Creativity and other aspects of art and craft work has been very dynamic since the primitive and ancient civilization period to the modern day and also varying from down-to-earth and sacred to modernist abstract. The history of sculpturing activities date back to about 4000 years ago and it appears to have begun in the are around the gulf valley between river Tigris and Euphrates where strong empires were first established including Persian, Chaldean, Assyrian, Sumerian and Babylon empires. Portrait Sculptures
There are many portraits that were excavated in the ancient times and some of the examples include artistic work diorite on marble, hammered gold, diorite and lapis lazuli. The artistic works from the Sumerian art are much idealized in terms of the external features and they date back to 2400 BC. The works of art carried out in the Sumerian era appear to have taken in a lot of creativity and a definite form of architecture and was quite elaborate and also complicated (Bailey 2005 & Evans 2007)).
Clay was the most readily available material and due to this, it was commonly used for sculpturing since other materials like wood, metals and carving stones had to b e imported from abroad. Other forms of art included drawings and paintings. The subjects of the sculpturing were mainly patricians and particularly the political rulers (emperors). The copies of the sculptures were distributed all over the empire for instance in the Roman Empire, the portrait sculpture entrenched the roman civic intrinsic worth and set the standard for the other nations public portrait sculpture since then (Bailey 2005).
The most notable is the portrait of Emperor Constantine. Most of the art work that was obtained during the destruction of the empires in the barbarian invasion and Christian transformation; the materials used to make the sculptures were lime and bronze, the marble was burnt to lime while bronze was melted for other uses. Other important portraits were discovered in the countries that are found in the gulf region and these forms of art were basically Sumerian type and Akkadian types and dated back to 24,000 to 22,000 BC when the Babylon kingdoms flourished in the Middle East (Evans 2007).
Tell Asmar Portraits The sculptures described as tell Asmar portraits were discovered in the gulf region that is between river Tigris and river Euphrates (Mesopotamia) at a site known Tell Asmar. The statues were the most realistic of the ancient sculptures and they measured about 42 centimeters average height. The eyes were clearly engraved and appeared to be protruding with clutched hands (Bailey 2005). Initially, most of the portrait sculptures were made using material like soft stone, ivory and even clay.
As the Sumerian and Akkadian art developed during the early age civilization, ballast, sandstone, diorites and alabaster became popular materials for use in sculpture making. However some sculptures were identified as being high quality and for these reason the material used were expensive and long lasting; the material for such high quality portraits included gold, silver, copper and several precious stones (Evans 2007). Clay was a material that was used to make pots and terra cotta sculptures while stone was not commonly used since it was scarce and had to be imported from other empires.
The portraits discovered at Tell Asmar as mentioned had staring eyes and the mens statues had a distinct beard. The recent statues than were found in 2700 BC revealed that the materials used were votive stones and were excavated in royal cemetery at Ur. Other sculptures were made from gypsum (calcium sulphate), in the ancient times, gypsum was heated to about 300 degrees Fahrenheit and turned to white powder commonly referred to as plaster of Paris, the powder is mixed with water to make a semi solid substance that can be modeled into a sculpture(Bailey 2005). Some of the statues are preserved in museums.
King Tutankhamun Portrait The portrait of king Tutankhamun is widely appreciated form of art that was used for religious purpose during the mummification of the Pharaoh. Tutankhamun was a powerful pharaoh in Egypt in the 18th dynasty which lasted between 1333 BC and 1324 BC. He is identified as the eighteenth dynasty king in the history of Egypt. The discovery of the kings tomb in 1922 by Howard carter brought about increased interest in the history of Egypt and the works of art. After the death of Egyptian pharaohs, they were preserved by the process of mummification so as to prevent decay (Cox 2004).
The making of portrait in Egypt was unique especially the pharaoh mummies. The making of a mummy was a king of magical procedure that lead to instantaneous mummification and loss of life force from the kings body. Other objects in the tomb of the pharaoh included baskets of doum fruit (its a product of palm tree) customarily offered during funerals (Cox 2004). The kings official seal was made of clay which is assumed to have contained treasures that the pharaoh had to travel with to the heavens in his eternal being.
King Tutankhamun commonly referred to as King Tut was very young at the time of his death. This is evidenced by the mammy that was unearthed covered in linen and preserved by mummification. The body was kept in a sarcophagus (a stone box in which a coffin can be kept). King Tuts sarcophagus was made using yellow quartzite and was made of three coffins made of pure gold. The kings face was reconstructed from the mummy and the body still lies in the valley of kings where his tomb is and the temperature is regulated to prevent further decay (Bailey 2005).
The statues from Sumerian art in Tell Asmar appeared to be realistic, the pharaohs mummy is stylish and ideal as it did not make use of other material rather the real body preservation. In the year 2005, a team of scientists developed the facial likeness of the king using computer tonography scan of the Pharaohs skull. King Sargon Most of the early works of art were originally discovered during the early civilization as the works of art are related to the evolution of writing and other historical occurrences like the agrarian revolution.
Sargon King ruled Akkadian dynasty in the region famously known as Mesopotamia during the period between 2340 and 2305 BC. This dynasty is believed to have been established by Sargon and it existed for about 160 years following its foundation. Sargon was one of the powerful leaders during his reign and he established a strong Semitic dynasty in the gulf region (Bailey 2005). His portrait was made as a monument to remember him throughout the empire. His rule faced a lot of rebellion and at his death; many believed that it was a punitive measure from the gods.
The portrait was made to sit on a hard slab and the hand were clasped in the position of making a prayer and was naked above the waist with a skirt inquisitively made to appear as overlapping to indicate thick coat. This is because the men generally wore skirts weaved from wool and those of higher ranks had a toga like piece of clothe that was used to cover the shoulders (Evans 2007). As expected, the portrait had a long and heavy beard and long hair and these were basically painted black.
The eyes were curved out clearly and that they eyebrows could be seen distinctively as emphasized with inlay that was colored. The carvings in the near east and middle east were very attractive and are considered to be very stylish as the features are very distinct and clearly engraved compared to the Egyptian sculptures which were basically slabs. The stylish carving in the Akkadian empire has been attributed to the fact that stones for sculpturing were very rare and therefore the few that could be obtained had to be given maximum attention and highest standard of creativity (Bailey 2005).
It is clear that those portraits from Sumerian and Akkadian empire are very stylistic in design and the distinction can be drawn from the Egyptian types which are mostly blocks standing freely and mostly having basic geometric shapes. There being deficiency in stones, the sculptors in Sumerian dynasty and Akkadian empires relied on other alternative material like metals, wax copper and gypsum. These materials required a lot of attention and as such the stimulated sense of creativity idealism and style.
Having to model clay, cast metals and heat gypsum to melt them in order to make the sculptures enabled the Tell Asmar people and those from other parts of Mesopotamia learnt to conserved the material hence making to make very good sculptures that utilized the little material that could be obtained(Bailey 2005). Conclusion The creation of sculptures developed different styles of making sculptures during the ancient times and the development of the dynasties in the near and middle east. The significant examples include the Tall Al asmar sculptures which are simply primitive forms of geometry. The progress of this lead to smoothening of curves and indicating naturalism and finally the dynasty showed attempts of portraiture
References Bailey D. (2005). Prehistoric Figurines. Representation and Corporeality in the Neolithic. Routledge Publishers. Cox B. (2004). Constructing Kingship in Ancient Near Eastern Visual Culture. Art History. Dartmouth College. Evans J. M. (2007). The Square Temple at Tell Asmar and the Construction of Early Dynastic Mesopotamia. Ca 29000 to 2350 American Journal of Archeology.