Art In Ancient Civilizations Art Essay

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The ANCIENT NEART EAST art have beginning in the Neolithic period. In a city named Mesopotamia from the Greek meaning the land in between rivers. Mesopotamia the center for the development of the ancient near east culture extends its borders of the land from Turkey, Syria, Iraq, until Iran.

Votive Statues. C.2900 BC Near Eastern Sumerian

In the Sumerian culture, sculptors made votives statues which today are thought they were used for religious purposes. Because they have their hands clasped together in an attitude of prayers, and open and rounded eyes like if they were praying forever. Some of the features that males showed are highly stylized, they have big staring eyes, their beard was carved in heavy curly (corrugation) and the woolen skirt is flat with a design pattern at the bottom. The most famous male votives stone statue is "Tell Asmar" with his skirt flat, ridged, and with the patterns design. He is also stylized because his body is out of proportion, and cylindrical instead of symmetrical; his shoulders are too wide for his waist, his arms (biceps, and triceps muscles) are out proportion in comparison to his hands, and his feet are too big in relation body. He is naked until the waist probably symbolizing the nobility. He is a representation of the god of vegetation and this is the pattern that he has in his skirt (flowers). Inanna is the most famous female of Sumerian and other cultures. She represented the god of fertilization. These gods where worshipped with the hope that they will bring fertility to the women and crops to the plantation. They were frontal figures which stand flat, frontal and rigid (composite view.)

Stele of Naramsin c. 2254-2218 BC. Near Eastern Sumerian.

In this sculpture which is stylized, it is very clear that, the godlike person or leader is the one with the largest body and the one with horned helmet. He is killing his enemy, who falls, flee and beg for mercy. Also the sculptor carved this sculpture in high relief, portraying the king and soldiers devastating enemies.

Because of the size, horned helmet (denoted divinity), and space between Naramsin and the other figures is easy to determine that this sculpture is stylized. The evidence that showed the stylization is that the helmet looks like part of the head of Naramsin. Also the stars, and the skirt Narasim is wearing are stylized. In this sculpture is very clear that it was carved out with his waist down in profile showing simple frontally and part of the figures; like the two-horned helmet on Naramsin profile head. The soldiers are going following the leader around the mountain. The godlike are stands with left foot forward stepping on his enemies. In this stele you can see the chronological progression of what was happened.


Many years ago, the erudite believed that Egypt was the most ancient civilization and a place that originated many of inventions. Even though in recent investigations change the direction to the land of Mesopotamia.

Palette of Narmer. C. 3000 B.C. Egyptian Old Kingdom

The Palette of king Narmer is one of the most important archeological discoveries. Archeologist believed that the Palette of Narmer was used for ceremonial purpose. The Palette of Narmer was carved out flat, where you can see just part of the figures (composite view) in schist-stone. However the animals (bull) heads were drawn frontal. The figures in the palette were carved in low relief. These bull heads symbolize the early cult to the cow and it also mean vigor of the king. These figures are stylized and you can note it, in the bulls' faces, and in the size of king Narmer. He is the larger in figure in the back part of Palette extending from the bottom to the top also meaning that he is godlike. In Palette of King Narmer, he is executing to enemies justice and you can see the pattern on his skirt (flat, rigid) which look like part of the pharaoh's body. You also can see that this is stylized because his hat look like part of his head, the eyes are round and the tendons look like straight lines. Even though the bird looks naturalistic is stylized because the feathers were carved out in pattern. Underneath of king Narmer are the death enemies which represent the conquered towns.

On the front, at the top part of the palette you can see the pharaoh and his priests standing. There is not scientific perspective because there is no creation three dimensional space that created any illusion. The figures were organized to covered up the space on palette. Also you can see the pharaoh wearing the crown that represents the union of Upper and Lower Egypt. Also the wild animals that represent the union of Upper and Lower Egypt are stylized because they look like a mixture of animal there are not animals with such long neck.

Judgment before Osiris c. 1285. New kingdom

The Egyptians believed that their souls (kha) had to be judged by Osiris and many other gods before they could enter the afterlife. The book of the dead in Egyptian mythology was a text which set out how to overcome the trial of Osiris. Once you have left life on earth. This was used to bury the deceased who had purchased or when his family could buy. In this figure the Last Judgement of Hu-Nefer shows the perfection of the color profiles and the wealth which are the defining characteristics of pictorial events. Even though, they did not use Chiaroscuro because all the pictures look flat without creation of open space.

