Sculpture is the branch of the visual arts that operates in three dimensions. It is one of the plastic arts. Durable sculptural processes used carving and modelling, in stone, ceramics and other materials but, since Modernism, there has been an complete freedom of materials and process. A wide variety of materials may be worked by removal such as carving, assembled by welding or modelling, or molded or cast. Sculpture in stone survives far better than works of art in perishable materials, represents the majority of the surviving works from ancient cultures, though conversely traditions of sculpture in wood may have vanished entirely. However, most ancient sculpture was brightly painted, this has been lost. Sculpture has been central in religious devotion in many cultures, until recent centuries large sculptures, too expensive for private individuals to create, were an expression of religion or politics; those cultures whose sculptures have survived in quantities include the cultures of the ancient Mediterranean and China, as well as many in Central and South America and Africa.
The Western tradition of sculpture began in ancient Greece, Greece is seen as producing great masterpieces in the classical period. During the Middle Ages, Gothic sculpture represented the agonies and passions of the Christian faith; the revival of classical models in the Renaissance produced famous sculptures such as Michelangelo's David. Modernist sculpture moved away from traditional processes and the emphasis on the depiction of the human body, with the making of constructed sculpture, the presentation of found objects as finished art works. A basic distinction is between sculpture in the round, free-standing sculpture, such as statues, not attached to any other surface, the various types of relief, which are at least attached to a background surface. Relief is classified by the degree of projection from the wall into low or bas-relief, high relief, sometimes an intermediate mid-relief. Sunk-relief is a technique restricted to ancient Egypt. Relief is the usual sculptural medium for large figure groups and narrative subjects, which are difficult to accomplish in the round, is the typical technique used both for architectural sculpture, attached to buildings, for small-scale sculpture decorating other objects, as in much pottery and jewellery.
Relief sculpture may decorate steles, upright slabs of stone also containing inscriptions. Another basic distinction is between subtractive carving techniques, which remove material from an existing block or lump, for example of stone or wood, modelling techniques which shape or build up the work from the material. Techniques such as casting and moulding use an intermediate matrix containing the design to produce the work; the term "sculpture" is used to describe large works, which are sometimes called monumental sculpture, meaning either or both of sculpture, large, or, attached to a building. But the term properly covers many types of small works in three dimensions using the same techniques, including coins and medals, hardstone carvings, a term for small carvings in stone that can take detailed work; the large or "colossal" statue has had an enduring appeal since antiquity. Another grand form of portrait sculpture is the equestrian statue of a rider on horse, which has become rare in recent decades.
The smallest forms of life-size portrait sculpture are the "head", showing just that, or the bust, a representation of a person from the chest up. Small forms of sculpture include the figurine a statue, no more than 18 inches tall, for reliefs the plaquette, medal or coin. Modern and contemporary art have added a number of non-traditional forms of sculpture, including sound sculpture, light sculpture, environmental art, environmental sculpture, street art sculpture, kinetic sculpture, land art, site-specific art. Sculpture is an important form of public art. A collection of sculpture in a garden setting can be called a sculpture garden. One of the most common purposes of sculpture is in some form of association with religion. Cult images are common in many cultures, though they are not the colossal statues of deities which characterized ancient Greek art, like the Statue of Zeus at Olympia; the actual cult images in the innermost sanctuaries of Egyptian temples, of which none have survived, were evidently rather small in the largest temples.
The same is true in Hinduism, where the simple and ancient form of the lingam is the most common. Buddhism brought the sculpture of religious figures to East Asia, where there seems to have been no earlier equivalent tradition, though again simple shapes like the bi and cong had religious significance. Small sculptures as personal possessions go back to the earliest prehistoric art, the use of large sculpture as public art to impress the viewer with the power of a ruler, goes back at least to the Great Sphinx of some 4,500 years ago. In archaeology and art history the appearance, sometimes disappearance, of large or monumental sculpture in a culture is regarded as of great significance, though tracing the emergence is complicated by the presumed existence of sculpture in wood and other perishable materials of which no record remains; the ability to s
The Louvre, or the Louvre Museum, is the world's largest art museum and a historic monument in Paris, France. A central landmark of the city, it is located on the Right Bank of the Seine in the city's 1st arrondissement. 38,000 objects from prehistory to the 21st century are exhibited over an area of 72,735 square metres. In 2018, the Louvre was the world's most visited art museum; the museum is housed in the Louvre Palace built as the Louvre castle in the late 12th to 13th century under Philip II. Remnants of the fortress are visible in the basement of the museum. Due to the urban expansion of the city, the fortress lost its defensive function and, in 1546, was converted by Francis I into the main residence of the French Kings; the building was extended many times to form the present Louvre Palace. In 1682, Louis XIV chose the Palace of Versailles for his household, leaving the Louvre as a place to display the royal collection, from 1692, a collection of ancient Greek and Roman sculpture. In 1692, the building was occupied by the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres and the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture, which in 1699 held the first of a series of salons.
