Victory Stele of Naram Sin-2250 (2-13)
According to Artlex Art Dictionary, iconography is the pictorial representation of a subject or the collected images illustrating a subject. It can refer to both content and subject and, in art history, can represent a visual record of subject matter or historical events (“Iconography”). One of the most significant examples of royal iconography is the Victory Stele of Naram-Sin (figure 1). A stele is a carved stone block or pillar used to commemorate a historical event or person (“Stele”). The Victory stele of Naram-Sin is a 6’7” tall monument composed of pink sandstone that celebrates the triumph of King Naram-Sin over the mountain people of Lullubi (Kleiner 26). This artifact dates back to c. 2200 BC and the narrative tells the story of an Akkadian king leading his troops up the steep slopes of a mountain and mercilessly crushing his enemies. According to Kleiner, Naram-Sin’s storming the mountain symbolizes “scaling the ladder to the heavens,” the theory similar to the motivation behind the ziggurat towers of the ancient Near East (26). The Neolithic revolution brought a fundamental change in the daily lives of the Mesopotamian people. This time period (2900 to 2350 BC) saw the Sumerians transform the valley between the Tigris & Euphrates into a dozen or so city-states (figure 2). These competing city-states were controlled by different rulers who honored different gods and goddesses. The art of this time period reflected reverence of gods who reside above the world of humans as depicted on the chiseled steles, lyres decorated with lapis lazuli and cylinder seals recovered from the temples of Sumer (Kleiner 18-20). This ancient civilization is known for its development of urban civilization, writing, agriculture, and farming. Their revolutionary ideas moved us from prehistory to history with the creation of wedge-shaped signs (cuneiform) that formed the basis of written language (Kleiner 18)....
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