The Egyptian paintings are stylized because the figures are rigid, flat and aligned in a continuous pattern on the rolls of papyrus. The artist use the classical horizontal, and compositional formula used for millennium in papyrus rolls. Artist painted the last judgment before Osiris in composite viewwhere just part of the profile can be seen.

Section III: Aegean

Aegean civilizations one of the first civilizations in history, flourished at the same time as the Egyptian civilizations. According to archaeological findings developed in the Bronze Age in the Aegean Sea area which is an arm of the Mediterranean. It is lying in between the Hellenic peninsula to the west and Minor Asia to the East. Its southern boundary is the island of Crete. Large Island in the Sea is forming different archipelagoes: the Sporades and Cyclades.

Harvester Vase c. 1650-1450 B.C. Minoan.

The Harvester vase is the finest surviving example of Minoan high relief sculpture. In which you can see that the sculptor worried of the structure of the human body proportion and naturalism anatomy. In this vase you can see the naturalistic in the faces smiling, in the muscles from the arms of the body, and in the ribs. They also represent naturalistic on the muscular and skeletal structure on this Vase. As you can see in this vase the sculptor worried about the faces too. Another important aspect is that "the design fits the form" and this is means that the sculptor carefully carves the vase given the impression that they were going around. Also the sculptor combined profile and frontal views with energy expression feasting.

Octopus Flask. C. 1500-11450 B.C. Minoan.

Another Minoan pottery is the Octopus jar that shows the life in Aegean Sea. The tentacles of the octopus reaching out over the curving surfaces of the vase, shows us that the Minoan sculptor was emphasizing the volume. This figure is also chiaroscuro showing highlights and shadows in order to create an illusion with the octopus' tentacles curving around the surface. Octopus jar in the flask is another example of "the design fit the form" because you can see the tentacles filling the shape perfectly.

Section IV Greek

Greece covered the mountains at south of the Balkan Peninsula, in addition to the Ionian Sea Island off the west, the Aegean Sea to the east to the south bordered by the Mediterranean Sea. Then both land as today were a rough area. In its town could see the breeds of sheep and goats. Also it had deposits of silver, copper, zinc and lead. In the mountains could get the best quality marble.

Korous c. 600 B.C. Greek. Archaic.

The Greek art evolved from the simplicity of its early times to a more and complex naturalistic. Kourous is one of the earliest life size statue made by Greek in marble. The Kourous are from archaic period and in this sculpture you can see on his head that he is stylized. The head, the hair, and the flatness of the face formed a triangular shape. The hair was engraved in pattern as backdrops, the eyes are huge and rounded, and his shoulders were too wide for his slim waist.

However, as you probably noted the Korous is out of proportion his arms are too large in relation to the whole body. On rib cage is an arch shape forming a v-shape, it suggest but not well reproduce the flesh and muscle of the human body. You also can note that Korous is standing in rigidly frontal posture; with the left foot slight forward but his knees have not bending.

Polykleitos Doryphoros ca. 450-440 BC Greek Classical

In the early classical period the sculptors broke away the early archaic the rigid and unusual pose of archaic Korous. The author that created the finest statue (Doryphoros) was Polykleitos. He created Doryphoros a statue that according to him was the perfect model for Roman Athletes. It possesses the idealistic body, his body proportion are very idealize, so they are beyond naturalistic, in other words the perfect body. Doryphors is standing in contrapposto which gave him a beautiful, to perfect sense of human in motion. The pose is perfect the hip is twisted to the left and the position of the arms and fingers are simply perfect.

Polykleitos on his statues (Doryphoros) summarize the progression and technical development cultivated in classical Greek art, which is characterized by its internal consistency and its radical search for beauty, which is high in proportion and harmony.

