Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2013

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Art & Art History

First Advisor

Elspeth Dusinberre

Abstract

The Royal Tombs of Ur from Early Dynastic Sumer provide insight into unique and interesting rituals, while also revealing to researchers the cultural and artistic preferences of that time. Often, these overarching themes are neglected in order to focus on the rich materials and exceptional artistic quality of individual objects. One overlooked anomaly is the large number of stag representations found in the burials at Ur. These animals seldom appear in Early Dynastic art, as they were not native to that area, so one must question what caused their sudden and short-lived appearance. I began my research by delving into the background of the tombs and finding all stag imagery located in them, as well as looking for stag imagery from Early Dynastic Mesopotamia as a whole. This led me to Anatolia, which was a major provider of material goods for southern Mesopotamia, since that area lacked most natural resources. While I discovered few stag images in Mesopotamia, Anatolia was full of them because the animals were indigenous there. I found many similarities, but also some differences, in uses, associations, and contexts relating to stags between the two cultures. From this, I concluded that not only material goods travelled the trade routes; thoughts, values, and cultural practices did too. Sumer adopted the original Anatolian images and their associations, and then adapted them to fit within their preexisting artistic styles and societal beliefs.

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