We use cookies to enhance your experience on our website. By continuing to use our website, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Find out more

Timelines of World Art: Middle East

c. 8000 BC

Jerico, built on an oasis on the bank of the River Jordan, is the world's oldest city, with a circular tower and encircling wall built of massive stones. Read more...

c. 7000BC–c. 6000 BC

Sculptures made of lime plaster from Ain Ghazal in Jordan are among the earliest surviving large-scale statues of the human figure. Read more...

7000 BC–5000BC

Çatal Hüyük in central Turkey is the largest Neolithic settlement known in the Near East. The wall paintings, figurines and artefacts found there reveal a rich religious and cultural tradition, and some of the oldest textile fragments in the world have been found there. Read more...

4000 BC–3000 BC

A stately procession is carved in low relief on the famous stone Warka Vase of Uruk. Rows of sheep, priests and, at the top, the king present offerings to the Mesopotamian goddess of love and war, Inanna. This method of depicting important politico-religious events in horizontal registers continues to be used for the next two millennia. Read more...

4000 BC–3000 BC

The large number of copper alloy maceheads, sceptres, crowns and other presitigious items found at Nahal Mishmar in Israel are among the earliest and most skilfully crafted examples of the lost-wax casting method. Read more...

c. 3300 BC

Animal-shaped seals from Tell Brak, Syria act as good-luck charms and votive offerings, as well as providing a recognizable image that can be stamped into soft clay to proclaim ownership of an item. Read more...

c. 2900 BC–c. 2334 BC

Cylinder seals are used in Mesopotamia, Iran, and Syria during the 3rd millennium BC. The seal is impressed on a ball of clay that is then used to close documents, stacks of goods or doors. These figural and textual images form a rich and long-lasting source of information about this civilization.. Read more...

c. 2700 BC

A group of Sumerian statues from Tell Asmar are distinctive for their columnar forms and large, round, staring eyes. Found in the Square Temple, the statues' folded hands and attentive attitude may indicate their role as supplicants. Read more...

c. 2600 BC–2400 BC

Several impressive wood lyres or harps, capped with bull's heads made of gold and lapis lazuli, are placed in tombs in the Royal Cemetery at Ur and may have been used as part of Sumerian funerary rituals. Read more...

c. 2250 BC

The two-metre tall Stele of Naram-Sin celebrates the military success of the Akkadian king by employing the innovative composition technique of showing the ruler conquering his foes in a single dramatic scene, rather than by means of the older method of a narrative composed of a series of horizontal registers. Read more...

c. 2112 BC–2095 BC

The Ziggurat at Ur, in modern Iraq is built of painted mud-brick to honour the moon god Nammu. This massive structure consists of a temple set atop a stepped pyramid and serves as a meeting place for the gods and man. Read more...

c. 1700s BC

When he unifies Mesopotamia, King Hammurabi establishes a legal code to ensure justice. His decrees are inscribed in cuneiform on a tall stone stele capped by a carving showing Hammurabi appearing before the sun god Shamash. Read more...

1300 BC–1200 BC

Among the earliest and finest glass made in ancient Iran are fragments of mosaic-glass beakers in blue, turquoise and white found in the remains of a palace near Hasanlu. Read more...

c. 950 BC

Solomon's Temple is built in Jerusalem. This magnificently decorated structure with abundant carvings and gold-plating houses the sacred Ark of the Covenant, which contains the tablets on which the Ten Commandments are inscribed. The temple structure is among the earliest in Jewish architecture. Read more...

900 BC–700 BC

Ancient Phoenician craftsmen make small plaques and toiletry articles of ivory, many of which are traded abroad over their numerous and extensive trade routes. Read more...

c. 721 BC–c. 705 BC

Inscribed with the dedication 'Palace of Sargon, King of Assyria', the translucent, light green Sargon Vase is a unique example of early Middle Eastern glass made by casting. Read more...

c. 645 BC

One of the most sympathetic images from the ancient world is the depiction of dying lions, lying in agonized postures after being shot with arrows and speared. The animals are part of a representation of an Assyrian royal hunt that covered the north wall of Assurbanipal's palace. Read more...

c. 575 BC

Tiles glazed in brilliant gold and royal blue decorate the Ishtar Gate at Babylon. Striding beasts and dragons rendered in low relief create an imposing quality typical of Mesopotamian royal architecture. Read more...

c. 515 BC

Darius the Great constructs the magnificent city of Persepolis. The palace is decorated with scenes in relief of royal processions and hunts that convey the king's power. Read more...


Copyright © Oxford University Press 2007 — 2014.