AP®︎/College Art History
- Key points for studying global prehistory
- Our earliest technology?
- Paleolithic art, an introduction
- Origins of rock art in Africa
- Apollo 11 Stones
- Camelid sacrum in the shape of a canine
- Rock art in North Africa
- Running horned woman, Tassili n’Ajjer
- The Neolithic Revolution
- Bushel with ibex motifs
- Anthropomorphic stele
- Jade Cong
- Working jade
- Stonehenge, Avebury and Associated Sites (UNESCO/NHK)
- Ambum Stone
- Tlatilco figurines
- Tlatilco Figurines
- Terracotta fragments, Lapita people
Ancient Susa, located in modern-day Iran, is home to beautiful clay vessels dating back 6,000 years. One such beaker features animal forms and geometric patterns, including a stylized mountain goat and other animals like greyhounds and wading birds. The vessel's design reflects its shape, and while its meaning remains unknown, it showcases the artistic skills of prehistoric Susa inhabitants. Bushel with ibex motifs, 4200--3500 B.C.E., Susa I period, necropolis, acropolis mound, Susa, Iran, painted terra-cotta, 28.90 x 16.40 cm, excavations led by Jacques de Morgan, 1906-08 (Musée du Louvre, Paris)
Speakers: Dr. Beth Harris and Dr. Steven Zucker. Created by Steven Zucker and Beth Harris.
Speakers: Dr. Beth Harris and Dr. Steven Zucker. Created by Steven Zucker and Beth Harris.
Want to join the conversation?
- These pots really remind me of later Greek Geometric Period pottery. Is there any way that pots of this style could have influenced later Greek pottery?(12 votes)
- This is a really good connection here, and it is likely that it could have occurred. c:
The era that these vessels were created (4200-3500 BCE, partially during the Bronze Age), was earlier than the Greek Geometric Period (GGP) by approximately 3,100 years. If these vessels influenced the Greeks in any way, it would have to be that these designs were still being used in Susa during the GGP, and that trade or immigration/emigration occurred between Susa and Greece (although this would have been difficult due to distance, and because Susa at this time was a part of the Neo-Assyrian Empire, which was strictly ruled). Another possibility is that Grecian scholars traveled to Susa and unearthed the pottery there, drawing inspiration from them and bringing the knowledge back home.
Otherwise, the GGP could have been influence by artwork from closer countries, or the pottery could have been a result of good ol' independent invention (like pyramids in Egypt and Aztec Mexico).
Hope this helps! ^^
- http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/grge/hd_grge.htm(8 votes)
- The incredible sophistication in this pot - the contrast and balance of geometric and naturalistic shapes - reminds you that people from thousands of years ago were as intelligent as we are today!
Archaeologists found this by accident because they were looking for a Biblical site. How many undiscovered sites do they suspect are still uncovered because we have nothing to motivate us to look in that area?(14 votes)
- At1:34it says that "some archaeologists have conjectured that this was made on a slow wheel." How would this wheel have mechanically operated?(4 votes)
- "The oldest forms of the potter's wheel (called tourneys or slow wheels) were probably developed as an extension to this procedure. Tournettes, in use around 4500 BC in the Near East, were turned slowly by hand or by foot while coiling a pot. Only a small range of vessels were fashioned on the tournette, suggesting that it was used by a limited number of potters. The introduction of the slow wheel increased the efficiency of hand-powered pottery production."
