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The Ancient and Medieval Worlds

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LAHS-231 The Ancient and Medieval Worlds                                                                                                          


                                             CLASS OUTLINE


Note: Artworks in bold print are illustrated in Ernst Gombrich, The Story of Art, 16th ed., London, New York: Phaidon Press, 1995. (G #) is the illustration number in this textbook.

                        ART BEFORE HISTORY: THE STONE AGES

Paleolithic Art (c. 35,000–10,000 BCE.)

Statuette of a Woman, c. 28,000–23,000 BCE. From Willendorf, Austria. Stone, height 4 3/8” (11 cm). Naturhistorisches Museum, Vienna.

Woman Holding a Bison Horn, from Laussel, France, c. 25,000–20,000 BCE. Painted limestone, height c. 17” (44 cm). Musée d’Aquitaine, Bordeaux.

Bison with Turned Head, c. 15,000–10,000 BCE. From the La Madeleine cave, Dordogne, France. Reindeer horn, length 4” (10 cm). Musée des Antiquités Nationale, St.-Germain-en-Laye.

Cave at Lascaux, Dordogne, France, c. 15,000–10,000 BCE. (G 21)

  • Horse. Cave painting; Lascaux, France (G 20)
  • Bird-Headed Man between Bison and Rhinoceros. Cave painting; Lascaux, France.

Neolithic Art (c. 9,0001,000 BCE.)

Wall-Paintings from Çatal Hoyük, Turkey

  • View of Town and Volcano, c. 6150 BCE. Level VII. 
  • Deer Hunt, c. 5750 BCE. Level III.
  • Composite view Fuck you
  • Houses built from timber frames with mud. After lime plaster applied paintings were put on top.
  • Squares were supposed to represent houses. In the back strange thing, (volcanoe).
  • Is a diagram. No third dimension, kind of flat. Not supposed to be accurate, just to show town.
  • Lines could be ash or eruption.
  • Once people settled down, paintings actually could depict something. Perhaps a narrative. First painting that depicts a site or landscape.
  • (Deer hunt) Males are usually colored red, while female yellow.
  • Important changes between Glascoux!!! There are people in this one. Old stone age used natural curves. Deer hunt is also a scene or narrative. DH figures much more clear.  

Stonehenge, Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire, England, c. 2950–1600 BCE.

  • Cromlech, post and lintel system
  • These large structures primarily used for tombs.
  • Formed by 30 large stone boulders capped by more stone boulders.
  • Built in stages. There is an outer ditch. 52 holes on the outside that held wodden poles. There were many of these in England.
  • Anchored in holes. Boulders were worked on before they were finished. Tapered it, used optical distortion. Capstones have holes so they are anchored on top.
  • Needed a lot of people that had free time. Must have been a good society.
  • Stones are aligned with movement of sun. If you stood at hill stone during summer solstices you would see sunset come through first stones and vice versa.
  • SH could be used for sun worship or calculating seasons, maybe also a cemetery.

LAHS-231 The Ancient and Medieval Worlds                                                                   2    


Sumerian Art (c. 3500–2000 BCE.)

White Temple and ziggurat at Uruk (modern Warka), Iraq, c. 32003000 BCE.

  • Nanna ziggurat at Ur (modern Muqaiyir), Iraq, c. 2100 BCE.
  • Sumerians first to come out with some kind of script. Wrote on clay tabs
  • First to build temples.
  • Placed on a manmade platform made of mud brick. Thought hills were bridge between heaven and earth.
  • Temples served as form of devotion.
  • Very deteriorated cuz made form bricks, dumbasses
  • Supposed to be house for the Gods, only priests went up

Votive statues, c. 2700 BCE. From the Temple of Abu at Eshunna (modern Tell Asmar), Iraq. Gypsum inlaid with shell and black limestone, height of tallest figure 30” (77 cm). Iraq Museum, Baghdad, and The Oriental Institute, University of Chicago.

Put there for worship or offerings. They were statues of themselves. Mostly male with long beards. Eyes are inlaid with black limestone and white shell. They were all painted. Very stereotypical, thick but short legs broad shoulders.  

The Standard of Ur, c. 2600 BCE. From the cemetery of Ur (modern Muqaiyir), Iraq. Wood inlaid with shell, lapis lazuli and red limestone, length c. 19” (48 cm). British Museum, London. Found in a cemetery. Very skilled artist, particularly in inlaid work. Large wooden box that held something. Belonged to lady that was buried, with lots of jewelry. Large cemetery almost 2000 graves. Most normal except for some with lots of possessions. Some people are feasting on top and below are normal people farmers and shit. Other side is victory scene. Horses are accelerating . There is peace side and war side. No interest in spatial depth. Disproportionate. Soldiers evenly apart to show organization but slaves shown in chaos.

Fragment of a harp, c. 2600 BCE. From the cemetery of Ur (modern Muqaiyir), Iraq. Wood inlaid with gold, lapis lazuli, and shell, soundbox height c. 12” (30 cm). British Museum, London (G 43).

Actually 2 lyres. The harp could possibly be the one from the Standard of Ur. Dec. made of blackened silver. Soundbox looks like  standing bull. Found in a ladys grave along with many instruments and attendants. Perhaps attendents drank poisin after celebration and then died. Head made of wood and wooden core. Bullhead could be half man because has a beard. This is an example of applied art. This shows that Sumerians appreciated fine art.



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