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Ishtar Gate (Artist's Impression)

Ishtar Gate (Artist's Impression)


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Gate of Ishtar

Gate Of Ishtar
Throughout history, art has always been the highlight of mankind. Art has been writing history before language has been created. Our art has written history, or even protected us, the Gate of Ishtar did its purpose by doing so. A wonderful, and very artistic wall built through art, this gate was dedicated to the Babylonian goddess, Ishtar

The Gate of Ishtar was one of the greatest, and monumental architectural treasure ever constructed during the Neo-Babylonian and Persian period. It was even considered one of the seven wonders in the world. The history behind this gate is very rich and popular. It was built during the time of Nebuchadnezzar II, who ordered the building of this gate. The time of this finished its construction was around 575 BCE. According to where the gate was located, it guarded the northern part of Babylon, running through the Processional Way. During the time, the gate was an absolute phenomenon. It ran approximately 40 feet high and 30 feet width, it also had a double arch gate. The reason behind the double arch gate was for it to be spaced by an interior passage. The masonry during the time of construction of the gate was very advanced, but not long lasting. The gate consisted of mud bricks, since the whole city of Babylon used mud bricks. Covering the mud bricks were blue glazed led, or copper, that gave the bricks an illuminating dark blue color. During that time, they used this process for all the important monuments in Babylon. On the gate there is a description, ordered by Nebuchadnezzar himself, which stated his feelings toward the gate, and the description of what the gate was made of. He also built his palace a few meters away from the gate itself. Throughout the gate, every brick was sought out and hand crafted one by one. Doing so, anyone who experiences the gate first hand can tell the marksmanship of each brick. The brickwork is decorated and inlayed by yellow colors creating lions, which run throughout.


Ishtar Gate Reconstruction

Around 575 BC, King Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon constructed the eighth gate to the ancient city, the Ishtar Gate. Ancient Babylon was enclosed by tall walls that measured over forty one miles in length and today it is still debated how tall the walls would have been. It has been estimated that the walls stood 75 feet tall, and other have even described the walls as being 300 feet tall (Walls 2012). Because the walls are no longer standing it is of no real knowledge that we would be able to decipher just how tall the walls of Babylon stood. However, it is agreed that there were two walls surrounding the ancient city, with the Greek historian Herodotus claiming that a four-horse chariot could move between the two (Walls 2012).

The Ishtar Gate was built in dedication to the Babylonian goddess Ishtar and stood approximately 38 feet tall (Garcia, 2013). It was constructed of mud bricks that were created from the clay taken from the river valley. Babylon was surrounded on one side by the Euphrates river, and as a result, Babylonians constructed most of their architecture with clay bricks (Harris 2012). The Ishtar Gate was constructed on the side with the river and was accessed by the Processional Way. The Processional Way crossed over the Euphrates River and was used in religious ceremonies. Each new year, those participating in the religious ceremony would carry statues that represented the gods over the Processional Way. This ceremony honored Marduk, the patron god of Babylon (Damon, 1993). The gate displays reliefs of lions, dragons, and bulls, each representing different gods and formed from brick. The lion represented the goddess Ishtar and could be found lining the walls of the Processional Way (Garcia, 2013).

Today there is a portion of the gate that is standing in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin, Germany (King, 2008). Between 1928 and 1930, a representational reconstruction was built and transferred to the Pergamon Museum. It was created using the excavated remains of the gate. However, because of the size of the museum, they were not able to create an exact replica and the gate standing in the museum is smaller than the actual gate would have been. They only have the first gate on display, with the larger second piece in storage because of size restrictions.

During my reconstruction of the Ishtar Gate, I used artistic renderings and the Pergamon reconstruction for inspiration. I began by constructing the front half of the gate with two large pillars and the gate archway. From my readings, I had determined that the second part of the gate would have been similar to the first, except it would have been larger. I constructed my gate using playing cards because they would provide a sturdy and bendable material. They also had an interesting, blue design that I believed would look nice. Because the material I used was already decorated and on a small scale, I did not show the reliefs of the dragons, lions, and bulls. If the reconstruction were done on a larger scale, it would be easier to show the animal reliefs. I cut, folded, and glued the cards into the shape of the reconstruction found at the Pergamon museum. After achieving the desired look I constructed the second part of the gate that would have been found on the inner wall surrounding the city. I created larger columns for the second part and attached the two pieces together. After reaching completion of the large pieces of the gate I was able to measure and cut sections of brown paper for the roof of the gate and large columns. After finishing my gate I attached it to the desired base and created a path to the gate. I created a path to represent the Processional Way over the Euphrates River. I wanted the gate to be the main focus and effort of my reconstruction so I did not create an overly designed representation of the Processional Way. I also used tulle to represent the Euphrates River, which the Processional Way crossed over.