(quote from David Alexander's answer)(2 votes)
- This pot is thrilling to look at. I love the birds around the top and the dogs. I never would have noticed them if they hadn't been pointed out. It seems so modern and witty. Are any modern artists influenced by this work?(2 votes)
- Definitely! Earlier this year I was at Pompidou Centre viewing arts by Jeff Koons and Marcel Duchamp. Jeff Koons was influenced by Venus of Willendorf and arts of antiquity. And his works are kitch and similar to Andy Warhol in identifying what is the meaning of arts in a media saturated society. Marcel Duchamp in the same timeline as Pablo Picasso exploring cubism and futurism and influenced by previous movements of impressionists. Nude Descending the Staircase, in my opinion shares the similar experience of how to feel and embrace of the human form and storytelling. And if you look at the Greek vase painting, the human forms are stylised and forms stories. Marcel Duchamp influenced many post Modern artists, Jeff Koons is one of them.(4 votes)
- Why is it significant that the tails' of the dogs spin in the opposite direction of the goat's horns? Would it have been less significant if they were in the same direction?(2 votes)
- I think it's a matter of balance. Having the horns of the ibex spin one way and the tails of the dogs in another creates a sence of balanced movement. This being said, if they had been in the same direction the pot would have looked just as beautiful to me!(3 votes)
- Was it a religious thing, when they buried the pots with the bodies?(1 vote)
- Burying anything with the dead, ESPECIALLY things that could be used (like pots) in a possible afterlife, is evidence of some sort of religious belief.(4 votes)
- Could the rectangular shapes boxing the mountain goat symbolize some form of protection? The dogs running around chasing the goats? The cranes just standing tall gazing over the land?(2 votes)
- We don't really know. As there was no writing at this time, we have no other sources to look at to see what they could have symbolized. So we can only guess.(1 vote)
- what we know about the people who built Stonehenge?(2 votes)
- I saw This from my Home Skillet across The Pond ( "" Things that make you go Hmmm"" )(1 vote)
(piano music) Voiceover: We're in the Louvre in Paris that holds one of the most important collections of clay vessels from Ancient Susa. Voiceover: Ancient Susa is in modern day Iran, going back about 6,000 years to 4,000 B.C.E., and we're looking at a beautiful beaker decorated with animal forms and geometric patterns. Voiceover: So, 6,000 years ago, this is right at the cusp of the Neolithic and the Historical Era, just before the great cities of Mesopotamia rise. Voiceover: In fact, this area at certain moments in history becomes politically part of southern Mesopotamia, the cities of Uruk and Ur, but at this point, 4,000 B.C.E, this is still prehistoric. We are looking at people who lived in a very fertile river valley who painted beautiful vessels and buried them in their cemetaries. Voiceover: At about 4,000 B.C., we believe that they built a raised mound and had a temple on top, and the whole area was continuously occupied for about 5,000 years, so we have this extraordinary accumulation, but when we dig all the way down, we get to this pot and pots like it. Voiceover: And because this is prehistoric, this is before writing and we have no records of why they bury their dead with the pots, what they believe, what their religion was, the gods or goddesses they were worshiping on that temple mount, but we do have extraordinarily beautiful pots. Voiceover: It's handmade, it's clay, and it's painted. It's quite thin and it doesn't have the perfection you get from something that's made on a wheel, though some archaeologists have conjectured it was perhaps made on a slow wheel, although others think it was completely handmade. In any case, it was clearly hand-painted. Voiceover: The circular forms balanced by forms that are linear, balanced by geometric, hard-edged forms, like rectangles. Voiceover: They mentioned animals but the most obvious is the mountain goat. The mountain goat occupies the large rectangle, and the body is actually made out of two arcs to create this very geometric form. Voiceover: But it's mostly his horns that take up the... (laughs) Voiceover: (laughs) Yeah. Voiceover: So, this is not a naturalistic image of a mountain goat. His body is reduced to triangles. So, very stylized images of these natural forms. Voiceover: Nevertheless, there is real detail here. We can make out the goat's beard, his ears. We can make out his nose, where his eyes would be. We can see the bush of his tail, and we see that kind of detail in the other animals that are represented here. Just above the rectangle that holds the goat, we see a band that wraps around the vessel, that has a kind of dog that's rather like a greyhound. Voiceover: Very thin and elongated, perhaps it's reclining, perhaps it's running, and then above that we see wading birds with elongated necks. Voiceover: The necks speak to the verticality of the vessel, and the roundness of the horns speak to the cylindrical shape of the vessel. It's wonderful the way these geometric elements reflect the shape of the object itself. There's this beautiful integration between the pictorial and the actual body of the pot. Voiceover: Look at how the tails of the dogs spin back in the opposite direction of the horns of the mountain goat, of the ibex. But then we have these things we can't identify, this criss-cross pattern with these angular forms in the center almost looks like stitching on a baseball. We see that shape repeated on other vessels, so perhaps it has meaning...in fact, perhaps the animals themselves had meaning, and were associated with different ideas, perhaps fertility, or water, because we know that those associations were made later on in Ancient Mesopotamia. Voiceover: Right, but we don't know if those meanings are in play here in Susa. Voiceover: The name "Susa" may be familiar, because later on it figures in the Prophecy of Daniel, and it also figures in the Book of Esther, variously [Esusa], or sometimes Shushan. Voiceover: And in fact, the reason that these pots were found is because an archaeologist was looking for the tomb of Daniel and came upon this extraordinary cemetary. (piano music)