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  • Bison. Copy

     (c.12000 BCE )
    PALEOLITHIC Anonymous (1500000 BCE - 8000 BCE)
    This reproduction of the Altamira cave, created by German artists in a museum, conveys a good idea of how the ceiling might have looked to the Paleolithic people who viewed it by the flickering light of tiny oil lamps. As we look at the composition, we can see individual animals, but does not seem to be any ground line, or any sense of background or space. In fact, the animals were not painted as a composition at all, but rather individual bison were added gradually over the centuries to create the great tapestry of animals that now seems to cover the ceiling. It is thought that this was done for the same reason that the handprints were concentrated in certain areas. These areas were considered the most sacred so they were used over and over again, even though clean walls were available in much more accessible places. We have no records of what they did in the caves. However, we know that Paleolithic families did not live there, for no traces of the hearths or garbage dumps associated with early habitations have been found in them. Although more convenient sites were often available near the mouth of the cave, Paleolithic artists invariably chose to work deep within the cave, in sacred sites that were most likely reserved for ceremonials that were related to the hunt. Based upon his studies of worldwide mythology, Joseph Campbell put forth the idea that the rites practiced in these Paleolithic cave temples were related to the idea of atonement to the animals which must give their lives that the human beings who hunted them might live. Campbell describes the animals painted deep inside the dark caves: "Their herds are the herds, not of time, but of eternity, out of which the animals of the light-world come, and back to which they return for renewal." Campbell expresses his ideas in poetic form, and they reach beyond the one often proposed that the rituals were merely a kind of magic in which hunters threw spears at the depictions of the animals in hopes of striking one during a subsequent hunt.
  • Gatherers of Dead Wood.

     (August 1884)
    Vincent VAN GOGH (1853 - 1890)67 cm x 126 cm
    Also known as Wood Gatherers in the Snow.
  • Ghardaia. Mozabite men and motorcycles.

     (c. 2006)
    Kathleen COHEN (1933-)
    The practitioners of the Ibadi sect of Islam in Algeria are know as Mozabites. The men wear white hats and traditional baggy pants. Many of the women wear white hijabs that cover them completely.
  • L. Dancer. R. Black Gate Keeper

     (c. 618 - 900)
    TANG Anonymous (618 - 909)
    The Tang court was one of the most truly cosmopolitan centers in the ancient world. Its enormous empire contained a large number of so-called "barbarians": Turks, Uighers, Persians and Hindus. During the 7th century some two hundred thousand Persians, Arabs, Indians, Malays and others lived in Guangzhou as traders, artisans and metalworkers. The ruling family, who was itself part Turkish, could not suppress its curiosity about foreigners. However, following the old Chinese belief that they were the only civilized people, they were also suspicious of these foreigners and alternately emulated and persecuted them. Foreign entertainers were popular in the Tang court, like the juggler on the left whose garments and jewelry style reveal his Indian or South East Asian origin. The young man on the right, depicted with black skin and tight curls, may represent an African. We know that Tang traders went by ship along the South China coast around India and as far as Africa, and it is quite probable that some Africans made the journey to the Middle Kingdom. According to the records of one Tang customs official, some must have come as slaves: "[In the west] there is an island in the sea on which there are many savages. Their bodies are as black as lacquer and they have frizzled hair. They are enticed by {offers of} food and then captured and sold as slaves to Arabic countries, where they fetch a very high price. They are employed as gatekeepers..." Although there was no shortage of Chinese people who were slaves, it was said that "most of the wealthy people" in Guangzhou preferred to have Africans as gatekeepers.
  • L.. Cylinder seal. Ishtar & Shamash R. Temple of Innana.

