Summerian Art and Architecture

Art and Architecture

More than 4,000 years ago the valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers began to teem with life–first the Sumerian, then the Babylonian, Assyrian, Chaldean, and Persian empires. Here too excavations have unearthed evidence of great skill and artistry.

From Sumeria have come examples of fine works in marble, diorite, hammered gold, and lapis lazuli. Of the many portraits produced in this area, some of the best are those of Gudea, ruler of Lagash.

Some of the portraits are in marble, others, such as the one in the Louvre in Paris, are cut in gray-black diorite.

Dating from about 2400 BC, they have the smooth perfection and idealized features of the classical period in Sumerian art.

Sumerian art and architecture was ornate and complex. Clay was the Sumerians’ most abundant material. Stone, wood, and metal had to be imported.

Art was primarily used for religious purposes. Painting and sculpture was the main median used.

Marble Statues

The famous votive stone/ marble sculptures from Tell Asmar represent tall, bearded figures with huge, staring eyes and long, pleated skirts.

Enlarged eyes were found on many statues

The tallest figure is about 30 inches in height. He represents the god of vegetation. The next tallest represents a mother goddess-mother goddesses were common in many ancient cultures. They were worshipped in the hope that they would bring fertility to women and to crops. (Another connection to African culture.)

The next largest figures are priests. The smallest figures are worshippers – a definite hierarchy of size. This is an example of artistic iconography. We learn to read picture symbols—bodies are cylindrical and scarcely differentiated by gender, with their uplifted heads and hands clasped. This is a pose of supplication-wanting or waiting for something.

Ur yielded much outstanding Sumerian work, e.g., a wooden harp with the head of a bull on top, showing mythological scenes in gold and mosaic inlay on the sound box (c.2650 B.C., Univ. of Penn., Philadelphia).

Sumerian techniques and motifs were widely available because of the invention of cuneiform writing before 3000 B.C.

This system of writing developed before the last centuries of the 4th millennium B.C. in the lower Tigris and Euphrates valley, most likely by the Sumerians. The characters consist of arrangements of wedge-like strokes, generally on clay tablets. The history of the script is strikingly like that of the Egyptian hieroglyphic.

Among other Sumerian arts forms were the clay cylinder seals used to mark documents or property. They were highly sophisticated.

The Code of Hammurabi 18th Century BCE

Of the several law codes surviving from the ancient Middle East, the most famous after the Hebrew Torah is the Code of Hammurabi, sixth king of the Amorite Dynasty of Old Babylon. It is best known from a beautifully engraved diorite stela now in the Louvre Museum which also depicts the king receiving the law from Shamash, the god of justice. This copy was made long after Hammurabi’s time, and it is clear that his was a long-lasting contribution to Mesopotamian civil ization. It encodes many laws which had probably evolved over a long period of time, but is interesting to the general reader because of what it tells us about the attitudes and daily lives of the ancient Babylonians. In the following selection, most of the long prologue praising Hammurabi’s power and wisdom is omitted.

What do these laws tell us about attitudes toward slavery? What indication is there that some Babylonian women engaged in business? Clearly men had more rights than women in this society; but what laws can you identify that seem aimed at protecting certain rights of women? Which laws deviate from the egalitarian standard of “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth?” What qualities does this text say a ruler should have to enable him to write new laws?

. . . Anu and Bel called by name me, Hammurabi, the exalted prince, who feared God, to bring about the rule of righteousness in the land, to destroy the wicked and the evil-doers; so that the strong should not harm the weak; so that I should rule over the black-headed people like Shamash, and enlighten the land, to further the well-being of mankind. . . .

15: If any one take a male or female slave of the court, or a male or female slave of a freed man, outside the city gates [to escape], he shall be put to death.

16: If any one receive into his house a runaway male or female slave of the court, or of a freedman, and does not bring it out at the public proclamation of the [police], the master of the house shall be put to death.

53: If any one be too lazy to keep his dam in proper condition, and does not so keep it; if then the dam break and all the fields be flooded, then shall he in whose dam the break occurred be sold for money, and the money shall replace the [grain] which he has caused to be ruined.

54: If he be not able to replace the [grain], then he and his possessions shall be divided among the farmers whose corn he has flooded.

108: If a [woman wine-seller] does not accept [grain] according to gross weight in payment of drink, but takes money, and the price of the drink is less than that of the corn, she shall be convicted and thrown into the water. (1)

109: If conspirators meet in the house of a [woman wine-seller], and these conspirators are not captured and delivered to the court, the [wine-seller] shall be put to death.

110: If a “sister of a god”[nun] open a tavern, or enter a tavern to drink, then shall this woman be burned to death.

129: If a man’s wife be surprised [having intercourse] with another man, both shall be tied and thrown into the water, but the husband may pardon his wife and the king his slaves.

