6 Free eBooks on Near Eastern Art

Art textbooks are expensive. Fortunately, museums like the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Getty Museum have started to make their publications freely available for download. Occasionally other open access books pop up too. Here are 6 books that are great for beginners and have excellent illustrations.



Art of the Ancient Near East: A Resource for Educators

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2010


Provides a useful general overview of important themes in Ancient Near Eastern art illustrated by objects from the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collections.




Art of the First Cities: the Third Millennium B.C. from the Mediterranean to the Indus

Joan Aruz and Ronald Wallenfels (eds.)

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2003


Art and artefacts related to the emergence of cities, from the early cities of Mesopotamia, Egypt, Aegean, western Anatolia, North Caucasus, the Gulf region, Iran, and the Indus area.




Beyond Babylon: Art, Trade, and Diplomacy in the Second Millennium B.C.

Joan Aruz, Kim Benzel, and Jean Evans (eds.)

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2008


Art and artefacts reflecting elite trade amongst the major kingdoms of western Asia, Egypt, and the Aegean during the Middle and Late Bronze Ages (2nd millennium BCE).




Royal Cities of Susa: Ancient Near Eastern Treasures in the Louvre

Prudence O. Harper, Prudence O., Joan Aruz, and Françoise Tallon (eds.)

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1992


Essays on the history and art of ancient (Susa) in Iran, during the 2nd and 1st millennia BCE.





Metalwork from the Hellenized East: Catalogue of the Collections

Michael Pfrommer

J. Paul Getty Museum, 1993


Silver and gold objects, including drinking horns, bowls, cups, jewelry and other decorative items, from ancient Western and Central Asia.





Guide to Ancient Near Eastern Art

Ruth Ezra, Beth Harris, and Steven Zucker (eds.).

Smarthistory, 2019


Collection of all articles on the Smarthistory website relating to ancient Mesopotamia and Iran (up to ~330 BCE). Aimed at readers new to the subject.