Reconstructions are important in art and history because it gives us a glimpse of what an object would have looked like when it was created. When an object is discovered or located it is not usually whole and complete. Reconstructing an object allows further study of a culture and society when we might not get a complete understanding of otherwise. The Ishtar Gate would never have been as appreciated or studied as it is today had there not been a reconstruction. It is one thing for an artist to draw what an object might have looked like, but when an object such as the gate is reconstructed, it allows people to get a better understanding of the size, shape, look, and importance of the object. As I was reconstructing the gate, I learned more about it and now have a better understanding of the city of Babylon, the gate, and the religious importance of the gate and religious ceremonies.

Damon, Duane. 1993. “The great restorer: Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon.” Calliope 4, no. 1: 34.
MasterFILE Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed April 18, 2015).

Garcia, Brittany. “Ishtar Gate,” Ancient History Encyclopedia. Last modified August 23, 2013.
http://www.ancient.eu /Ishtar_Gate/.

Harris, Dr. Beth and Zucker, Dr. Steven. “Ishtar gate and Processional Way.” Khan Academy
video, 6:49. April 2, 2012.
https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/ancient-art-civilizations/ancient-near-east1/ba
bylonian/v/ishtar-gate-and-processional-way-reconstruction-babylon-c-575-b-c-e

King, Leo. 2008. “The Ishtar Gate.” Ceramics Technical no. 26: 51-53. Academic Search
Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed April 18, 2015).


The Hanging Gardens: One of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World

The other prominent endeavor believed to have been constructed under Nebuchadnezzar's direction was the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Consisting of tiered gardens of trees, vines, and all manner of flowers, the Hanging Gardens were a feat within the Neo-Babylonian world as an oasis in the center of the capital city. Most scholars believe that, if in fact Nebuchadnezzar II was the one who planned the creation of the Hanging Gardens, it was for his wife Amytis, his queen from Media, located near ancient Persia.

Illustration of the "Mythical Hanging Gardens of Babylon" (1901) ( Wikimedia Commons )

One of the reasons the credit cannot be assuredly given to Nebuchadnezzar for the creation of the gardens is the lack of Babylonian evidence from his life, and indeed the gardens themselves. The earliest description of the gardens comes from 290 BC, centuries after Nebuchadnezzar's death, from the work of a Babylonian priest, Berossus. However, Berossus' work had by then long been lost, and his words are only recorded secondhand, by other authors writing even later. Thus it is not known if Berossus even laid eyes upon the gardens, or if he too heard of them secondhand, as such a long time had passed between his writings to be certain.

Records that survive give no certain description of the specifics of the gardens, but rather an overall picture of a green paradise that "sloped like a hillside and…resembled that of a theater" and that was the widely believed basis on which Greek and Roman authors such as Strabo later built.

Miniature reconstruction of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon ( Bridget McKinney/Flickr )


Art History

Homo sapiens sapiens artists chewed a piece of charcoal to dilute it with saliva and water. Then they blew out the mixture on the surface of a wall, using their hands as stencils.

Prehistoric Era: Neolithic Period

Fired lime plaster with cowrie shell, bitumen, and paint

Prehistoric Era: Neolithic Period - Bronze Age

Prehistoric Era: Neolithic period

The woman: wide-hipped and big-bellied, she sits directly on the ground. She exudes stability, and her ample hips and thighs seem to ensure the continuity of her family. But in a lively gesture, she joins her hands on one raised knee, curls up her toes, and tilts her head upward.

Early Mesopotamia
Near East Bronze Age

Ancient Near East Art: Sumer

sixth or fifth-millennium bce

Sumerian ziggurats: huge, usually stepped structures with a temple or shrine on top.

The first ziggurats may have developed from the practice of repeated rebuilding at a sacred site, with rubble from one structure serving as the foundation for the next. Elevating the buildings also protected the shrines from flooding.