Praxiteles. Hermes and Dionysos. 4th century B.C. Greek. Classical

The master Praxiteles was probably one of the greatest sculptors of the four century BCE. He did not reject the common themes of the god and goddesses of the classical period. Instead he was more morbid. Even though his sculptures sustain the same beauty and perfection, he added a little more sensuousness. Hermes and infant Dionysos was one of the sculpture made by Praxiteles. It is easy to see is stand in contrapposto in the way is posing, the hips twisted to right and all the body weight resting on right foot. This statue is idealized because of it body proportion seems to be perfect, and neat. You can even see the muscles and the tendons reacting to the pose that he had. Although Hermes and Dionysos were goddess according to the mythology they loss their solemnity when the master sculpted them nude.

Section V ROMAN

Rome legacy are from the Etruscans in the north and from the Greek in the south that form its architecture. The Etruscans, and Greeks, also offered a vast contribution to religion and art. Romans developed their techniques and materials in order to find high level of resistances, economic sustainability, and solidity.

Pantheon, Rome Italy, 118-125 CE

The Pantheon, according to the scholars is the most well preserved temple from the ancient Rome. The Pantheon was made by Marcus Agrippa and his name look engraved outside. After been burned the temple was repaired and reconstructed by Hadrian, the emperor at that time and dedicated for all the gods. In frontal part of the Pantheon you can find the well ornamented Corinthian columns. They were posted in front of the porch in a colonnade order like (post-and-lintel) to sustain the pediment. The architect made up a longitudinal plan for this architecture. The dome was poured from concrete in certain way that it got thinner and thinner in order to sustain itself and not collapse. They made a coffer pattern in order to make the dome lightweight. Also they lived an open hole at the top (oculus) of the dome which is the only source of light.

Augustus as a general, from Primaporta, Italy 20 BC

When you look through this statue you can easily see the classical Greek statue modeling. Augustus is a highly idealized statue. The body proportions are beyond perfection and he is standing in contrapposto which gave him a sense of a perfect human characteristic. Also, right arm up denoting the veins, muscles, the fingers and face denote a sense of idealisms. In the toga you can see it fall with softness. The sculpture of Augustus declared that he was the Roman emperor. Because of the form of his hand, the cloth and the body proportion that he had. It is really beautiful see how the Roman art refined itself and how the sculptor made a replicate of Augustus using the classical Greek personages.

Dionysiac Mystery Frieze 60-50 BC.

In this picture it is easy to see the idealistic body of each of the personage. The falling cloths and the scene itself is sort of naturalism. Where the sculptor created open space between each of personage. Also the sculptor used chiaroscuro (highlights and shadows) to created an illusion of a three dimensional form. The painting across the wall corresponds to the central painting where if you go around the figure you can see it follow a pattern. This is also how the sculptor was trying to organize the tridimensional space in the wall. In this picture you can see a mythological scene because of angle. Which is a idealize women with a beautiful wings.


In the period of Early Christian there are not too many recorded arts because the early Christian were persecuted and killed by the Romans. The early Christian meets together hiding because it was against the law to be a Christian and worshiped their monotheism God.

Good Shepherd. C. 425-26 Mausoleum of Galla Placidia. Early Christian.

In the Mausoleum of Galla Placida there are incredible decorated walls with mosaics which were confined to the floor in the beginning but the artist used to decorate the walls. Christ as the Good Shepherd is one of the example.

Christ as the Good shepherd appears in the center as a pastor in the middle of his sheep. He is stylized because his body is out of proportion. His arms are too long in relation to his body and legs are too small, his face and his head are too small in relation to the body.

Also another stylized characteristic is the panorama. The grass, and the vegetation, are flat even thought the rock are in three dimensional. The sheep are stylized. He tries to made scientific perspective with the highlight and shadow sky but it look flat.

Sarcophagus of Junius Bassus. c. 359. Early Christian.

In the Sarcophagus of Junius Bassus the sculptor were carved out high relief and not in low relief. He also carved up all genetic faces for all the personages. Even though they are stylized the togas look nice and smooth in each of the personages. The little figurines are standing in contraposto. The sculptor made different alternating scenes covering scenes from the Old and New Testament, you can see Paul the Apostle with even rolls teaching, Daniel and lions, Jesus in the over donkey going to Jerusalem, Adam and Eve covering after they sins, and Abraham sacrificing his son Isaac. The sculptor decorated each alternating scene with post and lintel, garble pediment, arches and with a combination of columns. In this Sarcophagus you can see the change from Roman paganism to the Early Christianity; which are basically the same Roman styles because the sculptors were same.


