Comparison of Ancient Mesopotamian and Egyptian Art

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The artworks of Ancient Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt are both strikingly different and similar at the same time. Consistent is the theme of serving the different gods the two cultures believed in. In Mesopotamia the various city-states each had their own protective deity, and in Egypt they sometimes differed from one dynasty to the next. Whatever the case, with the beginning of kingdoms and rulership came the need to justify a position of power and establish a hierarchy. And as more time passed came also the human need to leave an impression on their world. Looking at the example of the statues of Gudea from the Neo-Sumerian period and the Temple of Ramses II from the New Kingdom of Egypt in the 19th dynasty, will show how both rulers of these times chose to commemorate their life's work and what insight those choices give current civilizations into the mind-set of their respective cultures.

The "Seated statue of Gudea, holding temple plan," also known as "The architect with a plan," is an excellent example of the Neo-Sumerian ruler's attempt to immortalize, but more importantly, to ingratiate himself to the Gods. Constructed around 2100 BCE, this statue is but one of a series of more than 20 diorite (extremely hard, difficult stone to work with) statues commissioned by Gudea the fourth ruler of the Sumerian dynasty of Lagash. Headless and sitting very upright on what appears to be a stool (as opposed to a thrown), the statue stands roughly at 2'5" tall, nearly life size. He is dressed in a kaunakes, or "thick cloak," with his right shoulder left bare and cuneiform inscriptions covering both the skirt of the cloak and the stool. The hands, with elongated fingers, are clasped as if praying, and his bare feet also with elongated digits, are resting together. On his lap sits a temple plan drawn on a tablet. Even though the proportions of the statue's fingers, toes, and presumably the head (other statues of Gudea have oversized heads) are off, there is a...
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