Towering ziggurats proclaimed the wealth, prestige, and stability of a city's rulers and glorified its gods.


ART PERIODS AND MOVEMENTS: A Brief History and Overview

Artworks from various Art Movements - photo by Artyfactory

The documented art history is divided into several periods and movements. The two major differences between the two are time and intent. The known art periods are based on historical eras or ages and, in contrast to art movements that are consciously formed by artists themselves-groups formed unconsciously due to being in the same timelines. In definition, a movement is the tendency or style in art having a specific similar philosophy or goal. This is then followed by a group of artists during a restricted period of time usually a few months, years or decades or within the heyday of the movement defined within a number of years.

What is the purpose of art?

The Creation of Adam, a scene from Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling – photo by Wikipedia

The main purpose of works of art is to communicate ideas that touch on different human perceptions such as politics, spirituality or philosophically motivated art so to create a sense of beauty that explores the nature of perception, either for pleasure or to generate strong human emotions. However, sometimes the purpose may seemingly be nonexistent.

Major Types of Art through the Periods and Movements

Some of the different well-developed types of art include animation, architecture, assemblage, calligraphy, ceramics, computer, Christian or religious, conceptual, artistic design, drawing, folk, graffiti, graphic, illuminated manuscript, illustration, mosaic, painting, performance, photography, sculpture, stained glass, tapestry and video.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF ART PERIODS

These are periods that are grouped according to their timeline, characteristics, chief artists and major works and historical events that happened during these periods respectively.

Early Art Periods (Pre- Christ)

1. Stone Age (30,000 b.c.–2500 b.c.)

Red Cow & First Chinese Horse, Lascaux Cave – photo by N. Aujoulat | Lascaux Cave

Cave painting, fertility goddesses, and megalithic structures

Lascaux Cave Painting, Woman of Willendorf, Stonehenge

Ice Age ends (10,000 b.c.–8,000 b.c.)

New Stone Age and first permanent settlements (8000 b.c.–2500b.c.)

2. Mesopotamian (3500 b.c.–539 b.c.)

Warrior art and narration in stone relief

Standard of Ur, Gate of Ishtar, Stele of Hammurabi’s Code

Sumerians invent writing (3400 b.c.) Hammurabi writes his law code (1780 b.c.) Abraham founds monotheism

3. Egyptian (3100 b.c.–30 b.c.)

A view of the pyramids at Giza – photo by All Gizah Pyramids | Wikipedia

Art with an afterlife focus: pyramids and tomb painting

Imhotep, Step Pyramid, Great Pyramids, Bust of Nefertiti

Narmer unites Upper/Lower Egypt (3100 b.c.) Rameses II battles the Hittites (1274 b.c.) Cleopatra dies (30 b.c.)

4. Greek and Hellenistic (850 b.c.–31 b.c.)

Greek idealism: balance, perfect proportions architectural orders(Doric, Ionic, Corinthian)

Parthenon, Myron, Phidias, Polykleitos, Praxiteles

Athens defeats Persia at Marathon (490 b.c.)

Peloponnesian Wars (431 b.c.–404 b.c.) Alexander the Great’s conquests (336 b.c.–323 b.c.)

5. Roman (500 b.c.– a.d. 476)

The Colosseum, Rome – photo by Britannica

Roman realism: practical and down to earth the arch

Augustus of Primaporta, Colosseum, Trajan’s Column, Pantheon

Julius Caesar assassinated (44 b.c.) Augustus proclaimed Emperor (27 b.c.)

Diocletian splits Empire (a.d. 292) Rome falls (a.d. 476)

6. Indian, Chinese, and Japanese(653 b.c.–a.d. 1900)

Serene, meditative art, and Arts of the Floating World Gu Kaizhi, Li Cheng, Guo Xi, Hokusai, Hiroshige

Birth of Buddha (563 b.c.) Silk Road opens (1st century b.c.)

Buddhism spreads to China (1st–2nd centuries a.d.) and Japan (5th century a.d.)

