Sumerians were wonderful craftsmen. They made jewelry of precious
gold and lapis, fancy chairs, and unglazed vases that kept water cool.
They were not very good at huge stone sculptures because their artists
did not have stone with which to work. But they made beautiful things
with the materials on hand.
One of the things they did very well was to create
colorful mosaics in intricate and beautiful patterns using little pieces
of painted clay. Archaeologists have found remains of their mosaics,
helmets, harps, jewelry, pottery, and decorated tablets.
They made such beautiful pottery from wet
soil that their pottery became a form of wealth. Pottery was traded for
food, clothing, and jewelry.
They had many musical instruments,
including the harp, reed pipes, drums, and the lyre.
Babylonians came next. They built their civilization on the legacy
(and remains) of ancient Sumer. The Babylonians continued the
craftsmanship of the ancient Sumerians and added some of their own. The
Babylonians added huge gates and massive sculptures built to honor the
special events that surrounded their gloomy gods, especially the god Marduk.
Assyrians, in the north, were different. They were not that
interested in art for the sake of beauty. They were interested in using
art to display huge scenes of their military achievements and the daily
life of the military when they were not at war. There are also murals of
the royals and their activities. We know a great deal about the
Assyrians because of the pictures of daily life they carved and painted.