The Académie remained at the Louvre for 100 years. During the French Revolution, the National Assembly decreed that the Louvre should be used as a museum to display the nation's masterpieces; the museum opened on 10 August 1793 with an exhibition of 537 paintings, the majority of the works being royal and confiscated church property. Because of structural problems with the building, the museum was closed in 1796 until 1801; the collection was increased under Napoleon and the museum was renamed Musée Napoléon, but after Napoleon's abdication many works seized by his armies were returned to their original owners. The collection was further increased during the reigns of Louis XVIII and Charles X, during the Second French Empire the museum gained 20,000 pieces. Holdings have grown through donations and bequests since the Third Republic; the collection is divided among eight curatorial departments: Egyptian Antiquities. The Louvre Palace, which houses the museum, was begun as a fortress by Philip II in the 12th century to protect the city from English soldiers which were in Normandy.
Remnants of this castle are still visible in the crypt. Whether this was the first building on that spot is not known. According to the authoritative Grand Larousse encyclopédique, the name derives from an association with wolf hunting den. In the 7th century, St. Fare, an abbess in Meaux, left part of her "Villa called Luvra situated in the region of Paris" to a monastery.. The Louvre Palace was altered throughout the Middle Ages. In the 14th century, Charles V converted the building into a residence and in 1546, Francis I renovated the site in French Renaissance style. Francis acquired what would become the nucleus of the Louvre's holdings, his acquisitions including Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa. After Louis XIV chose Versailles as his residence in 1682, constructions slowed. Four generations of Boulle were granted Royal patronage and resided in the Louvre in the following order: Pierre Boulle, Jean Boulle, Andre-Charles Boulle and his four sons, after him. André-Charles Boulle is the most famous French cabinetmaker and the preeminent artist in the field of marquetry known as "Inlay".
Boulle was "the most remarkable of all French cabinetmakers". He was commended to Louis XIV of France, the "Sun King", by Jean-Baptiste Colbert as being "the most skilled craftsman in his profession". Before the fire of 1720 destroyed them, André-Charles Boulle held priceless works of art in the Louvre, including forty-eight drawings by Raphael'. By the mid-18th century there were an increasing number of proposals to create a public gallery, with the art critic La Font de Saint-Yenne publishing, in 1747, a call for a display of the royal collection. On 14 October 1750, Louis XV agreed and sanctioned a display of 96 pieces from the royal collection, mounted in the Galerie royale de peinture of the Luxembourg Palace. A hall was opened by Le Normant de Tournehem and the Marquis de Marigny for public viewing of the Tableaux du Roy on Wednesdays and Saturdays, contained Andrea del Sarto's Charity and works by Raphael. Under Louis XVI, the royal museum idea became policy; the comte d'Angiviller broadened the collection and in 1776 proposed conversion of the Grande Galerie of the Louvre – which contained maps – into the "French Museum".
Many proposals were offered for the Louvre's renovation into a museum. Hence the museum remained incomplete until the French Revolution. During the French Revolution the Louvre was transformed into a public museum. In May 1791, the Assembly declared that the Louvre would be "a place for bringing together monuments of all the sciences and arts". On 10 August 1792, Louis XVI was imprisoned and the royal collection i
Milan is a city in northern Italy, capital of Lombardy, the second-most populous city in Italy after Rome, with the city proper having a population of 1,372,810 while its metropolitan city has a population of 3,245,308. Its continuously built-up urban area has a population estimated to be about 5,270,000 over 1,891 square kilometres; the wider Milan metropolitan area, known as Greater Milan, is a polycentric metropolitan region that extends over central Lombardy and eastern Piedmont and which counts an estimated total population of 7.5 million, making it by far the largest metropolitan area in Italy and the 54th largest in the world. Milan served as capital of the Western Roman Empire from 286 to 402 and the Duchy of Milan during the medieval period and early modern age. Milan is considered a leading alpha global city, with strengths in the field of the art, design, entertainment, finance, media, services and tourism, its business district hosts Italy's stock exchange and the headquarters of national and international banks and companies.
