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MFA for Educators

Engage your students with the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, to illustrate themes and concepts in any discipline.

Art of Ancient Sumer and Mesopotamia

  • Cylinder seal

    Slide Notes

    This cylinder seal is from the Sumerian period. Since it is made from lapis lazuli, it gives evidence of the existence of trade, because this stone came from far-away Afghanistan.

    Details

    Cylinder seal

    2900–2334 B.C.

    Dimensions

    Length: 0.038

    Medium

    Lapis lazuli

    Classification

    Seals

    Accession Number

    34.191

    Collections
    The Ancient World More Info

    Description

    Guilloche pattern in double registers.

    Multimedia

  • Cylinder seal

    Slide Notes

    Green serpentine
    Classification: Seals
    Near Eastern, Mesopotamian, Sumerian
    Ur III

    Details

    Cylinder seal

    2112–2004 B.C.

    Dimensions

    Legacy dimension: 27.5 mm x 13

    Medium

    Green serpentine

    Classification

    Seals

    Accession Number

    65.1487

    Collections
    The Ancient World More Info

    Description

    Presentation scene. Seated deity with horned crown holding ring and scepter -- royal insignia. Star inscribed in crescent in field right above ring and scepter. A suppliant with round cap and turban stands in front of seated deity. Interceding goddess wearing horned crown and flounced garment behind suppliant. Two columns of inscription.

    Multimedia

  • Ewer with sculpted animals

    Slide Notes

    3350–3250 B.C.

    Overall: 14cm (5 1/2in.)
    Limestone
    Classification: Vessels
    Near Eastern, Mesopotamian, Sumerian
    Early Bronze Age, Early Dynastic Period
    Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

    Details

    Ewer with sculpted animals

    3350–3250 B.C.

    Dimensions

    Overall: 14cm (5 1/2in.)

    Medium

    Limestone

    Classification

    Vessels

    Accession Number

    1977.802

    Collections
    The Ancient World More Info

    Description

    Section of a decorated stone cult vessel, with a figure carved in high relief of a lion attacking a bull.

    Multimedia

  • Stamp seal or amulet

    Slide Notes

    Stamp seal or amulet

    3500–3100 B.C.

    Length: 5.5 cm (2 3/16 in.)
    Travertine (Egyptian alabaster)
    Classification: Seals
    Near Eastern, Mesopotamian, Sumerian
    Late Uruk

    Details

    Stamp seal or amulet

    3500–3100 B.C.

    Dimensions

    Length: 5.5 cm (2 3/16 in.)

    Medium

    Travertine (Egyptian alabaster)

    Classification

    Seals

    Accession Number

    1978.412

    Collections
    The Ancient World
    On View
    Ancient Near East Gallery - 110 More Info

    Description

    Theriomorphic stamp seal/amulet in shape of recumbent bull. Seal impression: abstract geometric designs, drillings.

    Multimedia

  • Stamp seal or amulet

    Slide Notes

    Stamp seal or amulet

    3500–3100 B.C.

    Overall: 4cm (1 9/16in.)
    Mother-of-pearl
    Classification: Seals
    Near Eastern, Mesopotamian, Sumerian
    Late Uruk

    Details

    Stamp seal or amulet

    3500–3100 B.C.

    Dimensions

    Overall: 4cm (1 9/16in.)

    Medium

    Mother-of-pearl

    Classification

    Seals

    Accession Number

    1978.413

    Collections
    The Ancient World More Info

    Description

    Mother-of-pearl seal in the form of a running cow.

    Multimedia

  • Tablet with cuneiform inscription

    Slide Notes

    2112–2004 B.C.

    Overall: 46 x 40 x 16 mm (1 13/16 x 1 9/16 x 5/8 inches)
    Clay
    Classification: Inscriptions
    Near Eastern, Mesopotamian, Sumerian
    Early Bronze Age, Ur III

    Details

    Tablet with cuneiform inscription

    2112–2004 B.C.

    Dimensions

    Overall: 46 x 40 x 16 mm (1 13/16 x 1 9/16 x 5/8 inches)

    Medium

    Clay

    Classification

    Inscriptions

    Accession Number

    1981.381

    Collections
    The Ancient World More Info

    Description

    Cuneiform tablet with reliefs of figures.

    Multimedia

  • Tablet with cuneiform inscription

    Slide Notes

    Overall: 28 x 25 x 13 mm (1 1/8 x 1 x 1/2 inches)
    Clay
    Classification: Inscriptions
    Near Eastern, Mesopotamian, Sumerian
    Early Bronze Age, Ur III

    Details

    Tablet with cuneiform inscription

    2112–2004 B.C.

