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Ancient Art Essays

Ancient Art

The origins of art go back to antiquity. Numerous works of fine adeptness such as rock paintings, statuettes of stone and bones, ornamental patterns on pieces of deer antlers and stone slabs appeared much earlier than a conscious idea of artistic creation. The first works of adeptness amaze with the unique freshness of perception, brightness, and power of expression and are so vital that they retain their artistic significance to the present day.

Stone Age Art (From c.2,500,000 BCE)

Paleolithic Art (c.2,500,000 – 10,000 BCE)

The first works of primitive adeptness were created about thirty thousand years ago, at the end of the Paleolithic era. The most ancient sculptural images to date are “Paleolithic Venus” – primitive female figures. They are still very far from real resemblance to the human body. Primitive sculptors were not interested in even facial features. Their task was not to reproduce a specific nature but to create a generalized image of a woman mother, a symbol of fertility and the keeper of the hearth. Almost the entire Paleolithic sculpture is made of stone or bone.

Mesolithic Art (c.10,000-4,000 BCE)

During the Mesolithic Age, the climatic conditions on the planet changed. Fishing began to develop. People created new types of tools, weapons (bow and arrow), tamed the dog. All these changes, of course, had an impact on the consciousness of the primitive human, which was reflected in art. This is evidenced by cave paintings in the coastal mountain regions of Eastern Spain. Previously, the focus of the ancient artist was the animals he hunted but in this period there were figures of people depicted in the impetuous movement. The central place in the rock painting was occupied by hunting scenes.  Hunters and animals were connected by an energetically unfolding action.

Neolithic Art (c.4000–2000 BCE)

The advent of this era can be traced in the Near and Middle Asia, in Europe and in India. The process of production, and with it the spiritual life, is so complicated that the development of the culture of individual regions begins to take different paths. If it has been possible to consider the development of adeptness as universal, typical for different regions of the globe, one can now see local features in the adeptness that make it possible to distinguish between Neolithic Egypt, Neolithic Mesopotamia, and Neolithic Europe. But there is also a common feature for Neolithic adeptness such as widespread use of small plastic from stone, bones, horns, clay. The development of decorative adeptness is especially characteristic of the Neolithic. Almost everywhere it is possible to see the desire to decorate things that are in everyday use.

Bronze Age Art (c.3000-1200 BCE)

Art is becoming more diverse and spreading from the Middle East through the vast territory of the Eurasian steppes, the Caucasus, Siberia, the Far East, the European North. The most significant types of epochal art are:

  • ceramics;
  • sculpture;
  • ornament and symbolism;
  • the artistic design of various items made of metal, bone, wood;
  • megalithic architecture.

The main trends in the adeptness of painting were anthropomorphic and zoomorphic (the representation of gods in the image of man or animal) sculpture, objects of everyday use made of stone, clay, wood, bronze and bone, as well as monuments of megalithic architecture, which until today are of great interest to scientists and archaeologists.

Egyptian Art (from 3100 BCE)

Egyptian civilization was the creator of:

  • magnificent monumental stone architecture;
  • fine products of craft;
  • a sculptural portrait, remarkable for its realistic truthfulness.

The main features of the art of ancient Egypt are:

  • Monumentality of stone architecture;
  • Realism and truthfulness of sculptural portraits are combined with generalization and stylization;
  • Fidelity to traditions in adeptness and observance of canons. The reason for this was that the monuments of the art of Ancient Egypt in its overwhelming majority had a religious purpose. Therefore, the creators of these monuments were obliged to follow the established canons;
  • Canonization of the simplest methods of an image. This was due to the fact that the religious views of the Egyptians attributed the sacred meaning to the artistic appearance of the ancient monuments of Egyptian art;
  • The image of objects and animals that are invisible to the viewer or the artist, but which definitely can be present in this scene;
  • The image of the object with the help of a schematic enumeration of its parts;
  • A combination in the same scene of images of objects made in different angles.

