Art Through Pre-historic & Ancient Times
Art history was developed in the west and originally dealt exclusively with the European Art History. Progressively as the 20th century moved on, a more wider and inclusive vision of the history of art developed. It is this expanded, wider vision that included societies from all over the world. This version attempts to evaluate artefacts in terms of the cultural values and context in which they were created.
The history of art is recorded and related as a chronology of masterpieces from each civilization. It can be framed as a story of high culture characterized by the wonders of the world. Alternatively, indigenous art expressions can also be integrated into the chronicles of art history, where they may even be referred as the folk arts or craft.
As the art historians engage deeply with these alternative forms of indigenous culture, it is likely that the work they do will be identified as visual culture or material culture. They may also be classified and grouped together with fields related to art history much like anthropology or archaeology. The objects however in the case of archaeology may be then termed as archaeological artefacts.
The history of art goes on to examine the evolution of art through the ages. The prehistoric art pieces found in the Stone Age are probably the first tangible artefacts made by humans. The highlights of the Paleolithic art were the cave paintings. In the Neolithic era, art took on the form of Cardium Pottery adorned with the imprints of seashells in addition to a more evolved form of cave paintings. In the metal ages exploration with the metals like copper, bronze, and iron began to transform the prevalent art forms. Copper age saw the emergence of megaliths. Los Millares culture began to shape up in Spain largely characterized by the Beaker culture featuring human figures with large eyes. Architectural forms with certain characteristics began to develop. The Iron Age saw further evolution and redefinition of architectural structures and polychromic pottery came into existence with geometric patterns and metallic ornaments as adornments. Objects of daily and occasional use continued to be made out of iron and bronze that may be classified as works of art today.
Ancient Mediterranean Art began with the invention of writing as it took on the form of cuneiform script. This script was based on pictographic and ideographic elements which was an initiation for arts in the era. Mesopotamian art was characterized by sculptures developed through wood carving and relief to depict scenes of religion, battlefields or hunts. Ancient Egyptian art comprised of elaborate and complex forms of art that were executed by professional artists and craftsmen. The subjects and inclination of Egyptian art was largely religious and highly symbolic. Painting in this era was characterized by the juxtaposition of overlapping planes and hierarchical representation. In Greece and Etruria the artists took the Egyptian art as the artistic foundation and went on to develop and evolve the arts of sculpture, painting, architecture, and ceramics. The body took on a more representational form and art patronage thrived at this time in history. Roman art is argued to have been a derivation of the Greek art forms, but there are distinctive differentiating features. The sculptures of Roman forms were less idealized than the Greek forms. It was in the Roman culture that the architects used concrete and invented the round arch and dome for the first time.
The ancient histories and pre historic forms of art can be seen evolving quite clearly through a study of the forms, artefacts, and culture of those times. A rich resource of information and studies, art history is a resourceful medium to take a peek into our past.