Art Periods of Post Christ Age

1. Byzantine and Islamic (a.d. 476–a.d.1453)

Mosque of Cordoba – photo by Lumen Learning

Heavenly Byzantine mosaics Islamic architecture and amazing maze-like design

Hagia Sophia, Andrei Rublev, Mosque of Córdoba, the Alhambra

Justinian partly restores Western Roman Empire (a.d. 533–a.d. 562) Iconoclasm Controversy (a.d. 726–a.d. 843)

Birth of Islam (a.d. 610) and Muslim Conquests (a.d. 632–a.d. 732)

2. Medieval/Middle Ages (300–1400)

Celtic art, Carolingian Renaissance, Romanesque, Gothic

St. Sernin, Durham Cathedral, Notre Dame, Chartres, Cimabue,

Duccio, Giotto Viking Raids (793–1066)

Hundred Years’ War (1337–1453)

3. Early and High Renaissance (1400–1550)

Mona Lisa, by Leonardo da Vinci – photo by Wikipedia

Rebirth of classical culture

Ghiberti’s Doors, Brunelleschi, Donatello, Botticelli, Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael Gutenberg invents movable type (1447) Turks conquer Constantinople (1453) Columbus lands in New World (1492) Martin Luther starts Reformation (1517)

Venetian and Northern Renaissance (1430–1550)

The Renaissance spreads northward to France, the Low Countries, Poland, Germany, and England

Bellini, Giorgione, Titian, Dürer, Bruegel, Bosch, Jan van Eyck, Rogier van der Weyden Council of Trent and Counter-Reformation (1545–1563)

Copernicus proves the Earth revolves around the Sun (1543

4. Mannerism (1527–1580)

Art that breaks the rules artifice over nature

Tintoretto, El Greco, Pontormo, Bronzino, Cellini

Magellan circumnavigates the globe (1520–1522)

5. Baroque (1600–1750)

Splendor and flourish for God art as a weapon in the religious wars

Reubens, Rembrandt, Caravaggio, Palace of Versailles Thirty Years’ War between Catholics and Protestants (1618–1648)

6. Neoclassical (1750–1850)

Oath of the Horatii, Jacques-Louis David, 1784-85 – photo by Wikipedia

Art that recaptures Greco-Roman grace and grandeur

David, Ingres, Greuze, Canova

Enlightenment (18th century) Industrial Revolution (1760–1850)

7. Romanticism (1780–1850)

The triumph of imagination and individuality

Caspar Friedrich, Gericault, Delacroix, Turner, Benjamin West

American Revolution (1775–1783)

French Revolution (1789–1799)

Napoleon crowned emperor of France (1803)

8. Realism (1848–1900)

A Burial at Ornans, Gustave Courbet, 1850 – photo by Learnodo Newtonic

Celebrating working class and peasants en plein air rustic painting

Corot, Courbet, Daumier, Millet

European democratic revolutions of 1848

9. Impressionism (1865–1885)

Capturing fleeting effects of natural light

Monet, Manet, Renoir, Pissarro, Cassatt, Morisot, Degas

Franco-Prussian War (1870–1871) Unification of Germany (1871)

Modernist Art Movements

Post-Impressionism (1885–1910)

The Starry Night, Vincent van Gogh, 1889 – photo by Wikipedia

A soft revolt against Impressionism

Van Gogh, Gauguin, Cézanne, Seurat Belle Époque (late-19th-century Golden Age)

Japan defeats Russia (1905)

Fauvism and Expressionism (1900–1935)

Harsh colours and flat surfaces (Fauvism) emotion distorting form

Matisse, Kirchner, Kandinsky, Marc

Boxer Rebellion in China (1900) World War (1914–1918)

Cubism, Futurism, Supremativism, Constructivism, De Stijl (1905–1920)

Pre– and Post–World War 1 art experiments: new forms to express modern life

Picasso, Braque, Leger, Boccioni, Severini, Malevich

Russian Revolution (1917) American women franchised (1920)

Dada and Surrealism (1917–1950)

The Persistence of Memory, by Salvador Dalí, 1931 – photo by Encyclopedia Britannica

Ridiculous art painting dreams and exploring the unconscious

Duchamp, Dalí, Ernst, Magritte, de Chirico, Kahlo

Disillusionment after World War I

The Great Depression (1929–1938)

World War II (1939–1945) and Nazi horrors

atomic bombs dropped on Japan (1945)

Abstract Expressionism (1940s–1950s) and Pop Art (1960s)

Post–World War II: pure abstraction and expression without form popular art absorbs consumerism

Gorky, Pollock, de Kooning, Rothko, Warhol, Lichtenstein

Cold War and Vietnam War (U.S. enters 1965)

U.S.S.R. suppresses Hungarian revolt (1956) Czechoslovakian revolt (1968)

Postmodernism and Deconstructivism (1970– )

1024 Colours, Gerhard Richter, 1973 – photo by oceanandmartin.com


Ishtar Gate (Artist's Impression) - History

Artisans played an important role in the culture of the Mesopotamian people. They made everyday useful items like dishes, pots, clothing, baskets, boats, and weapons. They also created works of art meant to glorify the gods and the king.

