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Ancient Mesopotamia
Artisans and Craftsmen
Artisans played an important role in the culture of the Mesopotamian people. They
made everyday useful items like dishes, pots, clothing, baskets, boats, and
weapons. They also created works of art meant to glorify the gods and the king.
Potters
The most common material for Mesopotamian artists was clay. Clay was used for
pottery, monumental buildings, and tablets used to record history and legends.
The Mesopotamians developed their skills in pottery over thousands of years. At first
they used their hands to make simple pots. Later they learned how to use a potter's
wheel. They also used high temperature ovens to harden the clay. They learned
how to make different shapes, glazes, and patterns. Soon their pottery turned into
works of art.
Jewelers
Fine jewelry was a status symbol in Ancient Mesopotamia. Both men and women
wore jewelry. Jewelers used fine gemstones, silver, and gold to make intricate
designs. They made all sorts of jewelry including necklaces, earrings, and
bracelets.
Metalsmiths
Around 3000 BC the metal workers of Mesopotamia learned how to make bronze by
mixing tin and copper. They would melt the metal at very high temperatures and
then poor it into moulds to make all sorts of items including tools, weapons, and
sculptures.
Carpenters
Carpenters were important craftsmen in Ancient Mesopotamia. The most important
items were made with imported wood such as cedar wood from Lebanon. They built
palaces for the kings using cedar. They also constructed chariots for war and ships
to travel on the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers.
Many fine pieces of wooden craftsmanship were decorated with inlays. They would
take small pieces of glass, gems, shells, and metal to make beautiful and shiny
decorations on items like furniture, religious pieces, and musical instruments.
Stone Masons
Some of the best surviving work
of Mesopotamian art and
craftsmanship was carved by
stonemasons. They carved
everything from large sculptures
to small detailed reliefs. Most of
the sculptures had religious or
historical significance. They
were usually of the gods or the
king.
They also carved small detailed
cylinder stones that were used
as seals. These seals were
quite small because they were
used as signatures. They were
also quite detailed so they
couldn't be easily copied.
A cylinder seal
Interesting Facts about Mesopotamian Artisans and Art
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Sumerian sculptures of men usually had long beards and wide open eyes.
The Ancient Greeks were influenced by Assyrian art. One example is the
Assyrian winged genie which took the form of winged beasts such as the
Griffin and the Chimera in Greek art.
In the wealthier cities, even the gates to the city became works of art. One
example of this is the Ishtar Gate of Babylon built by King Nebuchadnezzar II.
It is covered with colorful glazed bricks showing designs and pictures of
animals.
Pottery and sculptures were often painted.
A lot of Sumerian jewelry was recovered from the Royal Tombs of Ur.
Sumerian artisans also learned how to make glass about 3500 BC.
Source:
“Ancient Mesopotamia for Kids: Artisans, Art, and Craftsmen." Ducksters. Technological Solutions, Inc. (TSI), Oct. 2014.
Web. 20 Oct. 2014. <http://www.ducksters.com/history/mesopotamia/artisans_art_craftsmen.php>.