In terms of GDP, it has the third-largest economy among European cities after Paris and London, but the fastest in growth among the three, is the wealthiest among European non-capital cities. Milan is considered part of the Blue Banana and one of the "Four Motors for Europe"; the city has been recognized as one of the world's four fashion capitals thanks to several international events and fairs, including Milan Fashion Week and the Milan Furniture Fair, which are among the world's biggest in terms of revenue and growth. It hosted the Universal Exposition in 1906 and 2015; the city hosts numerous cultural institutions and universities, with 11% of the national total enrolled students. Milan is the destination of 8 million overseas visitors every year, attracted by its museums and art galleries that boast some of the most important collections in the world, including major works by Leonardo da Vinci; the city is served by a large number of luxury hotels and is the fifth-most starred in the world by Michelin Guide.
The city is home to two of Europe's most successful football teams, A. C. Milan and F. C. Internazionale, one of Italy's main basketball teams, Olimpia Milano; the etymology of the name Milan remains uncertain. One theory holds that the Latin name Mediolanum planus. However, some scholars believe that lanum comes from the Celtic root lan, meaning an enclosure or demarcated territory in which Celtic communities used to build shrines. Hence Mediolanum could signify the central sanctuary of a Celtic tribe. Indeed, about sixty Gallo-Roman sites in France bore the name "Mediolanum", for example: Saintes and Évreux. In addition, another theory links the name to the boar sow an ancient emblem of the city, fancifully accounted for in Andrea Alciato's Emblemata, beneath a woodcut of the first raising of the city walls, where a boar is seen lifted from the excavation, the etymology of Mediolanum given as "half-wool", explained in Latin and in French; the foundation of Milan is credited to two Celtic peoples, the Bituriges and the Aedui, having as their emblems a ram and a boar.
Alciato credits Ambrose for his account. The Celtic Insubres, the inhabitants of the region of northern Italy called Insubria, appear to have founded Milan around 600 BC. According to the legend reported by Livy, the Gaulish king Ambicatus sent his nephew Bellovesus into northern Italy at the head of a party drawn from various Gaulish tribes; the Romans, led by consul Gnaeus Cornelius Scipio Calvus, fought the Insubres and captured the city in 222 BC. They conquered the entirety of the region, calling the new province "Cisalpine Gaul" – "Gaul this side of the Alps" – and may have given the site its Latinized Celtic name of Mediolanum: in Gaulish *medio- meant "middle, center" and the name element -lanon is the Celtic equivalent of Latin -planum "plain", thus *Mediolanon meant " in the midst of the plain". In 286 the Roman Emperor Diocletian moved the capital of the Western Roman Empire from Rome to Mediolanum. Diocletian himself chose to reside at Nicomedia in the Eastern Empire, leaving his colleague Maximian at Milan.
Maximian built several gigantic monuments, the large circus, the thermae or "Baths of Hercules", a large complex of imperial palaces and other services and buildings of which fewer visible traces remain. Maximian increased the city area surrounded by a new, larger stone wall encompassing an area of 375 acres with many 24-sided towers; the monumental area had twin towers. From Mediolanum the Emperor Constantine issued the Edict of Milan in 313 AD, granting tolerance to all religions within the Empire, thus paving the way for Christianity to become the dominant religion of Roman Europe. Constantine had come to Mediolanum to celebrate the wedding of his sister
Victoria and Albert Museum
The Victoria and Albert Museum in London is the world's largest museum of applied and decorative arts and design, as well as sculpture, housing a permanent collection of over 2.27 million objects. It was named after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert; the V&A is located in the Brompton district of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, in an area that has become known as "Albertopolis" because of its association with Prince Albert, the Albert Memorial and the major cultural institutions with which he was associated. These include the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum, the Royal Albert Hall and Imperial College London; the museum is a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Culture and Sport. As with other national British museums, entrance is free; the V&A covers 145 galleries. Its collection spans 5,000 years of art, from ancient times to the present day, from the cultures of Europe, North America and North Africa. However, the art of antiquity in most areas is not collected.
