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Why Artifacts Matter

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Ursula Barth

on 1 December 2015

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Transcript of Why Artifacts Matter

Why Artifacts Matter; the Sumerian civilization of Mesopotamia (ca.2900–1900 BCE)
The Epic of Gilgamesh (ca. 2700-250 B.C.E)
Discovered in the mid 1800 by Hormuzd Rassam, The Epic of Gilgamesh has since become one of the most known pieces of writing from the First Civilization. The Epic follows Gilgamesh, the king of Uruk, an ancient Sumerian city in Mesopatomia (current day Iraq). Gilgamesh, half man, half god, gets into a fight with Enkidu, who is half man, half beast, sent from the gods to end Gilgamesh's peoples' suffering. After they fight, the two befriend one another and partake in great adventures. Angry, the gods kill Enkidu, leaving Gilgamesh distraught. However, Gilgamesh begins a new quest for immortality and in the end, fails.
The importance of this artifact is not only because it's one of man's oldest stories, but that it shows the advancement in Sumerian literature, which could be a development and interaction of culture. In addition, Gilgamesh changes throughout the story, representing a development and/or transformation of social structures.
The Standing Male Figure
Gold Eating Ware
The top image is of a golden eating bowel and the bottom image is a golden cup for drinking. Both items were found by British archaeologist, Leonard Woolley in Queen Pu-abi's tomb, who, during the First Dynasty of Ur (ca. 2600 BCE), was considered a "queen."
What we can learn from these artifacts and from Pu-abi's tomb is that there must have been an influence of cultural exchange from the Semitic on the Sumerians. This is largley due to the fact that Queen Pu-adi is a Semitic and the Sumerians still saw her as a significant person. This is a representitive of development and interaction of cultures because the Sumerians must of had respect for the Semitics if they valued Queen Pu-adi. In addition, looking at the golden food ware, it appears as though the society was well developed with the detail and finely defined edges of the cup and bowl.
By Ursula Barth
Sources Cited
Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 1 Oct. 2015. Web. 18 Nov. 2015. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puabi>.

"Cuneiform." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 29 Nov. 2015. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuneiform>.

Johnson, Ken. "Review: ‘From Ancient to Modern’ Ponders the Origins of Sumerian Artifacts." The New York Times. The New York Times, 12 Feb. 2015. Web. 29 Nov. 2015. <http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/13/arts/design/review-from-ancient-to-modern-ponders-the-origins-of-sumerian-artifacts.html?_r=0>.

"Standing Male Figure." Institute for the Study of the Ancient World. 12 Feb. 2015. Web. 30 Nov. 2015. <http://isaw.nyu.edu/exhibitions/aesthetics/highlights/standing-male-figure>.
Sumerian inscription c. 26th century B.C.E.
This tablet is written in cuneiform, which was created by the Sumerians. Cuneiform is also one of the first written languages. The earliest document of Cuneiform dates to c. 3100 B.C.E and was founded at Jemdet Nasr.
These orignal writtings were done on either clay or stone.
Having made a written language, the Sumerians exaplifie development and interation of cultures because having a written language shows an advancement in the development of the culture as well as interation of cultures due to the fact that Cuneiform is an adaptation of other forms of writting from surrounding areas.


The standing male figure is 29.5 cm high; 12.9 cm in width; 10 cm in diameter. It was made ca. 2900–2600 BCE and said to be founded by Fletcher Fund in 1940 in Eshnunna or what today would be considered Tell Asmar in Diyala Province, Iraq. Now in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, this piece of art represents various cultural characteristics of Sumerian Civilizations. One characteristic is the type of clothing the Sumerians might have worn or how they wore their hair. Another feature is the type of material the Sumerians might have used to construct the Standing Male Figure. Also, the male has particular facial features that could have been common in Sumerian culture. All together, the male figure acts as a development and interaction of cultures because if the Sumerians were able to make art, like the Male Figure, then that must be developed. In addition, Eshnunna, where this piece was found, was a city that partisapated in lots of trade, which could have influenced the figure of the man.
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