Originative Akkadian Landscapes

I just watched The Adjustment Bureau with my family and it occurs to me that we unknowingly allow ourselves to remain embedded in a paradigm, the framework of which develops its inclinations in years of tradition, and these inclinations are less absolute necessities than they are well-developed best systems of thought. 

Helene J. Kantor addresses how art traditions can get stuck in long-lived paradigms in which the only change we see consists of variations on a theme. "In the long tradition of Mesopotamian art", says Kantor, "some periods, Old Babylonian for example, seem predominantly phases for the classic consolidation and elaboration of the inheritance from earlier times" (145, see source below). 

However, there is always that courageous jump into uncharted artistic territory. As Kantor puts it, "in contrast, other phases stand out as extraordinarily originative…. they are new beginnings, transformative outbursts of creativity" (145). 

Akkadian landscapes are Kantor's focus for her essay in discussing the originative creativity that she mentions. She discusses, "On the highest level is the supreme achievement of Akkadian artists in respect of landscape, one in which they seem to be without precursors. The tyranny of horizontal registers in which no element could be taller than the principal figures of the composition was shattered by the increased size and importance of the landscape element." (152)

Then she explains, "There is every indication that it was the Akkadians who depicted such landscapes for the first time in Mesopotamia, developing them to a degree greater than was ever attained in Egypt, and not surpassed in Asia until Late Assyrian artists, particularly those of Sennacherib, intensively explored the possibilities of landscape renderings." (152)

The Akkadians were able to break from the long-standing artistic tradition in the rendering of landscapes. This new way of thinking really does manifest creativity to a great enough degree to actually break 'rules' of visual representation and create new methods of depiction. 


Kantor, Helene J. "Landscape in Akkadian Art", Journal of Near Eastern Studies (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1966), pp 145-152. 


  1. Hopefully each idea improves or beautifies another.


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