The holdings of ceramics, textiles, silver, jewellery, medieval objects, sculpture and printmaking, drawings and photographs are among the largest and most comprehensive in the world. The museum owns the world's largest collection of post-classical sculpture, with the holdings of Italian Renaissance items being the largest outside Italy; the departments of Asia include art from South Asia, Japan and the Islamic world. The East Asian collections are among the best in Europe, with particular strengths in ceramics and metalwork, while the Islamic collection is amongst the largest in the Western world. Overall, it is one of the largest museums in the world. Since 2001 the museum has embarked on a major £150m renovation programme. New 17th- and 18th-century European galleries were opened on 9 December 2015; these restored the original Aston Webb interiors and host the European collections 1600–1815. The V&A Museum of Childhood in East London is a branch of the museum, a new branch in London is being planned.
The Victoria and Albert Museum has its origins in the Great Exhibition of 1851, with which Henry Cole, the museum's first director, was involved in planning. It was known as the Museum of Manufactures, first opening in May 1852 at Marlborough House, but by September had been transferred to Somerset House. At this stage the collections covered both applied science. Several of the exhibits from the Exhibition were purchased to form the nucleus of the collection. By February 1854 discussions were underway to transfer the museum to the current site and it was renamed South Kensington Museum. In 1855 the German architect Gottfried Semper, at the request of Cole, produced a design for the museum, but it was rejected by the Board of Trade as too expensive; the site was occupied by Brompton Park House. The official opening by Queen Victoria was on 20 June 1857. In the following year, late night openings were introduced, made possible by the use of gas lighting; this was to enable in the words of Cole "to ascertain what hours are most convenient to the working classes"—this was linked to the use of the collections of both applied art and science as educational resources to help boost productive industry.
In these early years the practical use of the collection was much emphasised as opposed to that of "High Art" at the National Gallery and scholarship at the British Museum. George Wallis, the first Keeper of Fine Art Collection, passionately promoted the idea of wide art education through the museum collections; this led to the transfer to the museum of the School of Design, founded in 1837 at Somerset House. From the 1860s to the 1880s the scientific collections had been moved from the main museum site to various improvised galleries to the west of Exhibition Road. In 1893 the "Science Museum" had come into existence when a separate director was appointed; the laying of the foundation stone of the Aston Webb building on 17 May 1899 was the last official public appearance by Queen Victoria. It was during this ceremony that the change of name from the South Kensington Museum to the Victoria and Albert Museum was made public. Queen Victoria's address during the ceremony, as recorded in The London Gazette, ended: "I trust that it will remain for ages a Monument of discerning Liberality and a Source of Refinement and Progress."The exhibition which the museum organised to celebrate the centennial of the 1899 renaming, "A Grand Design", first toured in North America from 1997, returning to London in 1999.
To accompany and support the exhibition, the museum published a book, Grand Design, which it has made available for reading online on its website. The opening ceremony for the Aston Webb building by King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra took place on 26 June 1909. In 1914 the construction commenced of the Science Museum, signalling the final split of the science and art collections. In 1939 on the outbreak of World War II, most of the collection was sent to a quarry in Wiltshire, to Montacute House in Somerset, or to a tunnel near Aldwych tube station, with larger items remaining in situ, sand-bagged and bricked in. Between 1941 and 1944 some galleries were used as a school for chil
University of Cambridge
The University of Cambridge is a collegiate public research university in Cambridge, United Kingdom. Founded in 1209 and granted a Royal Charter by King Henry III in 1231, Cambridge is the second-oldest university in the English-speaking world and the world's fourth-oldest surviving university; the university grew out of an association of scholars who left the University of Oxford after a dispute with the townspeople. The two'ancient universities' share many common features and are referred to jointly as'Oxbridge'; the history and influence of the University of Cambridge has made it one of the most prestigious universities in the world. Cambridge is formed from a variety of institutions which include 31 constituent Colleges and over 100 academic departments organised into six schools. Cambridge University Press, a department of the university, is the world's oldest publishing house and the second-largest university press in the world; the university operates eight cultural and scientific museums, including the Fitzwilliam Museum, as well as a botanic garden.
