Akkadian Art - Bronze Age Mesopotamia
Welcome to Quatr.us Study Guides!

Akkadian Art

Sargon head
Head of Akkadian king (maybe Sargon)

When the Akkadians, from northern Iraq, conquered southern Iraq about 2400 BC, they unified all of Iraq - Mesopotamia, the land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers - into one empire for the first time. In some ways, Akkadian art was the same as the Sumerian art that went before it. Carvings still usually had rounded shapes, recalling early clay sculptures.

But in other ways Akkadian art was very different from Sumerian art. Akkadian rulers used artists to help them stay in power. The artists carved images of the Akkadian kings. Sometimes they showed the kings on their own, just to remind people who was in charge. Sometimes they showed the kings conquering their enemies, or they showed how much the gods loved the king. The Akkadian kings wanted art to remind the conquered people how impressive and important the kings were, so they wouldn't try to revolt.

Stele of Naram-Sin
Stele of Naram-Sin (Louvre, Paris)
Naram-Sin is walking up the
mountain, trampling his enemies.

Because Akkadian art was all about showing how impressive the rulers were, their enemies destroyed or carried away a lot of Akkadian art after the rulers lost battles. The head of Sargon shown here had its eyes gouged out and its ears cut off. The people of Iran carried away the stele of Naram-Sin to their city at Susa, to show how they had conquered the Iraqi (Mesopotamian) people in battle.

Learn by doing: try to sculpt a portrait head of someone you know. Pro tip: don't make it solid. Use a balloon and coat that with clay.
More about Phoenician Art

Bibliography and further reading about Akkadian art:

Hands-On Ancient People, Volume 1: Art Activities about Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Islam, by Yvonne Merrill and Mary Simpson. Art projects for kids, though the directions are really aimed at teachers or parents.

Mesopotamia, by Julian Reade (1991). Good pictures of objects in the British Museum.

The Art and Architecture of the Ancient Orient, by Henri Frankfort (5th edition 1997). The standard for college art history classes.

Akkadian architecture
Akkadians
More West Asian Art
Quatr.us home


Please help other teachers and students find us: link to this page from your class page.
Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
Sign up for more free articles and special offers in Quatr.us' weekly newsletter:
We will never share your e-mail address unless you allow us to do so. View our privacy policy. Easy unsubscribe links are provided in every email.
Check out our new ebook: Short and Simple: Ancient Greek Myths! - just out! Twenty-five easy to read, illustrated stories, from Pandora to Medea, Icarus, and the Trojan Horse (you can read these online as samples). Get it this week for just $14.99, five dollars off the regular price of $19.99.
Cite this page
  • Author: K.E. Carr
  • Title:
  • Site Name: Quatr.us Study Guides
  • Publisher: Quatr.us
  • Date Published:
Did you find what you needed? Ask your teacher to link to this page so other people can use it too! Send it in and win a Quatr.us "Great Page!" award!
Sign up for more free articles and special offers in Quatr.us' weekly newsletter:
We will never share your e-mail address unless you allow us to do so. View our privacy policy. Easy unsubscribe links are provided in every email.
Comment on This Article
Quatr.us is loading comments...
(Comments will appear after moderation, if they are kind and helpful. Feel free to ask questions, and we'll try to answer them.)
Cite this page
  • Carr, K.E. . Quatr.us Study Guides, . Web. 21 July, 2017
ADVERTISEMENT