AP Art History

Unit 1: c. 30,000 - 500 BCE

Global Prehistory

Images 1-11

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Paleolithic Art

 
  • Mostly concerned hunting-related scenes since Paleolithic peoples hunted for food

  • Used simple tools rather than complex carving tools

Image 1: Apollo 11 Stones

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Name

Apollo 11 Stones

Location

Namibia

Date

25,500 - 25,300 BCE

Material

Charcoal on Stone

  • Human legs + Animal body → Suggests divinity & belief in the supernatural because this creature doesn't exist

  • Meant to be carried in the hand → Could be an amulet for harmony between humans and nature since they hunted wild animals for food

  • Prominent utter → Strong belief in fertility

Image 2: Great Hall of the Bulls

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Name

Great Hall of the Bulls

Location

Lascaux, France

Date

15,000-13,000 BCE

Material

Rock Painting

  • Drawing of the animals → Meant to capture their spirit to ensure a more successful hunt (ritual purpose)

  • 2nd photo shows a large bison (much larger than the human next to it) → Sought to warn people about the dangers of hunting big animals

Image 3: Camelid Sacrum in the Shape of a Canine

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Name

Camelid Sacrum in the Shape of a Canine

Location

Tequixquiac, Central Mexico

Date

14,000-7,000 BCE

Material

Bone

  • Sacrum bone is sacred as it's besides the pelvis → Represents fertility

Image 4: Running Horned Woman

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Name

Running Horned Woman

Location

Tassili n'Ajjer, Algeria

Date

6,000-4,000 BCE

Material

Pigment on Rock

  • Very difficult to reach this isolated rock painting → It's very sacred and meant for ritual purposes

  • The large woman with bull heads running → Represents relationship between humans & animals for survival​

  • Cloud at top could represent rain or grain, and people around her are dancing → Ritual to encourage Agricultural fertility

Neolithic Art

 
  • Used more complex metal tools → Allowed for more intricate carvings

  • Societies now had a sedentary lifestyle → Gave them more time, energy, and resources to make intricate carvings

  • Many objects were placed in burials as burials for the dead were only popular in sedentary (non-nomadic) societies

Image 5: Beaker with Ibex Motifs

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Name

Beaker with Ibex Motifs

Location

Susa, Iran

Date

4,200 - 3,500 BCE

Material

Painted terra cotta

  • Animal motifs + Geometric shapes → Represent the abstraction of naturalism and the ritual purpose of nature

    • Grain in the center symbolizes agricultural fertility (encouraging agriculture to flourish in the person's death)​

    • This was buried with the dead → Its naturalistic motifs have ritual purposes

  • The designs are elongated and circular → Represent the cylindrical nature of the pot itself

    • Birds' elongated necks at the top of the pot (represent the pot's height)​

    • Ibex (Goat)'s horns are round (counterclockwise) → Represent the circular base of the cylinder

Image 6: Anthropomorphic Stele

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Name

Anthropomorphic Stele

Location

Arabian Peninsula

Date

Fourth millennium BCE

Material

Sandstone

  • Emphasis on abstraction of the human body (anthropomorphism) → Elicits a degree of sadness due to the weird structure of body

    • Use of perfect geometry and proportional figures (trapezoidal face, flat nose, etc.) → Makes the figures look a bit strange

    • Some figures appear slightly asymmetrical → Adds to the feeling of sadness/discomfort

    • Emphasis on human body (and not animal or divine figures) → Represents idea of anthropomorphism

  • Used as a grave marker → Protects the dead in their afterlife

    • Dagger may signify protection (could be the stele of a warrior)

  • Similar stelae have been found throughout the Arabian peninsula (across 2300km) → Represents communication of ideas and materials

    • Many of the materials used in similar stelae are nonnative (exogenous) → Represents circulation of materials throughout Arabian peninsula

Image 7: Jade Cong

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Name

Jade Cong

Location

Liangzhu, China

Date

3300 - 2200 BCE

Material

Carved Jade

  • Buried with people's graves and serves as a link to the afterlife

    • Sometimes these jade congs represent people's faces (to honor the dead in the graves that they mark)

    • The circular hole in the center represents heaven & the square outline represents Earth → Serves as a bridge between Earth & heaven/afterlife

  • Carved using sand as an abrasive material to chip the jade → Represents the complexity of sedentary societies

    • Only after the neolithic revolution could more complex works be made since they required specialists to work for months on one project; this would be difficult in nomadic societies​

Image 8: Stonehenge

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Name

Stonehenge

Location

Wiltshire, UK

Date

c. 2500 - 1600 BCE

Material

Sandstone

  • Used as a burial & ritual center as its composition has astronomical significance

    • Located far from where people lived → People likely only came here for rituals

    • On summer and winter solstice, the sun aligns perfectly with the Heel Stone (a special stone outside the main circle)→ Suggests divine significance of the sun

    • Was a burial site for the upper classes

  • Uses very heavy stones and lots of perfect geometry → Represents a complex sedentary society

    • Heavy stones were fashioned from a local quarry and hauled by laborers to this site​

    • Some stones have cuts in them so that multiple stones can perfectly fit together → Represents complex engineering skills

Image 9: The Ambum Stone

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Name

The Ambum Stone

Location

Ambum Valley, Enga Province, Papua New Guinea

Date

c.1500 BCE

Material

Greywacke

  • Appears to be in a fetal position → Suggests emphasis on fertility/birth

    • Could be shaped like an echidna, which represents the idea of food and fertility

    • Could be a ritual object meant to promote fertility

  • Required lots of time & energy to carve this (greywacke is very hard) → Suggests its importance across generations

    • The stone was initially very rough, and carving it into this smooth stone required lots of effort → Represents characteristics of a sedentary society

    • Was very well-handled and passed down across generations (instead of buried in the ground) → Showcases this stone's value

    • This stone's high value could suggest its ritualistic importance (especially in promoting fertility)

Image 10: Tlatilco Female Figurine

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Name

Tlatilco Female Figurine

Location

Central Mexico, Site of Tlatilco

Date

1200 - 900 BCE

Material

Ceramic

  • Showcases a female figurine with an emphasis on the hip area → Emphasis on fertility

    • These figurines were located in burials, likely to promote the fertility of the next generation

  • Showcases two faces with a shared eye → Promotes the duality and connection between life and death

    • Located in a burial to encourage the dead person in the burial to have a prosperous afterlife

Image 11: Terra Cotta Fragment

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Name

Terra Cotta Fragment

Culture

Lapita

Location

Soloman Islands, Reef Islands

Date

1000 BCE

Material

Terracotta (incised)

  • These designs often contain human (anthropomorphic) faces → Represent supernatural beliefs​

  • These stones found on different Polynesian islands often share similar patterns → Represent influence across the various islands

    • However, as we move eastward from the Solomon Islands, the designs get simpler → Shows that the remote Oceanian islands lacked pottery-making resources

    • These islands had a common language → Made it easier for the instructions to make the specific patterns to spread across the islands → This is why the islands have similar patterns