In the period of the governor Constantine took place the early byzantine art. He established the Christianity as the official religion of the Roman State. Constantine moved the city to Constantinople which becomes the center of byzantine art. Byzantine art was most concentrated mostly to the Christianity and adepts.

Archangel Michael (diptych Panel) Early 6th century. Early Byzantine.

Archangel Michael was carved out in high relief in the diptych panel. It is for sure that the author did not have a sense of scientific perspective. Archangel Michael is certainly stylized because the head look too small for the rest of the body; the neck is too broad for the head. Also he is stylized because the right hand is coming through the column; his feet are too big for the stairs. Even though, his cloth and the body under look naturalistic. The wings are nicely carved out.

Emperor Justinian and His Attendants. c. 547. Early Byzantine.

The emperor Justinian appears with his twelve attendants and for the first time in history was presented the union of the church and the state. In this mosaic work is presented Justinian stand in the middle with his purple cloths and in front like a leader. In left hand side is the bishop which represents the power of the church. In his right hand side are the delegates which represent the power of the government. You can see in mosaic work that Justinian was controlling the church and the state.

Justinian and his attendants are stylized because they all possessed the same genetic faces. Also they all are out of proportion; their bodies are too long in relation to their feet and heads.

You can appreciate that the artist not even tries to imitate the pagan roman style. All the figures are flat, rigid and frontal. The artist created some highlights and shadows but he could not achieve the scientific perspective. He did not leave any open space.

Section VIII Colingian and Ottonian

Compare and contrast the following: Psalm 43. Utrecht Psalter. Second quarter of 9th century. Caorlingian. vs Pager with Mathew the Evangelist. Ebbo Gospels. Late 9th century Carolingian.

In these pictures you can see the innovation in the art that happen in a period where people from many places immigrate to the Roman empire dating 816- 835 AD; when the monks in the monasteries dedicate to translate and interpret bible by drawing anecdotal stories. In Psalm 44, Utrecht Psalter you can see God the father sleeping and the angle surrounding him. The enemies placed it, planning against Israelites. In Utrecht Psalter picture you also can see enemies waiting outside the wall of a city to kill the Israelites "like sheep for the slaughter". Both pictures are stylized they have a sense of motion and animation. You can see that in Utrecht Psalter the artist was expressing literally the story. In the other hand, you can see that artist make even the cloth to be energetic. You can see both pictures are stylized and you can note in the Utrecht Psalter, all the figures were created to animate and emulate (imitate) certain characters of the Psalm of King David. Saint Matthew in the Ebbo Gospel is stylized because the face, hair, the mountains are unrealistic is more like energetic. The hair looks like the mountain grass. The author was trying to created open space but he just probably did not know how to. Also he did not know how to created scientific perspective because the figure look flat even though the author was trying to painted a Basilica behind to make look like depth. It simple did not work because it looks like flat and illusionism disappeared.

Section IX: Romanesque and Gothic

Discuss Romanesque and Gothic portal decoration and how they differ in basic characteristics. Romanesque or "Roman like" is a term first used by an architect and historian in the 19th century referring to the European of Architecture of 11th and 12th century.

In the Romanesque and the gothic portals you can easily determine the following features; the tympanum in front of the portal with a semicircular shape, the tympanums were commonly decorated with scenes of the Old or New Testament during the Romanesque and later in the Gothic period, the Voussoirs, the wedge-shaped block used to frame the tympanum forming an Archivolts, the lintel which is the horizontal beam holding the structure above the doors, the Jambs in the sides of the post and finally the Trumeau in the center of the post bring support the lintel in the middle of the door way.

Now, how the Romanesque and the Gothic portal do differs each other. The Gothic period was after the Romanesque so you can find the differences in the between the Gothic and Romanesque in the already mention features. There are more archivolts in the Gothic than in the Romanesque. This innovation gave the opportunity to sculptors to carve out their Gothic sculptures deep in relation to Romanesque. Since the Romanesque the sculptor did not have too much space because the archivolts were carved out less deep the sculptures were also flatter than the Gothic. So the Gothic portal differs in Archivolt, the tympanum, the trumeau and the jambs. In the Gothic period the sculptor carved out and decorated the Voussoirs with biblical human images which in Romanesque it was carved out with a pattern design. Also the jambs in the gothic were decorated with biblical human sculpture.

