Similar theme serving Gods. In Egypt, the political structure stressed the importance of monument building and much of the civilization was based on the Nile and surrounding deserts. Egyptian theme was the building of monuments and the afterlife. There was a larger and more powerful government in Egypt ruled by pharaohs whereas Mesopotamia was ruled by kings (Guisepi 2007). The concept of gods and goddesses and an afterlife was an Egyptian larger world view. Egyptian art embraced the concept of gods and human life. It was Tutankhamen who restored the capital city after the reign of Akhenaton, building tombs to celebrate traditional gods. Social unrest then resulted in the exit out of Egypt into Palestine (Guisepi 2007).
A different perspective on religion between the two civilzations was that in Mesopotamia, gods were seen as so powerful, they could cause natural disastors such as floods. One of the reasons for this was that the environment was strongly influenced by the Tigris and Euphrates rivers that would quickly rise and people believed it was the gods that controlled the rivers. It was the priests who had to keep the gods happy so people would be safe. Egyptians saw their gods as more protective, who could create order and peace (Encyclopedia).
Mesopotamian art focused on less monumental structures, while embracing a pronounced literary element that Egyptian art lacked. Due to geographical differences in that Mesopotamians did not have access to large stones and lacked the ability to organize large groups of laborers (Guisepi 2007). Gods were conceived more as humans than mythological creatures. When Gods were depicted in art, they might have been associated with a particular city to demonstrate political power within a larger hierarchy (Metropolitan n.d.). Gods were often depiced in art as humans holding a natural object that was symbolic or helped to tell a story. Gods were often grouped in families (Encyclopedia).
The Assyrian period in art was from 1365-609 B.C. (Metropolitan n.d.) The Assyrian people settled on the northern border of Mesopotamia. Ancient Assyrians were brutal warriors who did not hesitate to kill women in children to achieve their conquest. They viewed life in the present with themes of heroes and the fight for survival in the art of the time. Trade with other countries led to an exchange of artistic ideas, resulting in glazed tiles depicting battle or everyday life that were used to decorate palaces and temples. Stone carvings and reliefs depicting battles with lions, horses or oxen were also common (Guisepi 2007)
Large sculptures serving as protective guards were a hallmark at kings’ palaces, such as the Nimrud and Jursabad doors with winged and half man half animal sculptures (Metropolitan n.d.). The themes of gods and wealth was also prevalent with reliefs depicting pharaoh-like figures wearing crowns and scepters. In the Neo-Assyrian period, symbols of wealth were depicted in furniture decorated with carved ivory plaques and other large ivory sculptures in Syria and the Assyrian plains. Other plaques were covered in gold leaf with stones and colored glass inlays (Metropolitan n.d.).
Under the reign of Ashur-uballit I and from the capital at Ashur, he controlled a land that had become rich in farming. In some relief carvings, there are images of gods exchanging wheat and holding Animal forms, especially horses and lions, are frequently found in reliefs and statues, often guarding the gates of Ashur-uballit I (Metropolitan). Under his reign, new images were appearing in reliefs, such as his seal and the killing of lions showing triumph over forces of the underworld which was meant to protect humans (Harper, et al. 103-104).
- Guisepi, Robert, ed. “Egypt and Mesopotamia Compared.” International World History Project. 2007. Web. 02 October 2015.
- Harper, Prudence, Klengel-Brandt, Evely, Aruz, Joan and Benzel, Kim. “Discoveries at Ashur on the Tigris: Assyrian Origins.” 1995. Print.
- Metropolitan Museum of Art. Web. 02 October 2015.