4. Sumerian Sculpture

We have some pieces of sculpture from Sumer for which we have no explanation. We can all do research for the fun of finding new information about something that we can not easily explain.

Many sculptures from different times loose their heads. I am not kidding. One museum will have part of a body and another museum worlds away will have the head.

Inanna – Female Head from Uruk, c. 3500 – 3000 B.C., Iraq Museum, Baghdad.

White marble head of a woman, 3,000 BCE

Note the apparent ease with which the sculpture was able to create hair, eyes and the rest of her face. This suggests that there were some very good artisans working at that time.

All that I know about this lady is that she is called Warka which is a place.

This lady was produced in about 2400 BCE.

As you can tell from this close up creating a person in the sculptural form is not an easy task. I wonder were her body has gotten to?

Why do you think the eyes were such an important part of these faced?

One idea is that they were created to stand in for people worshiping the gods. There may have been an artistic convention that the artists had to follow, The eyes of temple sculpture had to be large to communicate with the god or godess the patron wanted or they may have needed many such sculptures due to plague or war.

What to you think may have caused the difference between the artistic sense between the first head and those below?

In this case it looks as if shell was used to make the eyes. You will have seen the whole sculpture under Temple Statues.

And here is a small collection. They were not collected because they were considered great art but because they fill an important part of history.

This photographer was nice enough to give us the information about this head. We are dependent on what a photographer puts up on the internet and how it described.

2600 BCE made of copper.

And this was made from molten metal. You can tell that people about 3000 BCE had learned how to cast metal for a variety of reasons.

This process of casting metal is called lost wax process. The piece is first made of wax with extra wax sprues,the sprue was a large extension whose only purpose was to help the molten metal get to all of the statue. It is then covered with concrete. This concrete is heated and the wax leaves the mold, them molten meetal is pored into the concrete. In this case both men are standing on their sprues. This tells us that the artist was unable to complete the piece for some unknown reason. Notice the head and feet

And here we have a goddess made from clay about 4000 BC

This is the first image of a mother feeding her baby. This image will continue through out the history of western art in different mythologies.

This flat figure has decorated shoulders which I have not seen before.

King Ur-Nammu

This is actually a king. We are told that this statue of a king carrying a load of clay to the temple was found buried in a foundation box at a corner of the Ziggurat.

This is what a Ziggurat might have looked like.

“Ur-Nammu, king of Ur (2112-2095 BC)

Ur-Nammu, began his rise to power as governor of the city of Ur. He appears to have been appointed by Utuhegal, ruler of Uruk, who was attempting to establish domination of south Mesopotamia following the decline of the empire of Agade. Ur-Nammu became an independent king and founded a line of rulers known today as the Third Dynasty of Ur (Ur III). All southern Mesopotamia was conquered by the new ruler, and a major building programme was initiated with religious buildings, including the first true ziggurat towers, constructed in Ur, Uruk, Eridu, and Nippur. The best preserved of these structures is at Ur.” Written by British Museum.

I wonder where her head is?

These last two pieces are made of clay.

As you can see here, not all things are as they seem. The use of these statues is not understood at this time. Similar statues were found in the Cycladic Islands of Greece. They were flat and made of marble.



Katherine Bolman, BS, MFA, MEd, MSW, EdD.