top of page

AP Art History

Unit 2: c. 3,500 BCE - 300 CE

Ancient Mediterranean

Images 12-47

Main Ideas:

  • As civilizations started to form, people appointed leaders to govern their civilizations, and they made artworks to showcase the power of their leaders, emphasizing a social hierarchy

  • As civilizations started to expand, they often had conflict with other civilizations, so people created works of art to showcase their own civilization as superior

Main Ideas of the Topic

  • Often use long beards and elaborate headdresses to showcase the power of the king

  • Show that the kings humbly accept God as their overlord in order to legitimize their own power
  • Use hierarchy of scale to emphasize the strict Mesopotamian social hierarchies and king's power

Predynastic & Old Kingdom:

Main Ideas of the Topic

  • During the Old Kingdom, pharaohs just had control over the northern part of present-day Egypt as the Egyptian Civilization was just forming

  • Old Kingdom art mostly concerns spreading the power of the pharaohs and preserving their ka spirits to help establish and maintain the rule of the Egyptian pharaohs as the Egyptian Kingdom was just forming

New Kingdom:

Main Ideas of the Topic

  • During the New Kingdom, Egypt became really wealthy due to its control over more territory to the South, especially the gold-rich land of Nubia (Sudan)

  • New Kingdom art is more concerned with showing Egyptian Gods, culture, and richness to establish Egyptian hegemony in the region it controls

Archaic Greek:

Main Ideas of the Topic

  • Very simplistic in its composition; much less emotion, diversity, intricacy, naturalism, or realism than Classical or Hellenistic Greek Art

Classical Greek:

Main Ideas of the Topic

  • Used mathematical proportions to create naturalistic and realistic sculptures; Used drapery and intricate details to reveal human anatomical shapes;
  • Sought to showcase sculptures in an idealized way → Used as a model for many societies in the future

Hellenistic Greek:

Main Ideas of the Topic

  • Alexander the Great died in 323 BCE → Split his empire into Ptolemaic (Egypt), Antigonid (Macedonia/Turkey), and Seleucid (Persia) Dynasties → Greek culture spread to these regions and influenced local cultures
  • Hellenistic Greek art is more emotional and energetic and seeks to showcase Greek culture in a way that's appealing to the people of these other regions

Main Ideas of the Topic

  • In Etruscan society, funerals were not somber but rather festive celebrations of one's life → Funeral-related artworks showcase this sense of conviviality
  • Etruscans learned about Greek art by trading with Greeks, but because they became super wealthy through Italy's natural resources, they added their own "elegant touch" to their copies/adaptations of Greek traditions

Republican Rome:

Main Ideas of the Topic

  • Uses imagery to establish the basic customs of Roman society without excessive emotion, such as paterfamilias (male family head), patrocinium (client-patron relationship), strong family bonds, and respect for Greek culture

Imperial Rome:

Main Ideas of the Topic

  • Since Augustus became the 1st emperor of Rome in 27 BCE, Romans needed to use imperial military strength rather than an elected council to maintain their rule → They commissioned artworks to showcase their strength
  • Imperial Roman art depicts Romans (& their emperors) as stronger, superior, & wealthier than others, discouraging other peoples in the empire from challenging Roman rule → Roman empire can maintain stability
bottom of page