Choose any one cathedral of your choice from each period (Romanesque and Gothic). Identify each accurately and thoroughly (according to the schema). Be sure to specify where the portal is located on the church (west portal? South portal? etc). Explain and described the theme and the style. Include thee tympanum and the jamb figures (if any). Use the proper terms when describing the architectural elements. Refer terms when describing the architectural elements. Refer to your diagram of portals for clarity and the terms.

Saint-Pierre, Moissac, France, ca. 1115-1135 Romanesque.

The portal Saint-Pierre, Moissac Romanesque is located in the south. In its tympanum you can find Jesus seated on his thrown as a judge and as a king. You can see that the sculptor carved out Jesus Christ as typically in the byzantine art, he is in the middle surround by the four evangelists and by 24 elders in this case. You can also see that because the sculptures were posted with just two rows of voussoirs (wedge block) forming two archivolts. Jesus Christ is in the center look flat and he was carved out in high relief. The sculpture is stylized because of the form the artist organized the proportion which is must like the Egyptian art (the pharaoh in the center was the larger figure). There is not open space and there is not scientific perspective because the sculptor did not use high and low relief to created illusionism.

In the south portal of Saint-Pierre, Moissac, you can also see in the left and right hand side sculptures in each jamb which recalls for Saint Peter and Isaiah. Saint Peter is holding the keys and Isaiah scroll. They are both stylized, high relief, frontal, their clothes look flat and linear and they are standing in composite view.

In the trumeau you can see you can appreciate some type of lion or dogs pile up at the frontal part of trumeau; they are stylized the hair is sort of linear pattern. At the right hand side is probably Jeremiah or Isaiah as many scholars believe. The reality is that either one he may be, he is stylized his bear have sort of linear pattern; his body is out of proportion he has long leg in comparison with rest of his body. He is like holding a scroll but the scroll look like part of his cloth. He is also standing in composite view and closed. The architecture of Saint-Pierre, Moissac, church was base on a longitudinal plant. Also you can see in the longitudinal plan the groin vaults in form of (x) and after each groin vault is barrel vault which gave support to the ceiling. When the Romanesque discovered of the groin vault, it allow a more ample space than if they were using the barrel vault. Also introducing the groin vault allows constructing the temples to be higher allowing space for clerestory later in the gothic.

West façade of Reims Cathedral, Reims, France ca. 1225-1290.

The portal Reims Cathedral is located in the west. In this cathedral you can see that sculptor place a stain window in the tympanum. This is a highly Gothic Cathedral. The whole façade had being change in this cathedral in comparison with the Romanesque; the voussoirs were correctly carved out with human (or saints) that conduct to Jesus Christ in the center of the Archivolts. Above the archivolts is Mary being crowned as a Queen by Jesus. In this sculpture you can see that they are having motion and that they are really see being crowned. You also can see that the cloth of Mary and Jesus are naturalistic you can even see their knees. Even though their faces and their body proportion are stylized, the head is too big for the body proportion and the angels around them are smaller than Jesus and Mary. The sculptor uses a sense of triangle for poses and the size of the body. Also he carved out the sculpture of Jesus and Mary on high relief and open. On the jambs of this cathedral you can easily noted that the sculptor carved sculptures to fit in the engage column. In addition these sculptures of Mary visiting Elizabeth are standing in contrapposto twisting the hip and covering basically the column by sculpture itself. The scholar believed that they were made by other school and Mary angel Gabriel were made by another school because of the cloth and other characteristics differ. When Mary is talking with Elizabeth she is totally different standing in contrapposto, she did not cloth which when she was talking with Elizabeth is more energetic. When Mary is talking with the angel Gabriel he is standing slightly in contraposto, holding his drapery. The differences in sculptures show that they were carved by different sculptors using different styles. In trumeau of the post and lintel in the frontal of the west portal is the virgin caring the Christ the child. She is standing in contrapposto with her hip twisting to balance the weight of Jesus. She is also wearing a crown and her cloth fall with sort like a queen.

There are other episodes represented in west portal of Reims Cathedral; on the left hand side above the archivolt is representing the crucifixion and in the right hand side is represented baptism Christ. The entire figures were carved out in high relief using the classical style.

