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Diorite and Limestone: A Sumerian Perspective

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Chapter Summary

The author has chosen two stones of favorable destiny, diorite and limestone, as case studies in how the Sumerian poet of Lugale explained and understood their use. He offers these interpretive suggestions from Lagashland to the ummia of Nippur, fully aware that the poet would have approached these problems more cautiously than the author, but taking heart from his unfailing generosity and openness of spirit. To a Sumerian viewer, a diorite image, by virtue of its material alone, might have had a different purpose than a limestone one, a distinction not drawn hitherto by modern historians of art. While the author would not insist that the Sumerian interpretation was necessarily consistently observed, the passages in Lugale stand as a rare Mesopotamian statement about its own artistic tradition, in which the public and perpetual monument were distinguished.

Keywords: diorite; Lagashland; limestone; Lugale; Sumerian poet; ummia of Nippur



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