Cambridge's libraries hold a total of around 15 million books, eight million of which are in Cambridge University Library, a legal deposit library. In the fiscal year ending 31 July 2018, the university had a total income of £1.965 billion, of which £515.5 million was from research grants and contracts. In the financial year ending 2017, the central university and colleges had combined net assets of around £11.8 billion, the largest of any university in the country. However, the true extent of Cambridge's wealth is much higher as many colleges hold their historic main sites, which date as far back as the 13th century, at depreceated valuations. Furthermore, many of the wealthiest colleges do not account for “heritage assets” such as works of art, libraries or artefacts, whose value many college accounts describe as “immaterial”; the university is linked with the development of the high-tech business cluster known as'Silicon Fen'. It is a member of numerous associations and forms part of the'golden triangle' of English universities and Cambridge University Health Partners, an academic health science centre.
As of 2018, Cambridge is the top-ranked university in the United Kingdom according to all major league tables. As of September 2017, Cambridge is ranked the world's second best university by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, is ranked 3rd worldwide by Academic Ranking of World Universities, 6th by QS, 7th by US News. According to the Times Higher Education ranking, no other institution in the world ranks in the top 10 for as many subjects; the university has educated many notable alumni, including eminent mathematicians, politicians, philosophers, writers and foreign Heads of State. As of March 2019, 118 Nobel Laureates, 11 Fields Medalists, 7 Turing Award winners and 15 British Prime Ministers have been affiliated with Cambridge as students, faculty or research staff. By the late 12th century, the Cambridge area had a scholarly and ecclesiastical reputation, due to monks from the nearby bishopric church of Ely. However, it was an incident at Oxford, most to have led to the establishment of the university: two Oxford scholars were hanged by the town authorities for the death of a woman, without consulting the ecclesiastical authorities, who would take precedence in such a case, but were at that time in conflict with King John.
The University of Oxford went into suspension in protest, most scholars moved to cities such as Paris and Cambridge. After the University of Oxford reformed several years enough scholars remained in Cambridge to form the nucleus of the new university. In order to claim precedence, it is common for Cambridge to trace its founding to the 1231 charter from King Henry III granting it the right to discipline its own members and an exemption from some taxes. A bull in 1233 from Pope Gregory IX gave graduates from Cambridge the right to teach "everywhere in Christendom". After Cambridge was described as a studium generale in a letter from Pope Nicholas IV in 1290, confirmed as such in a bull by Pope John XXII in 1318, it became common for researchers from other European medieval universities to visit Cambridge to study or to give lecture courses; the colleges at the University of Cambridge were an incidental feature of the system. No college is as old as the university itself; the colleges were endowed fellowships of scholars.
There were institutions without endowments, called hostels. The hostels were absorbed by the colleges over the centuries, but they have left some traces, such as the name of Garret Hostel Lane. Hugh Balsham, Bishop of Ely, founded Peterhouse, Cambridge's first college, in 1284. Many colleges were founded during the 14th and 15th centuries, but colleges continued to be established until modern times, although there was a gap of 204 years between the founding of Sidney Sussex in 1596 and that of Downing in 1800; the most established college is Robinson, built in the late 1970s. However, Homerton College only achieved full university college status in March 2010, making it the newest full college. In medieval times, many colleges were founded so that their members would pray for the souls of the founders, were associated with chapels or abbeys; the colleges' focus changed in 1536 with the Dissolution of the Monasteries. King Henry VIII ordered the university to disband its Faculty of Canon Law and to stop teaching "scholastic philosophy".
In response, colleges changed
For the early 17th-century composer, see Leone Leoni. Leone Leoni was an Italian sculptor of international outlook who travelled in Italy, Austria, France and the Netherlands. Leoni is regarded as the finest of the Cinquecento medallists, he made his reputation in commissions he received from the Habsburg monarchs Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and Philip II of Spain. His usual medium was bronze, although he worked in marble and alabaster, carved gemstones and left some finished work in wax, as well as designing coins, he produced portraits, was used by the Spanish, the Austrian, Habsburgs. His family origins were at Arezzo, though he was born at Menaggio near Lake Como, his early training, to judge from the finish of his medals, was with a medallist or goldsmith, as Vasari says, his earliest documentation finds him at Venice after 1533, with his wife and infant son, living under the protection of his Aretine compatriot, Pietro Aretino, who introduced him to the circle of Titian. Taking advantage of his rival Benvenuto Cellini's being in prison at the time, he secured the role of designer for the Papal mint in Ferrara but was forced to withdraw under accusations of counterfeiting levelled by Pellegrino di Leuti, the jeweller of the Farnese Pope Paul III.
