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The Origins of Western Art: From the Paleolithic Through the Aegean Bronze Age

4 Session Evening Course

Tuesday, February 1, 2022 - 6:30 p.m. to Tuesday, February 22, 2022 - 8:00 p.m. ET
Code: 1H0662
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Materials for this program

  1. Feb 1 Origins of Western Art | Handout
  2. Feb 8 Origins of Western Art | Handout
  3. Feb 15 Origins of Western Art | Handout
  4. Feb 22 Origins of Western Art | Handout

Fresco of Primavera (or Flora), ca. 1st cent., Stabiae

Our modern world echoes and even replicates the creative vestiges of the past—and the key to understanding our surroundings is through an overview of ancient material culture. Focusing on the Mediterranean region, art historian Renee Gondek offers a survey of the earliest traces of artistic production from the Paleolithic period through the late Bronze Age. (This course is the first of a two-part series. Part two begins April 4 and surveys art from the Greco-Roman period.)

February 1  The Paleolithic and Neolithic Periods

Tens of thousands of years before the invention of writing, ancient peoples created the first sculptures and paintings, like the Venus of Willendorf and the cave paintings from Lascaux and Altamira. New practices of agriculture and the development of permanent settlements during the Neotlithic period allowed for the development of large-scale architecture and monumental sculpture, such as Stonehenge in England.

February 8  The Ancient Near East

Mesopotamia’s Fertile Crescent was a large oasis where human life and artistic endeavors flourished. Survey Sumerian, Akkadian, Neo-Sumerian, Babylonian, Assyrian, and Neo-Babylonian art, from the intricately carved Warka Vase to the famed Ishtar Gate.

February 15  Ancient Egypt

Journey down the Nile during the third and second millennia B.C. and discover the massive mortuary and ritual complexes of the pharaohs, like the Great Pyramids at Giza, the funerary temple of Hatshepsut, the Tomb of Tutankhamen, and the Ramesseum at Abu Simbel. Iconic Egyptian sculptures and beautifully preserved frescoes and papyri are also examined.

February 22  The Aegean Bronze Age

Study the archaeological remains of the earliest Greeks—from the labyrinthian and well-planned palace of “King Minos” on Crete, to the well-fortified citadel of Mycenae in the Argolid, and from the bull leapers and snake goddesses of ancient Minoan deposits, to the golden death masks and ceremonial daggers from well-furnished Mycenaean graves.

4 sessions

World Art History Certificate core course: Earn 1 credit*

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*Enrolled participants in the World Art History Certificate Program receive 1 core course credit. Not yet enrolled? Learn about the program, its benefits, and how to register here.

This program is part of our
Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.