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architecture of the ancient Mesopotamian civilizations. The name Mesopotamia has been used with varying connotations by ancient writers.If, for convenience, it is to be considered synonymous with the modern state of Iraq, it can be seen in terms of two fairly well-defined provinces: a flat alluvial plain in the south and, in the north, the uplands through which the country’s twin rivers flow in their middle courses.The only other notable art form popular at this time is that of hominoid figurines of stone or clay, associated with primitive religious cults; however, their formal idiosyncrasies vary greatly from group to group, and the meaning of their symbolism is unknown.Nor can they—or the pottery designs—be considered as ancestral to Mesopotamian art of historical times, the antecedents of which must be sought in southern Iraq.All this confrontation and frustration is reflected in the melancholy undertones of their religious beliefs, particularly those of the Sumerians, for whom success and prosperity came to be identified with the principle of fertility and thus could only be attained by the appeasement of capricious deities.
Because interstate warfare or foreign conquests were primary preoccupations of Mesopotamian rulers, it is understandable that in most periods a certain class of artworks was dedicated simply to the glorification of their military prowess.
Accordingly, in the early days of Sumer and Babylonia, architectural attention was paid primarily to religious Assyrian period).
The third factor that contributed to the character of Mesopotamian art is the influence of the natural environment.
This geographic division of the area is reflected in the history of its cultural development from the earliest times.
The first traces of settled communities are found in the northern region and date from the mid-6th millennium pottery vessels, since the designs used for this purpose are the most reliable criteria by which ethnological groupings and migratory movements can be distinguished.
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The small panel, "Old Man with a Beard", dating from about 1630, was brought to art historians in Amsterdam by a private collector who believed it bore striking similarities to the Dutch master's work.