Minoan Art (c.1600 BCE)

Minoan adeptness is the most joyful and radiant of all the ancient arts. An important artistic convention, introduced by the Minoans, was the depiction of animals galloping. The Minoans also used static patterns such as zigzags, cross-hatching and other linear means known from Middle Eastern painted ceramics. Bright, saturated colors were used in Minoan art not only in frescoes, but also in architecture, and on ceramics made on a potter’s wheel.

Minoans often painted men in red and women in yellow, and it was not occasionally. Following the widespread custom in ancient times, the Minoan men, for ceremonial purposes, painted their bodies in red, and the women tinted with yellow paint. In addition, the Minoans produced extremely diverse ceramic products. There were seals, stone vessels, metal implements and jewelry, thus continuing the indigenous craft traditions that preceded the flourishing of the Minoan civilization.

Iron Age Art (c.1500-200 BCE)

During this period, mankind learned to extract a more solid material. It was iron that replaced stone and bronze tools. Advanced iron tools, developing processing of metals, turning into an adeptness craft, raising the general level of material and, at the same time, spiritual production gave impetus to the emergence of civilization.

Mycenaean Art (c.1400-1000 BCE)

The remains of architectural monuments, wall paintings, vases, sculptures show the “spirit” of Mycenaean culture best. Each work of adeptness and architecture has the same features, which are the specific features of the art and architecture of Achaean Greece, including structural clarity, the proportionality of a part and the whole, stability, graphic clarity and closedness of a contour or plastic volume.

Celtic Art (c.500 BCE – c.17 CE)

The most influential and famous period in Celtic art is the Island one (Ireland and Great Britain in the Early Middle Ages). Celtic adeptness is absolutely decorative. Ornaments are present almost everywhere; on the surface of home and ritual utensils, on weapons and jewelry.

There are typical features of Celtic art.

  • Stylized and fantastic forms of plants, animals, but without any imitation of the natural forms of plant and animal life;
  • The use of symmetry in rare cases, often involving complex symbols;
  • Intricate lines, densely strung spirals, bulges, decorative inscriptions.

Classical Greek Art (500-323 BCE)

The classical period entered the history of Greece as one of the most important because at that time the Greeks won the war over the Persians and were able to defend the right to develop their unique European culture. The most important feature of the development of early classical adeptness was the search for ways of realistic mapping of human nature. At the same time, in all the works of the ancient Greek creators of this era, there is an amazing striving for harmony and proportionality, rigor and orderliness. At the same time, the synthesis of cultures is becoming urgent. For example, architectural trends continue to develop in a harmonious relationship with sculpture, vase painting with monumental painting and so on.

Hellenism (323-31 BCE)

The development of Hellenistic art falls at the time of the formation of Hellenistic monarchies and the spread of Greek culture in the vast territories of the Near and Middle East after the conquests of Alexander the Great. It is possible to single out the Hellenistic adeptness of Greece itself. It coexists with art, formed on lands closely associated with ancient Greek culture (the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea); and the art of Ancient Egypt, in which Greek and Egyptian traditions coexisted. In Hellenistic art, rationalism and expressiveness, skepticism and emotionality, elegance and deep drama, archaization and innovation combine.

Art of Ancient Rome (c.200 BCE – 400 CE)

General characteristics of ancient Roman art are:

  • lack of originality,
  • propagandistic nature,
  • practical, specific orientation,
  • a sense of reality and interest in the human person.

Gradually, the image of a man who lost his ethical ideal in life itself lost the harmony of the physical and spiritual principle, characteristic of the ancient world. New tendencies in Roman progressive adeptness appear with the emergence of Christianity, especially under emperor Constantine, during the reign of which the persecution of Christianity ceases. For political reasons, he moved the capital from Rome to Byzantium in 330, founded the city of Constantinople. So, once the great city of Rome, the capital of the ancient world, has turned only into the provincial center of the powerful Byzantium that was being born.

This concludes the history of the ancient world, but its culture does not disappear: it organically intertwines in the culture of the Middle Ages, which will create its own fundamentally different artistic language, born of a fundamentally new worldview and philosophy.

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