This book examines the sculptures created during the Early Dynastic period (2900-2350 BC) of Sumer, a region corresponding to present-day southern Iraq. Featured almost exclusively in temple complexes, some 550 Early Dynastic stone statues of human figures carved in an abstract style have survived. Chronicling the intellectual history of ancient Near Eastern art history and archaeology at the intersection of sculpture and aesthetics, this book argues that the early modern reception of Sumer still influences ideas about these sculptures. Engaging also with the archaeology of the Early Dynastic temple, the book ultimately considers what a stone statue of a human figure has signified, both in modern times and in antiquity.
Jean M. Evans is a Research Associate at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago. She has been the recipient of fellowships from the J. Paul Getty Foundation, the American Academic Research Institute of Iraq and the Warburg Institute of the University of London. She was the co-organizer of the international exhibition Beyond Babylon: Art, Trade, and Diplomacy in the Second Millennium B.C. and co-editor of its corresponding publication.
1. Sumerian origins, 1850-1930: making the body visible; 2. Art history, ethnography, and beautiful sculpture; 3. Seeing the divine: sanctuary, sculpture, and display; 4. The Early Dynastic life of sculpture; 5. Becoming temple sculpture: the Asmar hoard; 6. Gender and identity in Early Dynastic temple statues; Conclusion: materiality, abstraction, and Early Dynastic sculpture.