Leoni attacked Pellegrino and was condemned to lose his right hand, a sentence commuted after the intercession of powerful friends to slavery in the galleys, from which the entreaties of Andrea Doria released him after a year: Leoni produced three plaquettes and five medals of Andrea Doria as tokens of his gratitude. Once freed from the galleys, he "continued his alternation of criminal violence and exquisite workmanship" moving to Milan to take up an Imperial appointment as master of the mint there, from 20 February 1542, at 150 ducats a year and the gift of a house in the Moroni district of Milan. Leoni's house in Milan, rebuilt 1565-67, was called the Casa degli Omenoni for its heroically-scaled herm figures and bearded atlantes, a rarity in Milan at the time; the figures were carved by Antonio Abondio. Here he entertained Giorgio Vasari, who noted Leoni's large collection of plaster casts after the Antique, dominated by a stucco of the equestrian Marcus Aurelius from the Campidoglio in his courtyard.
His early protector in Milan, with whom he was on familiar terms, was the Imperial Governor, Ferrante Gonzaga. He lived in Milan thereafter, despite calls from his patrons to base himself, or at least present himself, at court, claiming that only there could he obtain the proper materials for his work - a notable contrast with Giambologna, never allowed to leave Florence by his Grand Duke, as he bitterly complained, for fear the Habsburgs would ensnare him. Among other violent incidents, he was supposed to have attempted to murder Titian's son, staying with him in Milan, he had made an early reputation for portrait medallions, before his major commissions from Charles V, whose image for posterity lies in his portraits by Titian and Leoni. Leoni was the guest of Charles in Brussels in 1549, the first of the portraits from life dates from this time. In Brussels the Emperor installed Leoni in an apartment below his own and delighted in his company, spending hours watching him at work, Vasari recalled.
He knighted Leoni on 2 November 1549. For the cathedral of Milan, Leone executed the five bronze figures for the monument of the condottiero Gian Giacomo Medici, brother of Pope Pius IV, in a marble architectural setting that Vasari attributed to a drawing by Michelangelo. On a commission from Cardinal Granvelle, Bishop of Arras, Archbishop of Malines, Viceroy of Naples, the leading Habsburg minister, Leone cast life-sized half-figures in richly framed ovals, of Charles and the Cardinal, described by Vasari. Granvelle would correspond with Leoni, whom he may have known from his youth in as a student in Padua, about Habsburg commissions. A marble portrait of Giovan Battista Castaldo, at the Church of San Bartolomeo, Nocera Inferiore — a commission mentioned by Vasari who thought it was bronze and did not know to which monastery it had been sent — was included in the exhibition Tiziano e il ritratto di corte, Museo di Capodimonte, Naples, 2006. Leoni's commissions for royal portraiture in Spain were an extension of his Habsburg patronage.
On his return from Spain, where he executed the series of royal portraits, he brought a purse of 2000 scudi, according to Vasari. He pioneered, he made life-size full-length portrait bronzes, like that of Charles V, which were not intended as funerary effigies, as nearly all previous examples had been. Leoni was assisted in the monumental bronzes destined for the Escorial by his son Pompeo Leoni, who continued the large bronze-casting foundry after his father's death, in a style, not securely separated from that of his father. Among the assistants to Pompeo was Adriaen de Vries. Pompeo assembled the drawings and notes of Leonardo da Vinci that constitute the Codex Atlanticus in Milan. Leoni's name remained among the few recognizable landmarks in 16th century sculpture and attracted many attributions during the nineteenth century. George Sand's Leone Leoni is not based on the sculptor's caree
Mesopotamia is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris–Euphrates river system, in modern days corresponding to most of Iraq, parts of Northern Saudi Arabia, the eastern parts of Syria, Southeastern Turkey, regions along the Turkish–Syrian and Iran–Iraq borders. The Sumerians and Akkadians dominated Mesopotamia from the beginning of written history to the fall of Babylon in 539 BC, when it was conquered by the Achaemenid Empire, it fell to Alexander the Great in 332 BC, after his death, it became part of the Greek Seleucid Empire. Around 150 BC, Mesopotamia was under the control of the Parthian Empire. Mesopotamia became a battleground between the Romans and Parthians, with western parts of Mesopotamia coming under ephemeral Roman control. In AD 226, the eastern regions of Mesopotamia fell to the Sassanid Persians; the division of Mesopotamia between Roman and Sassanid Empires lasted until the 7th century Muslim conquest of Persia of the Sasanian Empire and Muslim conquest of the Levant from Byzantines.
