ve looked at, there was a persistent theme of power and its relation to the divine. Kings and rulers frequently used a mixture of symbolism to define themselves as rightful rulers with significant power. Many portrayed themselves as interacting with or blessed by the gods directly (The three suns representing the gods in the Stele of Naram Sin, the rivers flowing from the vase in the https://art261.community.uaf.edu/votive-statue-of-gudea, and the sun god Shamash dictating laws to Hammurabi). The aforementioned examples also used the symbolism of heirarchic scale, and many figures such as the Stele of Naram Sin and the alabaster carving of Assurnasirpal killing lions also depicted acts of victory or strength, as though to reinforce the rulers’ status as powerful and blessed titans among ordinary men. Many rulers throughout Mesopotamian history also used grand sculptures of mystical or divine significance around their palaces and cities, such as the Ishtar Gate and the Lamassu Figures, as though signifying an entry into the realm of gods. As also previously stated by many students, Saddam Hussein attempted a recreation of the Nanna Ziggurat, a powerful structure meant to link mankind to the gods, likely to reinforce the cultural and religious significance and divinity of his own rulership by tapping into the cultural history of the region.

    • #6305
      Miranda Johansson
      Participant

      I think it is very interesting how pictures show rulers and nature all around them. For example the Ishtar gate, where there are lions, bulls, and dragons walking along the sides of the gates. As this gate served as the entrance to Babylon, it is almost as if it was claimed that these mighty creatures were guarding the gateway to the city. Even the panel of Assurnasirpal II killing lions, these picture is for showing his strength and that he is above might and strong creatures such as lions. The Great Lyre with the Bull’s head even seems to show a way that nature in a sense “worships” or serves the needs of humans with a high social stance. The images on the lyre shows various animals taking place in the burial ritual, as if they were honoring the deceased.
      <br>It seems as if it were common for rulers to use animals as a way to show their significance, strength, and capabilities as leaders. And this is something that continues on today. Look at the United States, for example, where the eagle is used to represent the nation. The eagle is a bird with significance, strength, cunning, and beauty, and by using this as a representation is a way of saying that the US is equal to the eagle.

    • #6318
      csayreswoody
      Participant

      I was so amazed at the similarities between the Mesopotamia and current times. It was not just enough to have the priest other people had desires to become kings. That reminds me of our current government. Now you have this set of politicians over here on this side of the fence an another leaning the other way. Another way it really reminded and astonished me was the evolution of weaponry and the need to continue with military tactics. Everything was handled with a iron fist there were no peaceful points that were mentioned anywhere. The desire to fight for land, kingship, power, religion, etc continues till this day. I loved how they incorporated the gods more and more as time pasted. I had a great appreciation for the elaborate detailed vases from the Urk era. I observed how each culture was always built on the culture before it. The way it became known as the “cradle of civilization” doesn’t surprise me they evolved from creation a language to incredible weapons. The interesting part was about how the kings thrived on the title but all got killed off in the end. The fact women were not allowed to get a education unless they were considered upper class still amazes me but its similar to those who cant continue their educations beyond high school because they cant afford it. Over 3000 years Mesopotamia has had many cultures and the artwork from what I have seen so far is exquisite.

    • #6324
      Guy Gaswint
      Participant

      The rulers of the time showed their power in art by commissioning over sized ornate items. The rulers were always depicted at the top and usually with the gods. I feel like the rulers of the time used the gods as an excuse to get the people to follow them. The idea that the people were serving a god that has chosen a ruler to lead them. This has happened throughout history, Jesus was the chosen one, the pope is saint-like, The Dali-lama and; Hitler, Stalin, Ganges Kan etc…

      Obviously everyone noted Saddam and Iraq as using these ancient sites for their political benefit. People of modern day may notice the giant statues of Saddam in Iraq, Same can be found in Russia, China, and North Korea. Rulers throughout history have commissioned enormous works of art to portray their own greatness to the people.

      Guy

      • #6384
        jlchamberlain
        Keymaster

        Can you give some examples from the unit?

    • #6386
      Jess
      Participant

      It was interesting to me how man rulers used statues or built a palace to show their power. Darius I built Persepolis to show the people of Persia not only that he was the King who had nice things, but that he was a King with power. This was shown by some of the design work that is left standing today such as the double-headed griffin and the lions carved into the wall fighting. Alexander the Great then showed the downfall of the Persian King by destroying the palace. The Stele of Hammurabi has the law code, all 282 laws, engraved into. This is a symbol to his power because it has Shamash, the son god and god of justice, sitting atop of the laws. When we look at modern politics and compare them to these examples, we see that there is a difference but also a similarity. When Sadam was dictator over Iraq, he erected a giant statue to show that he was the boss, the big fish so to speak. Once the people were liberated, they destroyed the statue to ruble. Just like Alexander the Great did as mentioned above.

    • #6398
      rdnelson4
      Participant

      Mesopotamia, like many ancient places, constructed huge monuments to honor their gods as well as show the wealth and power of their rulers. A king who could control his people absolutely could command the creation of such mindboggling projects, often stretching on for years and resulting in many lives lost, whereas a weaker rule may not be able to. The bigger and more glamourous the monument, the more glory and respect given to the gods as well as the ruler who commissioned it. Not only a demonstration of power however, the art and construction of ancient civilizations also acted as their history books. The Stele of Naram-sin also served to depict a great battle in their history. In more modern times, Saddam Hussein tried to use the historical significance of the Ziggurat of Ur to deter enemy forces from attacking his planes.

    • #6406
      Raven Shaw
      Participant

      The statues of mesopotamian rulers were usually idealized, with intent to make them look as god-like and attractive as possible. The images were meant to embody their ruling power long after death. Campaign ads were carved to show the rulers defeating nature and their enemies and bringing fertility to the land they ruled. The rulers also contracted large temples to be built, to inspire awe in their subjects and associate themselves with the gods. Amazing feats of architecture were used to dazzle subjects and visitors, such as arches and gates that people pass through to get near the ruler or enter the ruler’s city.

      In the Stele of Naram-sin, the ruler is depicted as much larger than his army men or his enemies, to show how he’s much more important. All the eyes of the small people are focused on Naram-sin, to draw the viewer’s eyes toward him.

      Nebuchadnezzar associated himself with Marduk, and gentrified his city by having the Ishtar gateway built for it. It was coated in Lapis colored glass that shown in the desert, and covered in regularly arranged lions, cattle, and a type of dragon that looked like a primitive memory of cat/snake. The gateway was made of several parts, one of which 100 feet tall.

      Gudea showed that the land was prosperous during his rule by holding a vase overflowing with the Tigris and the Euphrates in one statue. He marketed himself as pious and virtuous, showing concern for his subjects and building temples to various gods. Most statues of him were small, but made from the hardest stone so that they would last. It is also interesting that his statues show him wearing a shepherd’s hat instead of a crown. Gudea was one of the first kings to have a realistic bust of himself carved. This may have been a mental change within himself from immersion in group identity to recognition of individual identity, connected to his concern for his subjects.

      In modern times, ancient Mesopotamian art has been either rebuilt by rulers to reclaim the power of ancient gods, or torn down in an effort to erase any previous civilization.

      During Operation Desert Storm, Saddam Hussein thought that American troops would not risk damaging the Ziggurat of Ur, so he parked his fighter jets next to it. Turns out he was wrong. Saddam also had a small version of the Ishtar Gate built for his own museum.

      ISIS practiced cultural cleansing by destroying temples, artifacts, shrines, and art, in an effort to wipe out polytheism and leave nothing but Islam behind. Ironically though, they also stole artifacts to sell on the black market to fund their military actions.

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