Monday, 16 July 2012

Mesopotamia



The exhibition “The Wonders of Ancient Mesopotamia” at the Melbourne Museum follows on from the success of the Tutankhamen exhibition last year. This current exhibition was curated by the British Museum in London and was of the same standard as the aforementioned exhibition from Egypt last year.


Whilst it may not possess the glamour of treasures that the previous exhibition boasted, it was certainly rich with archaeological wealth and revealed much about the region that I was unaware of. Mesopotamia is the area that runs between two rivers (the Tigris and the Euphrates) which  is where it derives its name.  The area today is primarily Iraq.

Being situated in this fertile region gave birth to 3 major cultures which the term Mesopotamia encompasses: Assyria, Babylon, and Sumeria. These cultures existed simultaneously and overlapped one another in a span of 3000 years.

A major focus of the exhibit was on the cuneiform writing that these cultures developed, and date back to the earliest forms of writing discovered so far. Mesopotamia is credited with the first alphabet. (Wether the recent discoveries at Gobekli Tepi will challenge this is speculative right now).






Another main focus were the colossal rock carved reliefs which adorned walls. These were unique in their style and execution and flavour ones perception of Mesopotamia in the same way that we recognise Egyptian style and artwork today also.

A flower like emblem was used to denote divinity, which is not unlike the flower of life; entities wearing horns were also recognised as divinity and / or royalty, often the two being interchangeable. There are Kemetic parallels here.

The flower of divinity on a seal flanked by two scorpions


Egyptian artwork was more than paralleled in the culture, in some cases I was outright incorporated, like the Khepera and falcon /sphinx images featured on display.


A disturbing scene of a favourite royal pastime was that of hunting and murdering of lions. Artistically, this was captured with brilliance, but the concept was stomach turning and off putting. May Sekhmet and Nefertum look down upon this practice with fury!


Two gods leapt out at me in this exhibition: Pazazzu and an eagle headed deity called Nisroch. Like their Egyptian counterparts, the Mesopotamians loved depicting their gods as winged beings or in winged vehicles.


Pazuzu


Nisroch
The exhibition was great to visit, but was a little text heavy: much needed to be read with each item as you passed by. Many of the items were not as striking visually as comparable Egyptian objects, though craftsmanship was still very high.

On another note, I have been reading the Necronomicon, which is purported to be from Babylonian magickal texts, and finding it fascinating.

The "Mesopotamia Cafe" (which should have been called "Cuneiform Cafe"!!!) featured walls covered in the cuneiform script. I wonder if it actually reads something comprehensible, or if it is just decorative as most modern depictions of the Kemetic glyphs are today . . .




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