A number of neo-Assyrian and Christian native Mesopotamian states existed between the 1st century BC and 3rd century AD, including Adiabene and Hatra. Mesopotamia is the site of the earliest developments of the Neolithic Revolution from around 10,000 BC, it has been identified as having "inspired some of the most important developments in human history including the invention of the wheel, the planting of the first cereal crops and the development of cursive script, mathematics and agriculture". The regional toponym Mesopotamia comes from the ancient Greek root words μέσος "middle" and ποταμός "river" and translates to " between two/the rivers", it is used throughout the Greek Septuagint to translate the Aramaic equivalent Naharaim. An earlier Greek usage of the name Mesopotamia is evident from The Anabasis of Alexander, written in the late 2nd century AD, but refers to sources from the time of Alexander the Great. In the Anabasis, Mesopotamia was used to designate the land east of the Euphrates in north Syria.
The Aramaic term biritum/birit narim corresponded to a similar geographical concept. The term Mesopotamia was more applied to all the lands between the Euphrates and the Tigris, thereby incorporating not only parts of Syria but almost all of Iraq and southeastern Turkey; the neighbouring steppes to the west of the Euphrates and the western part of the Zagros Mountains are often included under the wider term Mesopotamia. A further distinction is made between Northern or Upper Mesopotamia and Southern or Lower Mesopotamia. Upper Mesopotamia known as the Jazira, is the area between the Euphrates and the Tigris from their sources down to Baghdad. Lower Mesopotamia is the area from Baghdad to the Persian Gulf and includes Kuwait and parts of western Iran. In modern academic usage, the term Mesopotamia also has a chronological connotation, it is used to designate the area until the Muslim conquests, with names like Syria and Iraq being used to describe the region after that date. It has been argued that these euphemisms are Eurocentric terms attributed to the region in the midst of various 19th-century Western encroachments.
Mesopotamia encompasses the land between the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, both of which have their headwaters in the Taurus Mountains. Both rivers are fed by numerous tributaries, the entire river system drains a vast mountainous region. Overland routes in Mesopotamia follow the Euphrates because the banks of the Tigris are steep and difficult; the climate of the region is semi-arid with a vast desert expanse in the north which gives way to a 15,000-square-kilometre region of marshes, mud flats, reed banks in the south. In the extreme south, the Euphrates and the Tigris empty into the Persian Gulf; the arid environment which ranges from the northern areas of rain-fed agriculture to the south where irrigation of agriculture is essential if a surplus energy returned on energy invested is to be obtained. This irrigation is aided by a high water table and by melting snows from the high peaks of the northern Zagros Mountains and from the Armenian Highlands, the source of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers that give the region its name.
The usefulness of irrigation depends upon the ability to mobilize sufficient labor for the construction and maintenance of canals, this, from the earliest period, has assisted the development of urban settlements and centralized systems of political authority. Agriculture throughout the region has been supplemented by nomadic pastoralism, where tent-dwelling nomads herded sheep and goats from the river pastures in the dry summer months, out into seasonal grazing lands on the desert fringe in the wet winter season; the area is lacking in building stone, precious metals and timber, so has relied upon long-distance trade of agricultural products to secure these items from outlying areas. In the marshlands to the south of the area, a complex water-borne fishing culture has existed since prehistoric times, has added to the cultural mix. Periodic breakdowns in the cultural system have occurred for a number of reasons; the demands for labor has from time to time led to population increases that push the limits of the ecological carrying capacity, should a period of climatic instability ensue, collapsing central government a