Royal Statuary of Early Dynastic Mesopotamia

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Gianni Marchesi, Nicolo Marchetti
Published 30 Jun 2011
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The corpus of Early Dynastic figurative monuments from ancient Mesopotamia is substantial. For many years, establishing the chronological sequence and development of these artifacts has been a complicated and problematic task. In this volume—first published in Italian in 2006 and here translated, revised, and updated—Gianni Marchesi and Nicolò Marchetti provide a complete relative chronology for these remarkable objects. Having established the chronological sequence through an examination of the archaeological contexts of the excavated pieces and the analysis of their inscriptions, the authors then consider the significance of the changes, over time, in the subject matter of figurative arts, noting a gradual shift from a stage in which the entire officialdom of early polities was celebrated to a stage in which the figure of the king alone becomes the main and then almost the only object of celebration. Near the end of the Early Dynastic period, which was a time of continual political upheaval, new iconographic details were introduced in order to characterize the royal figure, and a distinctive royal iconography began to be developed.

Starting from these observations, the authors proceed to investigate the ideology of early polities in Mesopotamia and the role and functions of the king. Along with a new chronology of Early Dynastic rulers and an outline of Early Dynastic history, discussions of significant monuments and inscriptions are offered. In addition, all known inscriptions on royal statues are edited and provided with detailed commentaries.

First published in 2006 as La statuaria regale nella Mesopotamica Protodinastica (Rome: Bardi Editore).



Chapter 1. Archaeological Contexts and Chronology of Early Dynastic Statuary

1.1. The Main Contexts of Stratified Early Dynastic Statues and Other Visual Material

1.1.1. Tell Asmar (Ešnunak), Khafajah (Tutub), and Tell Agrab (PA.GAR)

1.1.2. Nuffar (Nippur)

1.1.3. Tello (Girsu)

1.1.4. Bismaya (Adab)

1.1.5. Tell al-Muqayyar (Ur)

1.1.6. Tell al-ʿUbaid (Nūtur)

1.1.7. Tell Hariri (Mari)

1.1.8. Qalºat Shergat (Aššur)

1.1.9. Tell Ingharra (Kiš)

1.1.10. Shush (Susa)

1.1.11. Some Groups of Sculpted Artifacts from Other Mesopotamian Sites

1.2. Early Dynastic Chronology and the Development of Visual and Epigraphic Artifacts

Chapter 2. Historical Framework

2.1. Political Development in Early Dynastic Mesopotamia: An Outline

2.2. Royal Titles and Ideology of Kingship

2.3. The Sumerian King List

2.4. Early Dynastic Rulers

Chapter 3. Early Dynastic Royal Statuary

3.1. Royal Statues Identified on Epigraphic Grounds

3.2. Uninscribed Statues Presumably Commissioned by Rulers

3.3. The Development and Meaning of Royal Statuary

3.4. Catalogue of Early Dynastic Royal Statuary

Chapter 4. The Inscriptions on Royal Statues

4.1. Preliminary Observations

4.2. Definition of the Corpus

4.3. Statue Inscriptions (Cat. 1–12)

Chapter 5. Kingship and Visual Communication in the Early Dynastic Period

5.1. The Protohistoric Era and the Problem of Identifying the “Priest-King”

5.2. The Iconography and Themes of Early Dynastic Art

5.3. Ebla and Early Syrian Culture

Chapter 6. Conclusions

6.1 Iconographic Details and Visual Significance: The Ruler and the Early State Administration

6.2. From Participation to Individualism: The Development of Royal Visual Propaganda in Early Dynastic IIIa–b

Appendix A. Remarks on Early Dynastic Temples

A.1. Characteristics of Early Dynastic Sanctuaries

A.2. Temple Names and Titular Deities

Appendix B. Royal Statues in Administrative Texts

Appendix C. Notes on the Transliteration of Texts and the Transcription of Proper Names

I. Personal Names

II. Divine Names

III. Geographical and Topographical Names



Philological Index

Sources of Illustrations