The Reims Cathedral possessed a high elevation towels commonly in the Gothic period. This cathedral was constructed using a longitudinal plan where you can see the towels, the lateral doorways, and the main entrance conducting to the nave which is wide because of the used of groin and vault and the barrel vault. Also from the longitudinal plan you can see the aisles, the choir, ambulatory and the chapels. In this church when you are inside is magnificent how do they decorate elongate the stain glass window. This is another different that the gothic period also has in comparison to the Romanesque and is that they created longer windows. The Gothic cathedral architectural component consisted of following according to the scholars: pinnacle, buttress, vaulting web, diagonal ribs, transverse rib, springing, clerestory, oculus, lancet, triforium, nave arcade, compound pier, with responds.


Identify and discuss the Following monuments:

Nicola Pisano. Nativity. Pisa pulpit. 1260. Late Gothic. Italy.

The Nativity was sculpted by Nicola Pisano in a panel of baptistery pulpit ("raised platforms from which the priests lead church services.") In the Nativity you can see the annunciation of Jesus Christ born by angel Gabriel, the nativity (after Jesus Christ born the angels annunciation that king had being born and the pastors' visitation). In the Nativity of Pisano, you can see the classical features used in the Roman sculptures. Noted the way he carved beard Joseph, the coiffures and the cloths and if you can go back to Rome the Sarcophagus of Junius Bassus, from ca. 359 you can really see that he is using the same technique and relief. You can see that this sculpture is stylized because their bodies are out of proportion their head is too big for their body. Even though they are stylized you can see the knee of Joseph and Mary and also you can see the human expression of Mary when the angel annunciated the Christ news. Pisano did not leave any open space and he made an illusion fall away with the basilica behind the angel. Ambrogio Lorenzetti.

Allegory of Good Government in the City and in the Country. 1338-40. Late Gothic. Italy

Ambrogio Lorenzetti was one of the painters who were delegate to paint the fresco in the Siena's Palazzo Pubblico. In the Palazzo Pubblico, he paints Effect of a Good Government in the City and in the Country. In this paint you can see in the panorama of the peaceful and functioning country when every single one is working. In the Effect of a Good Government in the City and in the Country you can see the people working on streets, the towers and factory of Siena. The building covering and the highlight and shadows created an illusionistic view in the panorama of the city. In the countryside you can see also everyone is working and functioning too. The only thing that did not used to show the illusion in the countryside is that he did not show haze around the mountain. Even though he used highlight and shadows in the mountain.


Giotto is said to have romanized the Greek style of Cimabue. Discuss and describe this statement using the Enthroned Madonna by each artist. Identify each painting according to the schema before beginning your analysis.

Cimabue, Madonna Enthroned, Santa Trinita, Florence, Italy ca. 1280-1290

the archaic expression that Giotto Romanized the Greek style of Cimabue, it is mean that he improved. However, Cimabue innovation broke too the traditional byzantine style. Although Cimabue, Madonna Enthroned with the Angels and Prophets used many characteristic from the byzantine art. For example he used the same generic faces for all the Angels. Also, the Angels are looking frontal which is typically from the byzantine art. The Virgin Mary is using the same purple toga commonly used by the Constantine the emperor. The innovation, you can see it when Cimabue used 3-dimension for the Virgin, the Prophets and the angels cloths. However if you see the feet of the angels in the front part of the throne you will probably recognized as part of the Byzantine art. There is not doubt that that Virgin and the Angels faces are stylized, because they are genetic and the face of the virgin look like a geometrical. Even though you see that Cimabue created a deep space in the throne for the virgin, you can also see that he probably did not how post the prophet in front.

Giotto di Bondone, Madonna Enthroned Florence, Italy, ca. 1310

On the other hand in Giotto Di Bondone, Madonna Enthrone you can see that he create a deep space in the stairs and in the throne. Also you can see a sense of naturalism in the face of Virgin and her breads that Giotto paints. Giotto carefully paints the faces of the angel and gave certain qualities. For example he used chiaroscuro in the flower that the angels were holding in the front. He also paints different coiffures to the angels using with different hair holder. The focal point of view is toward to Mary and Jesus the baby. With this style and the dimensionality, you can see the improvement from the Cimabue to Giotto Madonna Enthroned.