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Uncovering Chaldea: The Architecture and Art of an Ancient Culture

Chaldea was a country that existed in Mesopotamia between the late 10th century BC to about the middle of the 6th century BC. It quietly disappeared leaving behind little evidence of its existence or a clear explanation of where its population went. Historians believe the tribes that made up the country eventually settled in with the rest of the population in Babylonia. The people that formed this tribe were migrating Semitic populations that had drifted to this part of the world from Levant. While there is plenty of knowledge of its beginnings and its people, there are many questions still regarding Chaldean Art.

Searching for Their Style

Chaldean painting styles are somewhat a mystery, but many scholars believe their work was of the highest quality. This belief is due to the quality of sculptures the people of Chaldea were known to create as well as how the people of the country were represented in the contemporary paintings of their time. In these works the Chaldeans were seen to be people who appreciated the finer things, even shown clothed in intricately embroidered clothing. Around 1902, a painting believed to be Chaldean was discovered in the ruins of the palace of their leader Nebuchadnezzar. This was of a lion and was exquisitely done and painted in bright enamels on brick. This lion is now believed to have been the inspiration for the ancient “Lion’s Frieze” that is found at the Persian palace in Susa.

The Inspiration They Provide

A common way for historians to discover more about the culture of a particular people is through the ruins of their civilizations. This has not been entirely possible with Chaldea as very few remnants of their structures have remained. However, it was well-known that others living near them were greatly influenced by their styles. It is possible to see how many other cultures have sculptures, architecture and paint preferences that are similar to each other. This has allowed historians to deduce that many of these styles were inspired or directly borrowed from what was seen in Chaldea.

Exploring The Materials Available

Creativity can be limited by what is available for materials. What these people had available to them were what many others in the area will still find familiar. This includes brick, some stone and an array of metals. Decorating with gold and silver as opposed to other forms of artwork were described as common throughout the area during this time. Marble was considered one of the most distinguished building materials to the people of Chaldea and was typically reserved for important statues and the decorative touches and columns in important public buildings. The most impressive building materials used at the time were probably their colorful tiles and enameled brick. These were frequently seen and were considered to be of such a high quality that other enameled works in neighboring countries paled in comparison. Even today, the hues of the enameled bricks that have been found are still exceptionally brilliant in color.

Exploring the Chaldean Tower

One example of Chaldean architecture that has been found and carefully examined is a 20-foot tower discovered in what is now Iraq. This tower, built under the guidance of Nebuchadnezzar, was designed to recreate Biblical Tower of Babel. Its constructions show how the people of Chaldea appreciated clean lines, softened slightly by plenty of curves and other shapes. Their initial homes were constructed of mud and brick but eventually they advanced to found stones for their homes and large slabs of rock, mostly white rock, for their public buildings.

Archeologists and historians are continuing to make discoveries and uncover the mysteries of this ancient cultural group. Their entire history may not be documented yet, but their influence in art, sculpture and architecture is still seen throughout the Middle East today. As more discoveries come to light, and new connections are made, it is likely that it will be discovered that their influence has extended even further than initially believed.

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