Ancient Near Eastern Art at the Metropolitan Museum NYC

It’s a chilly, grey day here in Albuquerque; just the kind of day I’d love to spend at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, my favorite museum in the world (not that I’ve seen them all).  So the next best thing is to spend the day going through the many photos I took at the Met during a visit to NYC last June.

sumerian wall reliefWhenever I’m in New York, I always schedule a long visit to the Metropolitan’s Ancient Near Eastern Art Collection.  An 8,000 year time period is covered by this collection, ranging from the eighth millennium B.C. to the time of the Arab conquest in A.D. 651  These art works were created in Sumer, ancient Mesopotamia, Iran, Syria, Anatolia, and other lands in the region that extends from the Caucasus in the north to the southern Arabian peninsula in the south, and from western Turkey to the valley of the Indus River in Pakistan.

This art has inspired my own work for many years.  Their connection to the natural world, the central role of the Goddess in their society (though that changes over the millennia) and the odd combination of human and animal always gets my visual juices going.  I remember how excited I was the first time I saw a cylinder seal depicting the Sumerian Goddess, Inanna, whose story I have visualized in many paintings.  There She was, transported from the ancient world to a glass case for viewing by my modern eyes!

Inanna in Her Boat of Heaven

Inanna in Her Boat of Heaven, pastel and beeswax on paper, by Judith Shaw

Being an artist and not a scholar, I didn’t take any serious notes as I was photographing the work which called to me.  I don’t know the specifics of most of the art work I photographed but I have it divided into three categories: goddesses, the natural world, and human/animal hybrids.  Please excuse my lack of scholarship and just enjoy the images.  Feel free to comment on specifics if you know them.

Goddesses (often called female figurines by male archeologists)

ancient near east goddess sculptureguitar shape goddessgoddess holds the world

3 ancient near east goddessesmesopotanian cylinder seals

small iron goddessessyrian eye idols

cylinder seal lion goddess

The Natural World

floral fragmentancient jar w:animals

lotus color friez fragmentlotus relief

lotus rosette friezeanimal painted urn

sacred geometry lotus

Human/Animal Hybrids

statue human bull bull with arms breast

assyrian 2 bird men

winged orbassyrian bird man

assyrian bird man's wristI am really curious as to what the watch-like object on Birdman’s wrist is.

Here’s a link to 48  pages of works of art in the collection which are currently on view– cylinder seals, cuneiform tablets,  sculpture, wall reliefs,  jewelry and more Collection



3 responses to “Ancient Near Eastern Art at the Metropolitan Museum NYC

  1. Caroline Marjoniemi

    Just look at those wide hips of that hammer… and the eyes… and the symbol of the womb. ( lying 8 = eternity-symbol) .. and tell me that it is not a “female figurine” or a representation of Innanna…

    / C. Marjoniemi, Konstfack, Sweden.

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