Ralph Larmann

Art Department

University of Evansville

back to: introduction

Venus of Willendorf
Paleolithic Europe
relief stone carving
30,000-15,000 B.C.

Lascaux Cave Paintings
Paleolithic Europe
cave painting
30,000-15,000 B.C.

Neolithic England
@ 8,000 B.C.

Chapter 1: The Beginnings of Art

-Paleolithic-40,000-10,000 BC
-Mesolithic-10,000-8000 BC
-Neolithic-8000-3000 BC

Paleolithic art
-First signs of Man appeared in Africa @ 2 million years ago. Tool use @1 million. Earliest examples of Western art appeared as glaciers retreated.

-Venus of Willendorf-carved limestone, c. 30,000-15,000 BC. Because of the importance of fertility, (infant mortality rates were high making it a necessity to have many children for survival) probably a fertility symbol. Done in the round versus in relief.

Cave Art (Lascaux)
-murals at Lascaux. Normally, Paleolithic man did not portray humans in painting. Most are animals. Based on observation. Probably done by blowing pigment through a pipe.

Pigment -ground color used with a vehicle or binder on a support.

Cave art often uses the contours of the cave to define the form of the animal. Leon Battista Alberti, an Italian Renaissance aesthetician, believed that man first created images through association. The surface of the wall may have inferred the shape then the artist would "perfect" an image. The works at Lascaux seem to confirm Alberti's "image by accident" theory.

Mesolithic period
-Marked by a series of migrations with a movement toward agriculture and fishing. More interest in agriculture and more permanent communities.

Neolithic art

-possibly used for astronomical observations or rituals. It is the earliest example of public art in N. Europe.

-menhirs-(long) single unhewn or slightly sculpted
-dolmens-(table) two or more verticals with a horizontal
-cromlechs-(circle) menhirs in a circle or semi-circle
(words taken from Celtic language)

Post and Lintel Construction
-two upright columns and one lintel cross-piece. Basic construction method from which other methods grew.

plastered skull
Neolithic Jericho
@ 8,000 B.C.

The Ancient Near East in the Neolithic Era (c. 7000-4500/4000 BC)
-transition from a hunter/gatherer society to an agrarian society.

-Oldest known city-8500-7500 BC. Jericho skulls had replications of the deceased sculpted onto the skull. Ancestor-worship. residents of Jericho buried dead family members under floor of household.

Ain Ghazal
-A ceramic Neolithic site in Jordan. plastered skulls are also found here.

Catal Huyuk
-Deliberate city planning took place here. There were rooftop walkways/no streets. Preliterate society (no known language).

Palette of Narmer
Ancient Egypt
sculptural object
@ 3,000 B.C.

Pyramid of Zoser, by Imhotep
Ancient Egyptian
limestone architecture
2750 B.C.

Great Pyramids at Giza
Ancient Egyptian
limestone architecture
2570-2530 B.C.

Judgement before Osiris
Ancient Egyptian
painted papyrus
1285 B.C.

Bust of Nefertiti
Ancient Egyptian
painted limestone
1360 B.C.

-Lasted about 2500 years, longer than the time from Christ's birth to today.
-began about 3000 BC when Narmer united Upper and Lower Egypt.
-Old Kingdom-2700-2100 BC
-Middle Kingdom-2100-1700 BC
-New Kingdom-1600-1000 BC
-525 BC Persians conquered Egypt, 332 BC Alexander the Great

Palette of Narmer- ritual object, c. 2700 BC, slate
-Egyptian artistic conventions use a hierarchical order. either side or frontal views are used in Egyptian style for simplification and a "readable" orderly style.
-Narmer is in the center of the palette, and is largest figure.

Sculpture and Painting
-adhered to rigid sculptural conventions or canons (rules). These rules, like the laws of Egypt had to be carefully followed by artists.

-hieroglyphics-picture writing that is not as abstract as cuneiform.

-Egyptians believed in polytheism (many gods).
-Death and the preparation for death was an integral part of Egyptian life. Objects and images of the dead person were put in the tomb so the ka (soul), of the person could enter into it. Proper embalming was essential. The jackal-headed god, Anibus was the embalmer of the dead. It was his duty to take the heart of the deceased and weigh it against the Feather of Truth before Osiris, god of the Underworld, and 42 other gods. If the heart was lighter than the Feather of Truth, the ka entered into a contented afterlife.

