Art of Ancient Asia

This room is dedicated to the art of Western Aisa and features the casts of key artistic monuments of the Ancient Mesopotamia, Babylonia, Assyria, and Persia, as well as several works from Urartu and Saanian Iran. The casts featured in this room illustrate the art of the people that has been living in Western Asia for almost three thousand years, from the middle of the 3rd to the middle of the 1st millennium BC to the middle of the 1st millennium AD. The majority of the casts were ordered by professor I.V. Tsvetayev in the beginning of the 20th century for the Museum of Fine Arts from the workshops of major European museums: the Louvre in Paris, the British Museum in London, and the Pergamon in Berlin. Several casts were received by I.V. Tsvetaeyev from the Rumyantsev Museum.

The earliest exhibits originate from Southern Mesopotamia and are dated back to the Akkadian times (24th – 23rd centuries BC), namely to the period of the first unification of Mesopotamia under the rule of Akkadian kings. A beautiful cylindrical seal made at that time is distinguished by the dynamics of its composition, perfect modeling, and exact human body proportions.

Sumerian art of the 22nd century BC is represented by dioritic statues of Gudea, the king of Lagash. Assyria, located in the northern part of Mesopotamia, was the most powerful military state in Western Asia in the 9th – 7th centuries BC. The main motif of Assyrian art was the glorification of ultimate and God-like might of the Assyrian kings. The rulers were called "great kings, mighty kings, the kings of the four parts of the world and Assyria". This tendency was clearly expressed in the highest and most unique achievement of the Assyrian art – monumental stone reliefs that once decorate royal palaces. The art of Urartu – a state that was formed in the 9th – 6th centuries BC at the Armenian Highlands and in Transcaucasia – was closely connected to that of Assyria. The masters of Urartu attained perfection in metal work.

The art of Iran during the reign of the Achaemenid dynasty (6th – 4th centuries BC) is represented by a fragment of a relief depicting a head of an archer. The fragment originates from the palace of king Xerxes in Persepolis. The art of Cyprus in the first half of the 1st millennium BC clearly shows cultural influences of Western Asian peoples, in particular Assyria, but the strengthening of Greek cultural traditions is also evident. The most interesting examples of Parthian sculpture come from Hatra in Parthian Mesopotamia. The statues of Hatra were of religious nature and were kept in temples. The images of the rulers were placed there as well in order to propitiate the gods with constant prayers. This type of sculpture is represented by the fragment of the statue depicting king Sanatruk. The peoples of Western Asia had a huge impact on the development of the world culture.