Importance of Ancient Works of Art
Artwork has and still remains a very important part of people’s lives. The visual and performing arts allow people to express their beliefs and feelings in an open manor. People have been doing this for over 30,000 years. Since most art expresses the feelings and beliefs of a person, the art also express much of their culture. Historians and students can learn from this artwork about a certain culture. Most prehistoric and ancient cultures do not have many written documents and without this artwork we would know very little to nothing about them. That is why artwork from any culture, especially Ancient ones is so important. About 30,000 years ago, man first started making art. This artwork was very basic but by studying it, historians have got a large insight into the way that ancient people thought and acted. The paintings are simple cave paintings of wild animals inside a cave in Chauvet, France (Janson 39). To the naked eye these paintings look very insignificant, but they tell a great deal of detail. They tell us how these nomadic people lived and what they ate. The paintings depict people hunting bison-like animals along with horses running wild. This allows historians to see what animals were alive at this time too (Fiero 4-5). Another very important item to Ancient people was fertility. Without fertility no one would survive and when a civilization has a limited number of people, fertility is the number one issue. This is especially present in the Venus of Willendorf, which dates back from 25,000 to 20,000 BCE (Janson 41). This first sculpture known by man is a much distorted women that shows fertility. The Venus has enlarged breasts and waists, which suggests she is pregnant. Also, there is not a clear image of her face. It is unknown why her face is not depicted clearly; it might be because the artisans of that time did not have the skill level to depict a face. But more-likely, her face did not show much importance. She was a woman, and back in this time the thought was women were created for one thing, making children (Janson 41). The culture knew that children were the future and that is why they used their resources to depict a very important part of life, a pregnant woman. Just as pregnancy and fertility were important in this time, so were ritual, sacrifice, and religion. All three of these could have been the reason why the Stonehenge was built about 4,000 years ago in modern day England (Janson 45). The main purpose of the Stonehenge is still unknown, but there are many theories surrounding it. It was most likely used for a religious and spiritual worship, because an alter was found in the middle of it (Janson 45). The structure is extremely big, built with large blocks of stone that each weighed several tons each. By moving these blocks into place, these Ancient people built columns and beams that formed a ring-like structure. This work was extremely physical and harsh, without modern equipment it took a longtime to complete (Janson 45). This shows how important religion was to these people and what extreme measures they would go to, to make sure their “gods” were happy. The Egyptians were a prime of example of pleasing a higher-power just like Ancient culture that inhibited England. Between 2601 and 2515 BCE, the Egyptians constructed one of the biggest and most magnificent structures of the Ancient world. They built the Pyramids at Giza, which are one of the seven wonders of the Ancient world (Janson 54). These pyramids were built by hand and took many years to complete. They were built by moving several-ton limestone blocks into place and stacking them on top of each other. As anyone can image this process was very physical-labor intensive and difficult. But these Pyramids were built to honor their dead Pharaohs (Janson 55). These Pharaohs were also believed to be a god and that is why they were honoring them in such great...
Cited: Fiero, Gloria K. The Humanistic Tradition Vol. 1 : Prehistory to the Early Modern World. New York: McGraw-Hill Humanities, Social Sciences & World Languages, 2005. 1-130.
Janson, Anthony F. History of Art. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 2004. 38-136.
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