     (c. 2254-2193 BCE)
    AKKADIAN Anonymous (2334 BCE - 2157 BCE)
    In a hot semi-arid country the sun was not considered the bringer of fertility, rather it was the morning dew that people thought made the plants grow. The goddess Ishtar was identified with Venus, the morning and evening star, and it was believed that she brought fertility to the land. However, like most representations of the Great Goddess, Ishtar was associated with both life and death. As in images of many of these goddesses, the lion represents her control over death. Life and death were seen by the Mesopotamians as two sides of the same coin, as the continuos process of nature, often personified as two aspects of the same goddess. The image of Ishtar and her lion is the imprint of a CYLINDER SEAL, which was a small round piece of stone carved with scenes like this one. When rolled across the damp clay used for documents, the pattern was imprinted in relief. The seal would identify the owner of the document and functioned as a signature. This particular seal was Akkadian, and it is very similar to Sumerian seals. You can see the imprint of the hieroglyphic script, as well as the figure of Ishtar and her lion. Ishtar's divinity is indicated by the horned headdress that she wears. The swords behind her wings tell us that she is also the goddess of war. We will see that, unlike the Sumerians, the Akkadians were fierce warriors. In adopting the Sumerian Innana into their culture, they transformed the earlier agricultural goddess of life and death into a war goddess. The Sumerians called the Great Goddess Inanna, but you should know her by the name of Ishtar; the more popular name given to her by later groups in Mesopotamia. In the relief on the right from the ancient Sumerian Temple of Inanna we can see the goddess with a vase of water, for water was the key to fertile lands, then as now. Water flows from her vase across and down the sides of her niche, forming the curves that are associated with a serpent. We will see that the serpent is also associated with life, for serpents can shed their skins, and thus renew themselves.
  • Map of the Aegean.

    In this lesson we will examine the flourishing of the Goddess cultures and what happens when the invading heroes meet the goddess. Here is a map of the Aegean, the area that we will study in this lesson. We will start, however, with art from two sides of the Aegean: from Çatal Huyuk in Anatolia on the far right and the Island of Malta which is located on the left side of the map below Sicily. The Neolithic cultures of Anatolia and Malta devoted to the worship of the goddess seem to be related to the later goddess worshipping cultures of the Aegean. The Aegean area name derives from the AEGEAN SEA which is located between Greece and Asia Minor, or what is now Turkey. Three different centers developed in this region during the same period as the cultures we have studied were thriving in Egypt and Mesopotamia. The first, the Cycladic civilization, was centered in a group of islands called the Cyclades, which you can locate in the center of the map. The second, known as the Minoan civilization, was on the island of Crete, which is located on the lower part of the map, and the last, or Mycenaean civilization, was situated in the lower section of Greece itself. We will see that the Minoans were essentially a peaceful civilization which grew rich on the trade they fostered. The Mycenaeans, who followed them, were much more interested in conquest than trade, and used their arms to procure the treasures that they coveted. While we are not yet able to fully read the Minoan language, we know that it did not belong to the family of Indo-European languages. Greek, however, does belong to the Indo-European language group, and we now know that the Mycenaeans spoke an early version of Greek. Thus, the Mycenaeans were related to the Aryans that invaded the Indus Valley in India who we will study a little later. They too, were warriors and conquerors. The art from Crete is known as Minoan, named for the legendary King Minos who supposedly built the labyrinth on Crete. The art from the mainland of Greece is known as Helladic, a word which derives from Hellas, an early name for Greece. Early Minoan/ Helladic: 3000-2000 BCE Middle Minoan/ Helladic: 2000-1700 BCE Late Minoan/Helladic: 1700-1200 BCE While the most important period for Cycladic art was the early period, Minoan art was most significant during the middle period and art on the mainland was most important during the late period. We give the special name Mycenaean to this period.
  • Mozabite women and child.

    Kathleen COHEN (1933-)
    The Ibadis practice a form of Islam that is distinct from both the Sunni and the Shi'a. Ibadism is both conservative and very egalitarian believing that any believer can be elected as Iman. It is believed to be one of the earliest schools and developed out of the Kharijites who believed they were the only Muslims faithful to the original Islam. The women are closely covered allowing only one eye to show. Because of their strict moral code they are called 'the puritans of the desert.' The practitioners of the Ibadi sect of Algeria are know as Mozabites. The men wear white hats and traditional baggy pants while many of the women wear white hijabs that cover them completely.
  • Sacred mountain for Pueblo Indians near Flagstaff in Arizona.

     (c. 1975)
    PUEBLO Anonymous (active 1000 - Present)
    The snow-covered mountain is part of the San Franciso mountins which are volcanoes.; cinder cones are in the foreground.
  • Vanity.

     (c. 1660-1691)
    Nicholas van VEERENDAEL (1640 - 1691)
    Flowers= love; Tulip=Vanity; Daffodil & Narcissus=Death; Rose=Love; Lily= Purity; Snow Bell=Beauty.