Monumental Architecture
Mastabas were early pyramids. They were underground burial areas that reflected the importance of life after death in Egyptian religion.

King Zoser's Pyramid was the earliest known pyramid. It used a stepped structure and was designed by Imhotep. Imhotep is the first individual artist recognized for a piece of art or architecture that we have seen. The complex included a running area so that the pharoah could prove his worth during the Sed festival.

The Great Pyramids at Giza- 2570-2530 BC, limestone
-located on the east side of the Nile.
-four sides correlate to the four compass points.
-interiors had a number of different chambers, some false
-also at Giza was the Great Sphinx, half human/half animal

Temple of Queen Hatshepsut- 1480 BC, Sandstone and rock
-Built right into the solid rock. One of 3 major queens, she initiated reforms and large scale building projects in Egypt. She was the first to assert the re-establishment of Egypt's greatness. Her successor Thutmose II saw her as a spendthrift who funneled money away from the military.

Bust of Nefertiti- 1360 BC, painted limestone
-done in Akhenaten's Style (more naturalistic). It reflected the reign of Akhenaten who made massive changes in religion and society. Akhenaten (formerly Amenhotep IV) was a religious zealot who changed the social order and religion of Egypt. King Tutankhamen's grandfather.

Stele of Hammurabi
relief stone carving
1760 B.C., Sumerian

Bull Capital from Persepolis
c. 400 BC


Sumerian Culture
-was located between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers (modern-day Iraq). During this period there was a move toward urbanization. Metals and wheel pottery are found during this period. They observed a three-season cycle that consisted of flood, planting, and harvest. There was little fortification possible in this area because the land is so flat.
-Ziggurats-Early form of pyramid. The central focus of the ziggurat was called the cella, a place for religious ceremony, civic meetings, musical celebrations, etc. They were load bearing construction made of clay bricks and may have been used as fortifications in times of war. Inside were cylinder seals. An example of Glyptic art (in intaglio-incised)
-Cuneiform-earliest known writing in stone or clay tablets. Story of Gilgamesh, heroic figure of Mesopotamia, was recorded in cuneiform.
-A replicate of aLyre soundbox with lapis lazuli carvings was made. Such a piece would have come from the city of Ur around 2500 BC.

Babylonian civilization (c. 1900-539 BC)
-Stele of Hammurabi-earliest known written laws to protect the weak from the stronger. His laws generally protected landowners only and were not intended for general use among the entire population.
-Ishtar Gate and the Hanging Gardens were built in Babylon (modern day Baghdad) and would have been imposing structures in their time.

Assyrian civilization (c. 1100-612 BC)
-Dying Lion-limestone from the Palace of Sargon II, 720 BC. Assyrians were well known for being a great military force. Depictions such as the Lion Hunt would have helped to prepare a visitor for his audience with the King.

Persia (539-331 BC)
-Persepolis-"city of the Persians" built by Darius the Great, covered 6 acres. The Persians were defeated by Alexander the Great in 331 BC. The Athenian Greeks defeated Xerxes, son of Darius, at the Battle of Salamis, to end Persian political influence. This defeat made all of Greece indebted to Athens and catapulted it to prominence in the ancient world.
-One notable piece of wall art is a depiction of the "Immortals," an elite group who defended the King and led the Persian Army.

Toreador fresco
1600-1400 B.C.

Mask of Agamemnon
golden death mask
1350 B.C.
An example of repousee. A process that involves hammering metal.

Minoan Civilization
-3000-1500 BC
-on island of Crete, halfway between Egypt and Greece in Mediterranean
-found by Sir Arthur Evans, who consulted myths to find it and Troy
-written language called Linear A, has not been deciphered, a later version called Linear B is associated with Early Greek language.

Palace of Minos, Crete, 1600-1400 BC
-place associated with the idea of a labyrinth. Probably the source of myths relating to the Labyrinth.

Myth of the Minotaur- from Greek mythology, half man/half bull who lived at the center of the Labyrinth.

Minoan Fresco-believed to be buon fresco (painting on fresh plaster). The Toreador fresco is an excellent example of the flowing line that exemplified Minoan art.

Mycenean Civilization
-1600-1300 BC, home of Agamemnon-conqueror of Troy
-used the Trojan Horse to enter Troy and defeat Trojans to rescue Helen

-Citadels-had a number of rooms, one large one called a megaron

Next study guide: Chapter 2

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