Glazed Bricks (Top)
Clay, glaze
Neo-Assyrian Period, reign of King Sargon II,
ca. 721-705 B.C.
Sin Temple, Khorsabad
Excavated by the Oriental Institute, 1932
OIM A11810.271, A11810.272

 

The bricks with rosettes pictured at the top left were excavated by the Oriental Institute in 1932. They once formed part of the decoration of a temple façade at the ancient Mesopotamian site of Khorsabad. The drawing on the bottom left is an artist's rendering of what part of that façade looked like when it was first exposed by French archaeologists in the mid-1800s. The rosettes formed the border for a design that included the fig tree and seeder plow shown here.


The seeder plow, invented by the Mesopotamians, was a major technological achievement. It revolutionized agriculture by carrying out the tasks of seeding and ploughing simultaneously. Seed was dropped down the middle funnel into the furrow that the plow created. The ancient Mesopotamians believed that the god Enlil created the seeder plow and that the image of the plow could also be seen in the stars. They discovered that by observing the movements of celestial bodies they could measure time, which was key for planting crops and for holding religious festivals. Their astronomical observations still aid today's scientists.


The ancient Mesopotamians were a highly inventive people who created many innovations. They not only invented the seeder plow, but also developed writing, irrigation and sanitation techniques, the "Pythagorean theorem," the concept of zero, glass, and the arch, column, and dome. They revolutionized transportation around 3500 B.C. by inventing the wheel and were among the first to harness the wind as an energy source by using the sail.