130: If a man violate the wife (betrothed or child-wife) of another man, who has never known a man, and still lives in her father’s house, and sleep with her and be surprised [caught], this man shall be put to death, but the wife is blameless.

131: If a man bring a charge against [his] wife, but she is not surprised with another man, she must take an oath and then may return to her house.

132: If the “finger is pointed” at a man’s wife about another man, but she is not caught sleeping with the other man, she shall jump into the river for [the sake of her] husband. (2)

138: If a man wishes to separate from his wife who has borne him no children, he shall give her the amount of her purchase money and the dowry which she brought from her father’s house, and let her go.

141: If a man’s wife, who lives in his house, wishes to leave it, plunges into debt [to go into business], tries to ruin her house, neglects her husband, and is judicially convicted: if her husband offer her release, she may go on her way, and he gives her nothing as a gift of release. If her husband does not wish to release her, and if he take another wife, she shall remain as servant in her husband’s house.

142: If a woman quarrel with her husband, and say: “You are not congenial to me,” the reasons for her prejudice must be presented. If she is guiltless, and there is no fault on her part, but he leaves and neglects her, then no guilt attaches to this woman, she shall take her dowry and go back to her father’s house. (3)

143: If she is not innocent, but leaves her husband, and ruins her house, neglecting her husband, this woman shall be cast into the water.

195: If a son strike his father, his hands shall be [cut] off. (4)

196: If a [noble-]man put out the eye of another [noble-]man, his eye shall be put out. (5)

197: If he break another [noble-]man’s bone, his bone shall be broken.

198: If he put out the eye of a [commoner], or break the bone of a [commoner], he shall pay one [silver] mina.

199: If he put out the eye of a man’s slave, or break the bone of a man’s slave, he shall pay one-half of its value.

200: If a man knock out the teeth of his equal, his teeth shall be knocked out.

201: If he knock out the teeth of a [commoner], he shall pay one-third of a [silver] mina.

In future time, through all coming generations, let the king, who may be in the land, observe the words of righteousness which I have written on my monument; let him not alter the law of the land which I have given, the edicts which I have enacted; my monument let him not mar. If such a ruler have wisdom, and be able to keep his land in order, he shall observe the words which I have written in this inscription; the rule, statute, and law of the land which I have given; the decisions which I have made will this inscription show him; let him rule his subjects accordingly, speak justice to them, give right decisions, root out the miscreants and criminals from this land, and grant prosperity to his subjects.

Hammurabi, the king of righteousness, on whom Shamash has conferred right (or law) am I. My words are well considered; my deeds are not equaled; to bring low those that were high; to humble the proud, to expel insolence.

Translated by L. W. King (1915), edited by Paul Brians.


Egyptian pyramids, after nearly 4,500 years, are still standing as
testaments to the faith, dedication and technology of ancient
Egyptians. A trip to Egypt would not be complete without a visit to the
Pyramids. Other pyramids exist, but their purpose, for the most part,
was different than those of ancient Egypt. The pyramids most famous
outside of Egypt are those located in Mexico and to the south of
Mexico, these appear to have been built more as temples. The Egyptian
pyramids were built as tombs, sometimes to hold the physical body of a
pharaoh and other individuals, or to hold the soul of the deceased, as
the small cult pyramids built next to the larger ones were. The shape
of the pyramid was choosen,to mimic the Benben, a pyramid shaped stone
found in the earliest of temples. The great size of many of the
Egyptian pyramids is believed to be about the Pharaohs' own power and
perhaps, the glory and strength of their country. 
In the desert west
of Cairo, on the site of the ancient Egyptian capital of Memphis, the
Egypt pyramids still stand on the Giza plateau as perhaps the most
elaborate tombs ever built. Probably the most renowned archeological
site, the Egyptian pyramid complex at Giza has three pyramids that were
all built toward the end of ancient Egypt's fourth dynasty of rulers
that reigned from 2589 to 2504 B.C.
The Great Pyramid
of Khufu is the largest of the three Egyptian pyramids at Giza.
Originally about 480 feet tall, the Great Pyramid's base has sides that
are longer than 754 feet and are oriented in the direction of the four
cardinal points of the compass. People have stood in awe of this
largest of Egyptian pyramids. Khufu's pyramid was looted by grave
robbers and had its outer limestone casing scraped off and used for
building projects elsewhere. But now, this Egyptian pyramid is once
again revered as a link to Egypt's past and is protected so that
visitors can experience its wonder for years to come.
Interesting Fact:
Pyramid of Khufu is revered as a symbol of long lasting durability and
that is probably the reason for its placement on the back of the US
Dollar Bill. 

