Neo-Sumerian & Egyptian

Ithaca College’s Plaster Cast Collection features 1 example of Neo-Sumerian art and 1 example of Egyptian art.

Neo-Sumerian art

Neo-Sumerian art (2150-1600 BCE) developed in the Ancient Near East as Sumerian culture rose to power during the Third Dynasty of Ur following the defeat of the Akkadian Empire. This period saw the creation of monumental religious architecture, such as the Ziggurat at Ur, and the revival of the Sumerian language and cuneiform, the first invented writing system. Works of this era often display Akkadian stylistic influences, but largely represent a return to Sumerian aesthetic values.


Title: Gudea
Medium: Plaster cast (original in diorite)
Origin: Telloh, Iraq
Date: 2144-2124 BC
Dimensions: 52” x 22” x 14”
Location: Visual Resource Center, Gannett Center

Gudea ruled the Neo-Sumerian city of Lagash in Southern Mesopotamia ca. 2144 – 2124 BC. His reign was marked by peace and prosperity, and he is credited with supporting numerous building programs, as indicated in the cuneiform inscription on his tunic.

Egyptian art

Ancient Egyptian art (3500-333 BCE) can be broken down into four distinct eras, the Pre-Dynastic and Early Dynastic Periods (3500-2575 BCE), the Old Kingdom (2575-2134 BCE), the Middle Kingdom (2040-1640 BCE), and the New Kingdom (1550-1070 BCE). While each of these periods featured slightly different artistic values, Egyptian Art as a whole can be understood to represent the devotion of the Egyptian people to their gods and pharaohs, emphasizing idealized depictions of rulers and divine beings as well as the construction of monumental funerary architecture, both of which was used to honor royalty and for ritual worship. Stylistically, Egyptian art combined a focus on rigid, frontal, and geometric forms, pictorial clarity, hierarchy of scale, and idealization of the human form to convey the supremacy and eternal nature of pharaonic sovereignty, even after death.


Title: Head of Amenemhat III
Medium: Plaster cast (original in granite)
Origin: Bubastis, Egypt
Date: 1854-1808 BC
Dimensions: 36” x 36” x 30”
Location: 4th Floor of Ithaca College Library

This cast portrays Amenemhat III, the sixth pharaoh of the 12th Dynasty of the Middle Kingdom in Egypt. Amenemhat III is depicted wearing a cloth headdress, or nemes, which would have originally been adorned with a uraeus, or a representation of a striking cobra, symbolizing royalty.



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