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Mesopotamia: Civilization Begins

Edited by Ariane Thomas and Timothy Potts

Mesopotamia, in modern-day Iraq, was home to the remarkable ancient civilizations of Sumer, Akkad, Babylonia, and Assyria. From the rise of the first cities around 3500 BCE, through the mighty empires of Nineveh and Babylon, to the demise of its native culture around 100 CE, Mesopotamia produced some of the most powerful and captivating art of antiquity and led the world in astronomy, mathematics, and other sciences—a legacy that lives on today.

Mesopotamia: Civilization Begins presents a rich panorama of ancient Mesopotamia’s history, from its earliest prehistoric cultures to its conquest by Alexander the Great in 331 BCE. This catalogue records the beauty and variety of the objects on display, on loan from the Louvre’s unparalleled collection of ancient Near Eastern antiquities: cylinder seals, monumental sculptures, cuneiform tablets, jewelry, glazed bricks, paintings, figurines, and more. Essays by international experts explore a range of topics, from the earliest French excavations to Mesopotamia’s economy, religion, cities, cuneiform writing, rulers, and history—as well as its enduring presence in the contemporary imagination.

This volume is published to accompany an exhibition on view at the J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Villa April 12 to August 16, 2021.

Ariane Thomas is curator of the Mesopotamian Collections, Department of Near Eastern Antiquities, Musée du Louvre, Paris. Timothy Potts is director of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles.

Winner of 2021 PROSE Award, Art Exhibitions

“[A] very readable catalog.”
—Christopher Knight, Los Angeles Times

—Edward Rothstein, The Wall Street Journal

“Valuable. . . . Recommended.”
—F. Van Keuren, Choice

“An extraordinary coffee-table style (9 x 0.9 x 11.5 inches) volume that is as comprehensively informative and expertly organized as it is beautifully illustrated and presented throughout, making it an ideal and unreservedly recommended addition to personal, professional, community, college, and university library Iraq Assyria, Babylonia & Sumer History collections in general, and Ancient Mesopotamia History supplemental curriculum studies lists in particular.”
Midwest Book Review

—John Sandoe Books

236 pages
9 x 11 1/2 inches
262 color and 33 b/w illustrations
ISBN 978-1-60606-649-2

Getty Publications
Imprint: J. Paul Getty Museum