The most common material for Mesopotamian artists was clay. Clay was used for pottery, monumental buildings, and tablets used to record history and legends.

The Mesopotamians developed their skills in pottery over thousands of years. At first they used their hands to make simple pots. Later they learned how to use a potter's wheel. They also used high temperature ovens to harden the clay. They learned how to make different shapes, glazes, and patterns. Soon their pottery turned into works of art.

Fine jewelry was a status symbol in Ancient Mesopotamia. Both men and women wore jewelry. Jewelers used fine gemstones, silver, and gold to make intricate designs. They made all sorts of jewelry including necklaces, earrings, and bracelets.

Around 3000 BC the metal workers of Mesopotamia learned how to make bronze by mixing tin and copper. They would melt the metal at very high temperatures and then poor it into moulds to make all sorts of items including tools, weapons, and sculptures.

Carpenters were important craftsmen in Ancient Mesopotamia. The most important items were made with imported wood such as cedar wood from Lebanon. They built palaces for the kings using cedar. They also constructed chariots for war and ships to travel on the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers.

Many fine pieces of wooden craftsmanship were decorated with inlays. They would take small pieces of glass, gems, shells, and metal to make beautiful and shiny decorations on items like furniture, religious pieces, and musical instruments.

Some of the best surviving work of Mesopotamian art and craftsmanship was carved by stonemasons. They carved everything from large sculptures to small detailed reliefs. Most of the sculptures had religious or historical significance. They were usually of the gods or the king.

They also carved small detailed cylinder stones that were used as seals. These seals were quite small because they were used as signatures. They were also quite detailed so they couldn't be easily copied.


Ishtar at The Dinner Party

Ishtar, the great Goddess of Mesopotamia, is represented at The Dinner Party through architectural motifs. The geometric forms of her runner are taken directly from the Babylonian Ishtar Gate, and the earlier Ziggurat of Ur, dedicated to the moon god Nanna according to one tradition, he was the divine father of Ishtar/Inanna. The stepped edges mimic the ascending stepped levels of a ziggurat, while the interior edge of the arch is done in brick stitch, a reference to the glazed tiles that cover the Ishtar Gate. The architectural motif suggests civilization’s advancement and its relationship to goddess worship. Advancements resulted in a more organized form of goddess worship, which increased Ishtar’s role in ancient society. The runner is outlined in black braid, which also acknowledges the ancient technique of braiding.

The colors of the plate and runner, mainly shades of gold with green highlights, were chosen as Ishtar’s colors. The gold represents her grandeur and also echoes some of the colors of the Mesopotamian architecture and landscape, while green is her sacred color. On the plate, she is depicted as the positive female creator with multiple breast-like forms that allude to her role as a giver of life. These forms are paralleled in the stitching around the capital letter, done in Italian shading.

Because Ishtar is usually identified as a later form of Inanna, a Sumerian goddess, there are many similarities between their myths and artistic representations. The two are often seen as one goddess with one tradition. In much of the literature, they are referred to as a single being, Ishtar/Inanna or Inanna/Ishtar. In The Dinner Party, however, Judy Chicago has chosen to represent them as two separate entities. Inanna can be found on the Heritage Floor as one of the names related to Ishtar.


Ancient Babylonia by R. Russell

2 Kin 24:13-14 "And Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon carried out from there all the treasures of the house of the LORD and the treasures of the king's house, and he cut in pieces all the articles of gold which Solomon king of Israel had made in the temple of the LORD, as the LORD had said. Also he carried into captivity all Jerusalem: all the captains and all the mighty men of valor, ten thousand captives, and all the craftsmen and smiths. None remained except the poorest people of the land."


Main Article

Mesopotamian Sculpture

Mesopotamian sculpture features a distinct stylized aesthetic (see Realism vs. Stylization). As in most of the world's traditional visual art, figures are typically presented either front-on or side-on. Simple textures are often achieved through repetition of lines or dots.

