In ancient times, different cultures used art as a form of power. Sculptures, symbols, etc. were leaders to send their desired message to citizens. These images would reflect either aspects of the leader or even reassure/remind citizens of past or future events taking place in their history. Here we will review examples of how different leaders used art.
One reason for using art was to show off status. In 2002, the grave of the Amesbury Archer was discovered. This grave was much older than a Roman grave. What was found interesting about this was he was wearing gold hair tresses, which are the oldest dated cast gold in Britain. These hair clasps suggested wealth and power, which elevated him from his peers.
Later on, art became a political tool. As time progressed, kingdoms grew larger and had to overcome communication issues. Darius the Great was a ruler of 20 nations. Most people couldn’t read and they were lacking a postal system. Darius decided to create a symbol for himself. Darius had stone reliefs created that were placed all over the empire and on coins; the carvings showed each nation bring tributes to their king. This showed a sign of respect and the carvings communicated Darius’s admiration and respect for his people. But unlike Darius, Alexander the Great’s political image was created for him. In modern day Greece, archeologists found the tomb of Alexander’s father. The tomb contained small sculptures, one of which was the face of Alexander before he was king, before ever fought in a battle. This same image was used for ages.
The leaders of past used paint and stone while today we use computers to manipulate our art, but as humans we still remain vulnerable to the persuasive power of art.
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