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Art has been a predominant feature in religious worship that has transcended ages.

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Art has been a predominant feature in religious worship that has transcended ages. The art of the Ancient near East depicts a clear picture of the history of significant arts and architecture that served an instrumental role in religious worship. These arts and architecture can be grouped into historic periods such as Assyrian, Neo-Babylonian, and Persian with technical and expressive qualities (Stokstad & Cothren, 2017). More importantly, in dissecting the importance of these artwork, it is prudent to analyze their purpose, iconography and cultural context. In this paper, some of the arts and architecture used in religious worship from Chapter 2: Ancient Near East that will be discussed include The ANU Ziggurat and White Temple, and Stele of Hammurabi

           The ruins of the ANU Ziggurat and White Temple are an example of significant art and architecture that were used in religious worship. The White Temple and its ziggurat is hosted in the ancient city of Uruk, the present Warka in Iraq. The Anu Ziggurat was a magnificent monument in the southern Mesopotamia on which the White Temple was built. Essentially, the White Temple was purposed for the Mesopotamia sky god known as Anu (Stokstad & Cothren, 2017). The Ziggurats were made of mud-bricks, which were the preferred building material in the Near East. The Ziggurats besides offering a visual focal point of the city, they also symbolized the theocratic political system, where a god was recognized as the ruler. Hence the iconography of the ziggurats was a visual connection to god or goodness honored in a given place. Religion was highly regarded in the ancient Mesopotamia culture. The Sumerians had the belief the gods were from the mountain, the reason why the ziggurats resembled mountains to house the gods, and be closer to the city (Strommenger & Hirmer, 1964). Given by the importance of religion in the Mesopotamia cultural context, the religious beliefs might have inspired people to participate in the construction of the project, but also there is a belief some sort of slavery was also used.


           The Stele of Hammurabi acts as both a code of law commissioned by Hammurabi, the 6th King of Babylon, and also acts as a piece of art. Hammurabi stands as an iconic ruler who feared God, and for that reason sought to bring righteousness in Babylon by receiving laws from Shamash the sun god (Besserat, 2009). The code of law was aimed to bring sanity in the land by destroying the evil-doers, in which a punishment was set aside for any evil through the law of a tooth for a tooth, and an eye for an eye. The Code of Hammurabi was created in a cultural context where there were lots of injustices and inequality in the social status. For that reason, the Code of Hammurabi symbolized a new government that recognized justice for and above all promoted righteousness in regard to respect for God (Stokstad & Cothren, 2017). Given that Hammurabi was fearful of God, he wanted to instill beliefs and right attitudes in the way humanity acted, especially on matters of evil doing and the corresponding punishments. More importantly, the Stele of Hammurabi sought to promote fairness, equality, and justice as god would want.

Stele of Hammurabi


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Besserat, D. (2009). Whe Writing Met Art: From Symbol to Story. NY: University of Texzas Presss.

Stokstad, M. & Cothren, M. (2017). Art History Vol 1 (6t Edition). NY: Pearson.

Strommenger, E., & Hirmer, M. (1964). The art of Mesopotamia. London: Thames and Hudson.  

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