Artist Rendition of Menkaure
Pyramids in the Mist

Pyramids in China


Since many years already in the popular scientific community and in publications there are many announcements and contentions of gigantic pyramids in China. The puzzle around the look-up seems final after new discoveries. With the help of Google Earth, the objects are to be seen impressively. It can not be maintained longer, there might be no pyramids in China.!They have four sides and they are even square like the pyramids in Egypt and in Mexico. Its size can quite be matched with those of the Pharaons and of the Inca rulers.

Already in 1912 of the two travel agents Fred Meyer Schroder and Oscar Maman reported of a tremendous building that they had seen in China.“It was more eerie than if we had found them in the wilderness. Here they had been under the nose of the world, but unknown to the western countries… The big pyramid is about 1,000 feet high (other descriptions estimate 1,000 to 1,200 feet high) and roughly 1,500 feet at the base, which makes it twice as large as any pyramid in Egypt. The four faces of the structure are oriented with the compass points,” the two travellers reported.

During the second world war, the pilot of the American Air Force, James Gaussman, with his co-pilot, flow – through a technical defect at his machine -, for several times over a specific territory in China. What he later reported sounds completely unbelievable: “I banked to avoid a mountain and we came out over a level valley. Directly below was a gigantic white pyramid. It looked like something out of a fairy tale. It was encased in shimmering white. This could have been metal, or some sort of stone. It was pure white on all sides. The remarkable thing was the capstone, a huge piece of jewel-like material that could have been crystal. There was no way we could have landed, although we wanted to. We were struck by the immensity of the thing”, the pilots reported.

On March 28, 1947 the “New York Times” reported about that discovery. In an interview with the newspaper, the former far east director of the Transworld Airlines, Maurice Sheahan, says he has seen 40 miles southwest of Xian a gigantic pyramid.“I was impressed by its perfect pyramidal form and its great size,” says Sheahan.

Later, on March 30, 1947 the “New York Sunday Times” take over the report and published at the first the photo, which is actually made in 1945 by Gaussmann, and that was soon forgotten.

The photo of the “white pyramide” of 1947.

In 1978 the New Zealand researcher Bruce L. Cathie bothered itself of a clarification

of the puzzle. According to some correspondence with the Chinese embassy and the US air force he kept up the photo of 1947. He published the picture later in the first edition of his book “The Bridge to Infinity” of 1983. According to the photograph and the reports, the New Zealand researcher estimate that the pyramid must have at their basis a length of 450 meters (1500 feet) and a height of about 300 meters (1000 feet). It is a pyramid with four flat trapezoid shaped sides, a square plateau on the top and a square base, like the pyramids in Egypt and in Mexico. Such pyramids were up to now unknown to the experts in the western world and its existence was always denied: “There are no pyramids in China! Only pagodas – temple liked, peaked buildings”, so the opinion of the world experts.

I came to the “white pyramid” when I already read reports in specialized books before and then I saw the appropriate photograph in the book “The Face on Mars” of 1989 from the two Australian authors Brian Crowley and James J. Hurtak. Brian Crowley then sent a copy of the image in his book to me and then I passed it to Peter Krassa – a Austrian book author and China researcher. Later I published it in my German book “Das Marsgesicht” (The Face on Mars) of 1995.

I have left indeed Peter Krassa the photograph, but I wanted to however make and therefore prove attentive, that there are in fact pyramids in China. At the German edition “Ancient Skies”, the journal of the “Ancient Astronaut Society”, no. 6, 1991, I published a short report. One did not want to however publish the photograph of 1947. Gene Phillips, the founders of the mentioned society, has refused a report from me in the American journal of the Society – with the reason, the photograph could be “something doctored”, somehow falsified. He considered the photograph for a forgery.

However, I was some extent amazed when I saw a German book in a bookshop in Hamburg, Germany – during a lecture trip – with the title “Die weisse Pyramide” (The white pyramid), written by Hartwig Hausdorf, he was until then completely unknown to me. The book appeared in 1994 and then I found out that Peter Krassa had made the photograph available to him – without my knowledge. However, Hartwig Hausdorf mentioned me in his book so the case is functional. Hartwig Hausdorf was very much strove anyway – and that was also my aim – for the thing and he has undertaken several China trips, around the report to go onto the basis. He found several pyramid mountains in China in fact and he has also published photographs from that. These were the first real evidence that there are pyramidal buildings in China exist. The “white pyramid” could constitute Hausdorf nonetheless not.

Bruce L. Cathie announces many details in its book “The bridge to Infinity” over pyramids in China and especially over the “white pyramid” – so too precise coordinate information. They should be had found north of the contemporary city Sian (Xi´an), by the foot of the river Wei-ho – exact at 34.26 degrees of northern width and 108.52 degrees of eastern length. This data were for me very helpful when I searched in September 2006, with “Google Earth” over China after the pyramids. This program was in the last years set up extended from Google into the Internet and one can recognize phantastic details of the Earth’s surface, by means of satellite consumption – as e.g. too the mysterious lines in the plain of Nazca. The solution is not in all fields optimally, nevertheless mostly quite well.