Many statues and reliefs were produced by Mesopotamian sculptors perhaps the most impressive works are the majestic portal guardians . ("Portal" is an architectural term for "doorway".)

While portal guardians are three-dimensional at the front, their sides are only carved in relief. 4 They take the form of animals (real or imaginary) or animals with human heads. (Animal-human hybrids are another common feature of traditional art throughout the world. G48 )

The Role of Architecture

The pre-industrial world featured three main types of large-scale architecture: palaces (royal residences), temples (buildings devoted to religious activity), and royal tombs . Often, two of these types (or even all three) were combined in a single building. In many palaces and temples, some rooms were used for secondary activities, such as commercial business, manufacturing, or food storage.

The architectural term complex denotes a cluster of buildings, which may stand separately or attached. A tomb complex, for instance, might contain dozens of tombs, as well as accompanying structures (e.g. shrines, monuments). A palace complex might feature multiple palaces, as well as administrative buildings (e.g. offices, meeting halls) and defensive structures (e.g. walls, towers).

Art and architecture were harnessed by all civilizations to reinforce the power and legitimacy of the state and its ruler. The sheer size of a city's buildings would communicate its might (to both native inhabitants and any would-be invaders), while murals and sculptures often illustrated divine approval (or even full-blown divinity) of the monarch. In many societies, the power of the monarch and priestly class was periodically reaffirmed through dramatic ceremonies conducted in the presence of monumental art and architecture.

Mesopotamian Architecture

As Mesopotamia is virtually devoid of stone, bricks (made from clay or mud) were the primary construction material. 4 (Clay and mud are both a mixture of earth and water clay is simply finer-grained.) Consequently, little survives of Mesopotamian architecture. Large-scale Egyptian and Greek buildings, on the other hand, were generally built from stone, making them far more durable.

The most distinctive type of Mesopotamian architecture is the ziggurat, a structure shaped like a stepped pyramid. A ziggurat typically featured little or no interior space, instead serving mainly as a platform for a temple. The exterior of a ziggurat was often decorated with glazed tiles, murals, or mosaics, and landscaped with trees and gardens. G46,1,41

The two main traditional forms of building construction are post-and-beam (in which the roof rests on columns) and arched (in which the roof rests on arches). While stone and wood (both scarce materials in Mesopotamia) are well-suited to post-and-beam construction, bricks are not consequently, Mesopotamian buildings were almost exclusively arched. This again contrasts with Egypt and Greece, which both favoured post-and-beam construction.

One quality shared by Mesopotamian and Egyptian architecture was the flat roof, a common feature of architecture in desert regions (given negligible precipitation). 38

The Mesopotamians erected many splendid palaces and temples , but showed little interest in monumental tombs (unlike their Egyptian neighbours). Within a Mesopotamian city, much of the architecture (including palaces, temples, and city walls) was often linked together, forming a vast municipal complex. The architectural bulk of a Mesopotamian city was relieved with spacious courtyards. D30

The greatest surviving work of Mesopotamian architecture is the Ishtar Gate , one of a series of gates that guarded the route into the heart of Babylon (during the Neo-Babylonian period). Coated in glazed blue tiles, the gate is graced with reliefs of lions, bulls, and dragons, providing a taste of the glazed-tile decoration that once coated large portions of Mesopotamian palaces, temples, and ziggurats. G125 Like other Mesopotamian gates and defensive walls, the Ishtar gate features a flat roof (upon which defenders could stand) edged with a battlement (a wall with regular gaps, providing defenders with shelter).


Ishtar Gate and Processional Way. Istanbul Archaeology Museum, Turkey

We decided to visit the Istanbul Archaeology Museums on the grounds of the Topkapı Palace outer gardens. Inside, they have a breathtaking collection of glazed brick reliefs from ancient Babylon. Many major museums around the world have lion reliefs from the processional way but in Istanbul they have bulls and &ldquodragons from the actual gate. The Ishtar Gate, named after a Mesopotamian goddess of love and war, was one of eight gateways that provided entry to the inner city of Babylon during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar II (reign 605-562 BC). It was decorated with glazed blue bricks that depicted alternating rows of bulls and dragons. A processional way went through this gateway and was decorated, in part, with reliefs of lions. Every spring a procession that included the king, members of his court, priests and statues of the gods traveled to the &ldquoAkitu&rdquo temple to celebrate the New Year&rsquos festival. The Processional Way was paved with red and yellow stones inscribed with a prayer from Nebuchadnezzar to Marduk and flanked by soaring walls of enameled tiles decorated with lions and flowers.

