Ancient Cultures



Course Instructor


Ancient Cultures


There have been numerous changes in the conventions for representing the human figure in prehistoric and ancient art. In the republican time, human face was represented using faces with wrinkles showing signs of aging. One such art was the “portrait head of an Elder,” which was made in 80BCE and had wrinkles all over the face. This was a change from previous art where the ancestors we represented using masks. Another changed portrayal of human was the Seated scribe, which was made between 2450 and 2325 BCE in Egypt. This portrait was a depiction of the sedentary way of life by scribes, which results in flabby appearance (royal-athena galleries Web).

The portrait head of an elder that showed respect for the elderly who were considered wise, the Seated scribe demonstrated effects of sedentary life. Standing Buddha was a depiction of the effects of intermixing between Greek and Buddhist. As opposed to previous Buddhist, art, which was, represented Buddha as stupa, Bodhi tree, wheel, empty seat, and footprints. Generally, the “portrait head of an Elder” Standing Buddha and Seated Scribe demonstrated increased sophistication in art (royal-athena galleries Web).

Since prehistoric times, human make use of art to represent their culture. A good example is the Great Stupa at the Sanchi is one of the finest arts demonstrating the culture of the Mauryan Empire. The gateways to this monument are carved finely to depict Buddhist legends and lifestyle the teachings of Buddhist are inscribed on the 85,000 stupas. The gateways demonstrate tales of Buddha’s incarnations. Additionally, the inscriptions regarding the Buddha’s teachings, his life, sermons, and moment of enlightenment are inscribed (royal-athena galleries Web).

The pyramids of Giza are considered the most popular monuments depicting the Egyptian civilization, which was one of richest civilization in the world. The pyramid depicts the great influence of the pharaohs particularly in the ancient Egyptian society. The pyramids, which comprise of massive stone structures, were constructed about 4500 years ago. The pyramids of Giza are located on a desert plateau near Memphis. They were built in honor of the dynasty kings who included Khufu, Menkaure, and Khafre. Like the paleolithic art, which included burial sites, the Giza pyramids included a mortuary temple where the Egyptians conducted burial rituals for the kings (Newby and Leader-Newby 115-120).

The pyramids of Giza, which are among the Seven Wonders of the World, are considered engineering wonders even today. Additionally, the pyramids are considered some of the oldest examples of human architecture. They demonstrate the culture of the Egyptians living at the period of their construction. The pharaohs were supposed to maintain cosmic balance and the pyramid demonstrate that stability. It was through the pyramids that the powers of the gods flowed to the pharaohs. The strength of the pyramids was symbolic of the power of the Egyptian gods while the underway water tunnels were a symbol of the flow of spiritual strength amongst the Egyptians (royal-athena galleries; Newby and Leader-Newby 112-118).

The Parthenon is a temple built by the Athenians and depicts the Greek civilization. Persians destroyed the temple in 480 BC while still under construction. The foundation was built using Limestone while columns were constructed using Pentelic marble. The temple was constructed from 447 to 432 BCE. It symbolizes the architecture of the ancient Acropolis. The architects who designed it were Iktinos and Kallikrates. The temple was dedicated to goddess Athena Pallas. The temple was constructed to shelter Athena, statue that was made of gold and ivory (Newby and Leader-Newby 200-208).

The above arts were constructed by the public and were depictive of their way of life, particularly their religious lives. They were constructed using natural materials and dedicated to the kings. The art was similar to paleolithic artifacts that demonstrated the way of life of the early man (Royal-athena galleries Web).


Works Cited

Newby, Zahra and Ruth Leader-Newby. Art and Inscriptions in the Ancient World. London: Cambridge University Press, 2006. Print.

Royal-athena galleries. Art of the Ancient World. 2007. 20 Oct 2012.



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