    Dimensions

    Overall: 28 x 25 x 13 mm (1 1/8 x 1 x 1/2 inches)

    Medium

    Clay

    Classification

    Inscriptions

    Accession Number

    1981.382

    Collections
    The Ancient World More Info

    Description

    Cuneiform tablet with incised vertical lines.

    Multimedia

  • Cylinder seal

    Slide Notes

    Details

    Cylinder seal

    2334–2154 B.C.

    Dimensions

    Length: 0.028

    Medium

    Green jasper, intaglio

    Classification

    Seals

    Accession Number

    34.200

    Collections
    The Ancient World More Info

    Description

    Contest scene. Bullman (kusarikku) in combat with lion and nude "hero" with curls, lahmu, with bull. Their bodies crossed with those of the animals they are overcoming. Inscription in two columns.

    Multimedia

  • Cylinder seal

    Slide Notes

    Details

    Cylinder seal

    2334–2154 B.C.

    Dimensions

    Length: 0.033

    Medium

    Hornblende

    Classification

    Seals

    Accession Number

    34.201

    Collections
    The Ancient World More Info

    Description

    Mythological scene. The sun-god Shamash, rises over the eastern hills with rays extending from his shoulders. A horned attendant opens the gates of the morning. Following the attendant approaches another human figure. The scene may be representing the emergence of the sun-god from the East after his nocturnal journey in the Underworld.

    Multimedia

  • Cylinder seal

    Slide Notes

    Sumerian. See the writing along the side! (Ur)

    Details

    Cylinder seal

    2112–2004 B.C.

    Dimensions

    Length: 2.7 cm (1 1/16 in.)

    Medium

    Haematite, intaglio

    Classification

    Seals

    Accession Number

    34.202

    Collections
    The Ancient World More Info

    Description

    Presentation scene. Interceding deity introducing owner of seal to seated divinity. Crescent in the field above, figure of scorpion between god and interceding divinity. Inscription in three columns.

    Multimedia

  • Cylinder seal

    Slide Notes

    Sumerian -- Ur.

    Details

    Cylinder seal

    2112–2004 B.C.

    Dimensions

    Legacy dimension: .24 x .14 mm.

    Medium

    Arragonite

    Classification

    Seals

    Accession Number

    36.193

    Collections
    The Ancient World More Info

    Description

    Presentation scene. A deity enthroned on a low dais is approached by a goddess wearing a simple horned crown and a pleated garment, who leads a human figure in a long garment. The seated deity wears a round cap and a "kaunakes" (flounced garment) and holds a small cup in one hand. Between the two dieties appears a disk with inscribed star and rays set within a crescent.

    Multimedia

  • Cylinder seal

    Slide Notes

    Sumerian

    Details

    Cylinder seal

    2900–2334 B.C.

    Dimensions

    Legacy dimension: .17 x .8 mm.

    Medium

    Lapis lazuli

    Classification

    Seals

    Accession Number

    36.202

    Collections
    The Ancient World More Info

    Description

    A nude hero holds a stag and a short horned animal by the throat each of which is attacked from behind by a lion. A bull-man attacks the lion at right from behind with a weapon.

    Multimedia

  • Cylinder seal

    Slide Notes

    Sumerian -- very old!

    Details

    Cylinder seal

    3100–2900 B.C.

    Dimensions

    Legacy dimension: .24 x .21 mm.

    Medium

    Yellowish Limestone

    Classification

    Seals

    Accession Number

    36.214

    Collections
    The Ancient World More Info

    Description

    Two reclining stags, one behind the other. Before each animal appear two vessels.

    Multimedia

  • Cone

    Slide Notes

    Neo-Sumerian (2100 bce)

    Details

    Cone

    about 2100 B.C.

    Medium

    Pottery

    Classification

    Inscriptions

    Accession Number

    60.19

    Collections
    The Ancient World More Info

    Description

    A reddish-brown terracotta cone. It has a rolled rim at the base. Writing on the body of the cone. The top of the cone is broken off.

    Multimedia

  • Cylinder seal

    Slide Notes

    Near Eastern, Mesopotamian, Sumerian
    Ur III

    Details

    Cylinder seal

    2112–2004 B.C.

    Dimensions

    Legacy dimension: 25.1 mm x 15

    Medium

    Haematite

    Classification

    Seals

    Accession Number

    65.1486

    Collections
    The Ancient World More Info

    Description

    Presentation scene. Seated god with horned crown at right holding ring and rod -- royal insignia. Star and crescent in field above, small humanoid creature crouching in field below. Before the deity stands a shaven headed suppliant figure in long garment introduced by interceding goddess in flounced dress with horned crown and upraised hands. Between suppliant and interceding goddess, in field above, a small crouching creature; inscription below. Behind goddess, facing opposite direction, another shaven headed figure, wearing kilt and holding situla and stylus? Facing him stands another suppliant wearing round cap, turban, and long garment (King?).

    Multimedia