According to some trouble I then kept up after the coordinate information of Bruce L. Cathie two pyramids. As result, I found further, more than twenty and bigger pyramids. They are square earth-pillars, constructed by Chinese craftsmen a long time ago very obviously. The professional world has therefore improper. There are indeed pyramids in China! Google Earth confirmed that again. The biggest one in this area is on 34.23 degrees North and 108.42 degrees East. The opinions diverge via the age of the pyramids. Some speak of 2500 to 3500 years. The legendary “Emperor of the prehistoric time” should at that time have been there.

The pyramids are in the province Shaanxi, north of the city Sian (Xi´an). On the satellite photographs of Google Earth, no “white pyramid” is to be recognized. Under the coordinates 34.26 degrees of Nord and 108.52 degrees East, two pyramids are visible, but however they are not identical to the photo from 1947. The pyramid lying a little southwest, in my opinion, comes onto 34.22 Nord most of all and 108.41 East, north of the small city Hsien-yang into consideration. An arrangement shows similar factors as on the photograph from 1947: A square plateau, grazes (excavations) on the sidewalls, similar ones walkways (streets) and in the background, a small settlement. But that pyramid is definitely not the “white Pyramide”.

In some Internet pages (Chris Maier) and in the homepage of wikipedia, the Maoling mausoleum is compared with the “white pyramid”. And that is in actual fact correct. Already on former satellite images which were published in the homepage of of November 2001, that is to be recognized. With Google Earth, this pyramid – although at present another with bad resolution – is it to be seen also. They lies west of the pyramids of Hsien-yang, close to the city Xianyang, on 30.20 degrees North and 108.34 degrees East.

The “white pyramid” needs not to be a tremendous mystic building. The pilots and the travel agents to see the Maoling mausoleum, with his size – according to the measurements via Google Earth – of about 222 to 217 meters on the ground and his height of about 46 meters, can quite have appeared below glistening sunlight glimmering and quite big. No other pyramid in this area is so big. Only the one on 34.23 North and 108.42 East, which has a size of 219 to 230 meters on the ground. The wellknown Shi Huang-ti Mausoleum, situated 50 kilometers East, has a size of 357 to 354 meters on the base and the whole complex has a size of 488 to 581 meters. But that grave mountain is actually a square mound and not a pyramid. Attainable is the area near Hsien-yang over the city Xi´an (Sian) obvious the airport that Hartwig Hausdorf with some traveling companions already used in 1994. They could for instance constitute seventeen pyramids within a radius of about three kilometers and they estimated its heights at sixty to seventy meters.

Ancient Astronomers of Chichen-Itza, Mexico

Chichén Itzá – El Castillo (pyramid of Kukulkan

“El Caracol” at Chichén Itzá has long been recognized as an astronomical observatory whose foundations are Maya and whose subsequent embellishments are Toltec. Perhaps the most significant alignments of this structure are those of its front door and its principal window, located just above it, both of which look out at the western horizon toward the sunset position on August 13.

The Maya were expert sky-watchers, careful observers of the motions of the celestial bodies. Proof of the Mayan fascination with astronomy is literally carved in stone in the grand architecture at sites such as Chichén Itzá, Uxmal, Uaxactun, Edzna, and dozens more. At many of these sites, hieroglyphic carvings refer to celestial bodies and cycles. Often, the buildings they adorn have been built to align with significant cyclical astronomical events—solstices, equinoxes, the shifting moon, or the rise of planets.

At Chichén Itzá, two structures bear witness to Mayan astronomy: El Castillo and El Caracol. Every year, tens of thousands of visitors flock to Chichén Itzá to see “the snake,” an apparition made of shadows that descends the stairs at El Castillo during the solar equinoxes each spring and fall. At El Caracol, dubbed “the observatory,” narrow shaftlike windows frame important astronomical events. One such window marks an appearance of Venus at a particular point on the horizon that takes place—like clockwork—once every eight years.

“El Caracol” and  El Castillo at Chichén Itzá

“El Caracol” at Chichén Itzá

Giza Pyramids


A striking characteristic of the pyramids and Sphinx of Giza is the way in which they are integrated into a grand architectural plan, based on mathematical and astronomical data. There is no evidence that the pyramids were used as tombs.

What is certain is that two narrow shafts emanating from inside the Great Pyramid were directed to two specific stars: Zeta Orionis, one of the three stars in Orion’s belt, and Sirius, in the constellation of Canis Major. It is certain, too, that the principal Giza monuments form an accurate terrestrial ‘map’ of the three stars of Orion’s belt as these constellations appeared in 10,500 BC.