Colorado State University - Pueblo Student submits stunning story, photo from Iraq
PUEBLO – John Johnson, the instructor of a Continuing Education art history course at Colorado State University-Pueblo, received a surprising photograph along with an assignment from a student taking the course long distance from his station in Iraq that brought contemporary meaning to this class on ancient art history.
David Grant of Colorado Springs was taking the Art History I course while stationed in Iraq as a part of the U.S. Army 4 Platoon, Company Cavalry 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division. According to Johnson, the CSU-Pueblo Art History I class covers human culture from 30,000 BCE (prehistory, the earliest human civilizations and art creations) up to 1300 CE (just before the Renaissance).
As part of the course requirements, students must complete four tests and two papers which contrast and compare two different pieces of included in the Art History text, Gardner's Art through the Ages, A Global History by Fred S. Kleiner, 13th edition. David’s first paper for Art History I compared the similarities and differences of England’s Stonehenge, constructed ca. 3,000 BCE, and the Ziggurat of Ur, dated ca. 2,100 BCE. A ziggurat is an ancient Mesopotamian monumental platform that supported other, higher structures like temples, though few of the brick temples survived to the modern era.
In the past, this area was known as Ur, a Neo-Sumerian state ruled by the kings of Ur. This particular ziggurat is one of the largest in Mesopotamia and is located near modern day Tell Muqayyar, Iraq.
The photograph that accompanied Grant’s assignment brought contemporary meaning to this class on ancient art history as his troop in Iraq were shown strewn along one of the long stairways of the ziggurat, which stands 50 feet high and is made of mud brick.
Johnson commented that the assignment, at least for this student, reflected the true value of humanities courses, which is to help students find enriched meaning in their own lives because of what they have learned about the art of earlier civilizations. He said the humans who built the Ziggurat of Ur so long ago held many of the same aspirations, fears, and desires as those members of David’s troop who posed on the ancient structure.