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Ancient Art and Architecture

Zainab Bahrani


An authoritative survey of the momentous and influential developments in the art and architecture of ancient Mesopotamia from 8000 BCE to the arrival of Islam in 636 CE

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In this fascinating and compelling book, Zainab Bahrani introduces readers to the spectacular images and monuments of this region of the Near East, covering modern Iraq, northeast Syria and southeast Turkey. As the narrative unfolds, readers will learn about the art of the legendary civilizations that flourished between the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers, and how it was made and received. She addresses the present-day situation in these lands and the violent destruction that continues to threaten the rich cultural heritage of Mesopotamia.

Chapter-opening maps and overviews guide readers through the geography and chronology of Mesopotamia, visiting the ancient cities of Ur, Babylon, Nineveh, Hatra and Seleucia on the Tigris. The book includes a glossary that defines all art-historical and technical terminology.

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'Illuminates the artistic creativity of ancient Mesopotamia with new and profound conceptualizations for our generation'
Harvey Weiss, Yale University

'Gloriously illustrated … this book will undoubtedly persuade even a sceptical reader of the artistic allure of ancient Mesopotamia'
Daily Telegraph

'The book is deeply informed by up-to-date scholarship and reflects significant new directions in approaches to Mesopotamian art over the past few decades'
Ann Gunter, Northwestern University

'A must-have book'
Timeless Travels

'This beautiful and insightful book will surely become the standard resource for teachers of Mesopotamian art'
Journal of Near Eastern Studies

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Product Information

Book Details

Format: Hardback

Size: 27.5 x 21.5 cm

Extent: 376 pp

Illustrations: 414

Publication date: 2 February 2017

ISBN: 9780500519172

Contents List

Introduction: Becoming Art • The Search for Origins: Mesopotamia and the Cradle of Civilization • Uruk: The Arts of Civilization • Early Dynastic Sumer: Images for the People, Temples for the Gods • Early Dynastic Sumer: Art for Eternity • Art of the Akkadian Dynasty • Gudea: Royal Portraits and the Lifespan of Images • The Third Dynasty of Ur • The Age of Hammurabi • Kassite and Assyrian Art at the End of the Bronze Age • Assyrian Art: Narrative and Empire • Assyrian Art in Context • Babylonian Art • Achaemenid Persian Art • Alexander in Babylon and Hellenism in Mesopotamia: Seleucid and Parthian Art • Epilogue: The Past in the Present • Glossary * Further Reading * Sources of Quotations * Acknowledgments * Sources of Illustrations * Index

About the Author

Zainab Bahrani is Edith Porada Professor of Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University, New York. She is the author of numerous books, including The Infinite Image: Art, Time and the Aesthetic Dimension in Antiquity, winner of the Lionel Trilling Prize in 2015, and Rituals of War: The Body and Violence in Mesopotamia, winner of the American Historical Association’s James Henry Breasted Prize.