City model of the main procession street (Aj-ibur-shapu) towards Ishtar Gate in Babylon. Model at the Pergamonmuseum. Photo Wikipdedia

The Assyrian empire fell before the combined onslaughts of Babylonians and Medes in 614 and 612 B.C. In the empire's final days, Nabopolassar (r. 625&mdash605 B.C.), who had been in Assyrian service, established a new dynasty with its capital in Babylon. During the reign of his son, Nebuchadnezzar II (604-562 B.C.), the Neo-Babylonian empire reached its peak. By the reign of Nebuchadnezzar II, the city of Babylon had existed for almost 2,000 years and had seen its share of good and bad times. Nebuchadnezzar II came to the throne at a time when Babylon was achieving unparalleled prosperity. By the end of his reign, the city would control an empire that extended, in an arc, from the Egyptian border to the Persian Gulf. The city&rsquos good fortune meant that Nebuchadnezzar II was able to embark on a building program that would see an older Ishtar Gate torn down and a new one, with blue glazed bricks, constructed. He also built a new processional way that went through the gate. The Ishtar Gate, built by Nebuchadnezzar II, was a glazed-brick structure decorated with figures of bulls and dragons, symbols of Adad, the weather god, and Marduk. The relief of a lion, the animal associated with Ishtar, goddess of love and war, served to protect the street its repeated design served as a guide for the ritual processions from the city to the temple.

1932 Photograph of the Ishtar Gate from the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.

Ishtar Inner Gate. Pergamon Museum, Berlin

Ishtar Inner Gate. Pergamon Museum, Berlin

The gate was excavated between 1899 and 1917 by a German archaeological team led by Robert Koldewey. After World War I part of the gateway, the smaller antegate, was reconstructed in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin and is on public display. Additionally, the museum has the remains of the larger inner gate, which rose an estimated 25 meters (82 feet) off the ground from the roadway to the top of its towers. German archaeologists worked at the site for 20 years, until the outbreak of WWI. They took with them many treasures, including most of the friezes, each depicting a golden lion, which lined Babylon's Procession Street. There were 120 of them, 60 on each side. The Germans took 118. The French took a share of Babylon's treasures to the Louvre and the British helped themselves between the wars, when Iraq was a British protectorate.

Processional Babylon Lion. Istanbul Archaeology Museum, Turkey

Processional Babylon Lion. Istanbul Archaeology Museum, Turkey

Processional Babylon Lion. Istanbul Archaeology Museum, Turkey

When Koldewey began the archeological excavation in Babylon, he found a mound of earth or tell with hundreds of colored brick fragments. Koldeway, his assistant Walter Andrae, and an army of workers had to work for years to reconstruct the architecture of Babylon. The fragments that Koldewey found at the excavation site seemed to indicate lost works of art. Koldewey also unearthed fragments of colored brick from the area, which were identified as remnants of the Processional Way. The colored fragments of the Processional Way and the bas-relief of the Ishtar Gate did not match one another. It was therefore Andrae's job to sort out possible connections. We learn from Andrae's memoirs that he found the job particularly difficult there was no indication how the colored fragments could be assembled.

Assembly of the Babylon Brick Fragments into Figures and Ornaments of the Ishtar Gate of Babylon, 1928

The colored fragments were moved to Berlin, where they were cleaned and coated with paraffin in 1927. The following year Andrae entrusted the task of sorting and reassembling the fragments to an expert in sculpture-casting, Willy Struck. Together with 6-8 assistants and the &ldquopatience of angels&rdquo, they classified hundreds of thousands of pieces according to types of animal or decorative motif. Thus eye pieces were all put together, tail pieces and so on, regardless of where they were found. The implication was that all the lions had been cast from the same mold and then would be recreated in the same form. The face of each brick had to be reconstituted from 6-7 fragments which may or may not have been together originally. When no fragment from the pool seemed adequate to fill in the missing part, Andrae used modern bricks manufactured by three factories near Berlin.

