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Near East

Mrs. McKinney

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cylinder seal An arcade having no actual openings, applied as decoration to a wall surface.
ziggurat A curved structural member that spans an opening and is generally composed of wedge-shaped blocks (voussoirs) that transmit the downward pressure laterally. See also thrust.
lapis lazuli In ancient Mesopotamian architecture, a monumental platform for a temple.
putto In Islamic architecture, a vaulted rectangular recess opening onto a courtyard.
votive offering One of a series of superimposed bands or friezes in a pictorial narrative, or the particular levels on which motifs are placed.
arena A whorl of hair, represented as a dot, between the brows; one of the lakshanas of the Buddha.
hierarchy of scale A gift of gratitude to a deity.
barrel vault A vaulted ceiling of semi-circular shape, creating a dome-like appearance.
city-state The chamber at the center of an ancient temple; in a classical temple, the room (Greek, naos) in which the cult statue usually stood.
heraldic composition A collection of illustrations of real and imaginary animals.
foreshortening A carved stone slab used to mark graves or to commemorate historical events.
cella The great audience hall in ancient Persian palaces.
repoussé Usually, the front of a building; also, the other sides when they are emphasized architecturally.
stylus A composition that is symmetrical on either side of a central figure.
urna The part of the entablature between the architrave and the cornice; also, any sculptured or painted band in a building. See register.
lamassu A cherubic young boy.
glazed brick In paintings and reliefs, a painted or carved baseline on which figures appear to stand.
pictograph The use of perspective to represent in art the apparent visual contraction of an object that extends back in space at an angle to the perpendicular plane of sight.
iwan Bricks painted and then kiln fired to fuse the color with the baked clay.
Apadana Greek, “high city.” In ancient Greece, usually the site of the city’s most important temple(s).
acropolis A picture, usually stylized, that represents an idea; also, writing using such means; also painting on rock. See also hieroglyphic.
stele A cylindrical piece of stone usually about an inch or so in height, decorated with an incised design, so that a raised pattern was left when the seal was rolled over soft clay. In the ancient Near East, documents, storage jars, and other important possessions were signed, sealed, and identified in this way.
register Latin, “wedge-shaped.” A system of writing used in ancient Mesopotamia, in which wedge-shaped characters were produced by pressing a stylus into a soft clay tablet, which was then baked or otherwise allowed to harden.
blind arcade An independent, self-governing city.
frieze In a Roman amphitheater, the central area where bloody gladiatorial combats and other boisterous events took place.
facade A needlelike tool used in engraving and incising; also, an ancient writing instrument used to inscribe clay or wax tablets.
glaze Assyrian guardian in the form of a man-headed winged bull.
bestiary Formed in relief by beating a metal plate from the back, leaving the impression on the face. The metal is hammered into a hollow mold of wood or some other pliable material and finished with a graver. See also relief.
cuneiform A decorative row of arches applied to a wall as a decorative element
arch A vitreous coating applied to pottery to seal and decorate the surface; it may be colored, transparent, or opaque, and glossy or matte. In oil painting, a thin, transparent, or semitransparent layer put over a color to alter it slightly.
ground line A rich ultramarine semiprecious stone used for carving and as a source for pigment.
wall arcade An artistic convention in which greater size indicates greater importance.

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