This week we surveyed a number of Mesopotamian civilizations, moving chronologically from the ancient Sumerians to the Persian Empire. The various cultures which sprang up from the Fertile Crescent are responsible for some of the most significant developments in human history, including the development of writing, as well as some breakthrough techniques in the visual arts. Some possible points of discussion for this week: Please share something you read in Herodotus’ account of Babylon that caught your attention and added additional insight to the basic information included in our video lecture. How did Herodotus’ account alter or deepen your understanding of the Babylonians? How does the Greek historian characterize the Babylonians and does is read like a fair assessment? To your eye, in what ways did portrayals of the human body change between the prehistoric period and the Sumerian era? What characteristics remained the same? In relation to the ‘Head of a Ruler,’ our lecture introduced the practice of iconoclasm. Have you encountered this concept before? Can you cite its occurrence elsewhere in history? Can you think of instances of iconoclasm that occur in our world today? The Tell Asmar Hoard are a group of votive figures which served as pious stand-ins for absentee worshippers. They were designed to be locked into constant eye-contact and supplication to an image of a local deity inside of a temple, acting as symbols for the loyalty and faith of their patrons. This practice imbues inanimate objects, both the votive figures and deity image, with significant spiritual power. It also gives the objects a certain autonomy; the votive figures are able to interact with another man made image, exchanging a metaphorical gaze which accomplishes a celestial purpose. While this concept may sound foreign at first, can you think of any other historical or current examples of man made objects imbued with similar spiritual or symbolic power? How is this object intentionally crafted to aid in its unique purpose? Please respond to TWO of the above prompts below. http://professordeannaheikkinen.weebly.com/uploads/1/6/8/5/16856420/herodotus_description_of_babylon.pdf
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