Lion Frieze from the Palace of Darius I, Persepolis 510 BC. Louvre, Paris. Photo by John Malyon

Glazed brick was fired at least twice, perhaps three times. The first firing formed a tile body called a &ldquobisque&rdquo. The biscuit firing had the highest temperature at 1060 C that fixed the tiles for size and shape. After glazing the tiles were glost fired at about 1020-1240 C. Glaze decoration was fired at 750 C, just before the glaze began to melt. Note the similarity of the Persian lion above, probably created in Babylon, to the Babylonian lions of Nebuchadnezzar. Blue was an unusual and highly valued color in Babylon due to the blue color of the rare and highly expensive lapis lazuli. The appearance of an entire street and gate in blue would have been exotic, expensive looking and made the Processional Way one of the seven wonders of the world until it was displaced by the lighthouse in Alexandria.

Processional Lion from Babylon. Louvre, Paris

Processional Lion from Babylon. Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Processional Lions from Babylon. Pergamon Museum, Berlin

Andrae offered two &ldquoexemplars&rdquo as he called them, to the Istanbul Archaeology Museum and the Baghdad Museum in Iraq because these institutions negotiated the division of finds before and after the war. Others were sent to Vienna, Paris, Coppenhagen, Gothenburg and to Chicago, New York and other US museums.

Complete reconstructed panel from Nebuchadnezzar&rsquos throne room on display at the Vorderasiatisches Museum, Berlin. Pacing lions emphasized the power and might of the Babylonian king. © Vorderasiatisches Museum &ndash SMB, photograph by Olaf M. Teßmer

Lion reconstructed panel from Nebuchadnezzar&rsquos throne room on display at the Vorderasiatisches Museum, Berlin. Pacing lions emphasized the power and might of the Babylonian king. © Vorderasiatisches Museum &ndash SMB, photograph by Olaf M. Teßmer

Interestingly, the British Museum does not have a lion, although in December of 2013 they hosted an exhibition from the Vorderasiatische Museum (Pergamon Museum), Berlin. Note the upturned tail in this reconstruction.

Auroch from the Ishtar Gate. Istanbul Archaeology Museum, Turkey

Auroch from the Ishtar Gate. Istanbul Archaeology Museum, Turkey

Auroch from the Ishtar Gate. Istanbul Archaeology Museum, Turkey

The figures on the actual Ishatar Gate were a completely different matter compared to the lions of the Processional Way. Unlike the Processional Way, where no lions had remained intact, Koldewey unearthed a number of dragon and bull figures on the foundations of the gate, which had been stripped of their color and glazing. Koldewey estimated that at least 13 rows of alternating dragon and bull figures had decorated the gate. The walls of the gate are ornamented with reliefs of aurochs, the holy animal of the god Adad, and the dragon sirrush (or mushhushshu), the holy animal of Babylon's chief god, Marduk. Meanwhile, the reliefs of lion, the holy animal of the goddess Ishtar, were ornamenting the two sides of the Processional Way. The monumental way started from the Temple of Marduk in the city center, passing the Ishtar Gate and ending at the &ldquofeast house&rdquo outside the city wall, where the New Year's celebration was held. Aurochs are the ancestors of modern cattle, in this case bulls.

Mu&scaronḫu&scaron&scaronu or Dragon of Marduk, Relief from Ishtar Gate. Istanbul Archaeology Museum, Turkey

Mu&scaronḫu&scaron&scaronu or Dragon of Marduk, Relief from Ishtar Gate. Istanbul Archaeology Museum, Turkey

Mu&scaronḫu&scaron&scaronu or Dragon of Marduk, Relief from Ishtar Gate. Istanbul Archaeology Museum, Turkey

The dragon-like creature was called &ldquoMu&scaronḫu&scaron&scaronu.&rdquo This creature is the &ldquosacred hybrid&rdquo of Marduk, the imperial god of Babylon who had a large temple in the city, and his son Nabu. The Mu&scaronḫu&scaron&scaronu was viewed as a menacing hybrid with leonine features and a snake&rsquos head which spouted two erect horns or a long horn, bent back with a curling end. Its long forked tongue sometimes hung from its mouth or, alternatively, was depicted as if spitting fire. Note the relatively intact bricks of the dragons, these must have come from the foundations of the Ishtar gate.


Watch the video: Στην Αθήνα η Μόνικα Μπελούτσι - Θα ενσαρκώσει την Μαρία Κάλλας. Όλα Γκουντ. 19092021 (May 2022).