The corpus of Early Dynastic figurative monuments from ancient Mesopotamia is substantial. For many years, establishing the chronological sequence and development of these artifacts has been a complicated and problematic task. In this volume—first published in Italian in 2006 and here translated, revised, and updated—Gianni Marchesi and Nicolò Marchetti provide a complete relative chronology for these remarkable objects. Having established the chronological sequence through an examination of the archaeological contexts of the excavated pieces and the analysis of their inscriptions, the authors then consider the significance of the changes, over time, in the subject matter of figurative arts, noting a gradual shift from a stage in which the entire officialdom of early polities was celebrated to a stage in which the figure of the king alone becomes the main and then almost the only object of celebration. Near the end of the Early Dynastic period, which was a time of continual political upheaval, new iconographic details were introduced in order to characterize the royal figure, and a distinctive royal iconography began to be developed.
Starting from these observations, the authors proceed to investigate the ideology of early polities in Mesopotamia and the role and functions of the king. Along with a new chronology of Early Dynastic rulers and an outline of Early Dynastic history, discussions of significant monuments and inscriptions are offered. In addition, all known inscriptions on royal statues are edited and provided with detailed commentaries.
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