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Mesopotamia: Civilization Begins

Available April 2020

Edited by Ariane Thomas and Timothy Potts

Ancient Mesopotamia, a region that mainly corresponds to modern-day Iraq, has a record of human activity dating back nearly fifteen thousand years. Writing was invented in Mesopotamia at the end of the fourth millennium BCE, and urbanization reached new heights of social, economic, and architectural sophistication there. A cultural melting pot, Mesopotamia was the source of many myths, which in turn influenced Greco Roman, Judeo-Christian, Arabic, and Persian traditions. For these reasons and many others, it is still considered the “cradle of civilization.”

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 view in the Getty’s exhibition, 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 March 18 to July 27, 2020.

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.

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


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