Ancient Artwork in Eastern Africa and Europe

East Africa and Europe: The Oldest Artworks on Earth

East Africa and Europe have been discovered by scholars to be the location for the oldest artworks on earth. Artwork such as work modeled in clay, female statutes, carved wood, ivory, etc. were found in these locations. People during the Old Stone Age were able to cultivate crops unlike the Paleolithic Age where men were only hunters and gatherers. Domestication of animal, production of bows and arrows as well as technology of pottery also characterized the old stone age. In Algeria, the paints of Tasili n’ Ajjer of women harvesting fruits and grains and men herding cattle is a clear evidence to this. The reason why a lot of the drawings survived is that the material used was durable, the local environment was hot and dry, the early cultures organized themselves in classes, and the people preserved the artist works. The different artist works depicted the various ways in which cultures developed how the people were thinking and the roles in which art played in the society as illustrated in cultures like Mesopotamia, Egypt, Aegean, Greece, and Rome.

Mesopotamia: The Cradle of Civilization

To start Mesopotamia which is almost the size of Iraq had some artifacts and writings. The Sumerians who were the inhabitants of Mesopotamia made scripts called the cuneiform which is one of the oldest forms of writing in human history. People of Mesopotamia also used bricks to build their temples, and the largest temple was called ziggurat. Sumerians made their temples in a visible place because they assumed that the temples were meeting point between earth and heaven. The scientists discovered a figure of a goat standing with four legs propped on a flowering plant, the head of Akkadian ruler from Nineveh and a human-headed winged lion from Nimrud in Mesopotamia. Eventually, in the 7th century, the Babylonians conquered Mesopotamia.

Egypt: The Symbolism of Life After Death

Egypt was the second place where archeologists found the ancient arts. The central message for the arts was for continuity of life because they believed in life after death. The commonly known arts include the great sphinx which has a head of a man and a body of an animal. The sphinx symbolized the semi-divine status of the pharaoh. The palette of Narmer was another artist work that portrayed victory and the Egyptian state over the enemies. Most of the arts were found in tombs because the Egyptians royals were buried with all their valuables. To show that they buried people with their belongings English archaeologist Howard Carter discovered the tomb of King Tutankhamun in 1992 and got objects of alabaster, precious stones, and gold in abundance.

Aegean: Three Significant Cultures

Aegean is a place between Greek peninsula and the continent of Asia which had remains of art. Three significant cultures were found in the Aegean; Cycladic found at the islands of Aegean, Minoan was found in the island of Crete southern end of Aegean and Mycenaean culture that was found on the mainland of Greece. The Cycladic civilization had arts consisting of female figures with abstract geometric shapes and projections. The feminine values were found in tombs which suggest that they were used for some rituals. The numbers would also indicate that they represent the female deity. The Minoans culture which was traced from 2000 B.C.E had arts that illustrated that the people who lived there were lighthearted and cheerful who were devoted to sports and games. Minoans seemed to have respected bullfighting as demonstrated in the image ‘Treado Fresco' at Knossos. Lastly, Mycenaean culture flourished on the south coast of Greek. Unlike the Minoans and the Cycladic, it seems that the Mycenaean were influenced by the Egyptians because they were the only goldsmiths. Probably the Egyptians and the Nubians supplied them with gold.

Greece and Rome: The Classical Worlds

The Greeks and Romans were considered the classical worlds in the history of art. Conventional means it should be of the highest standard possible. To begin with, people respect Greece because of excellence in almost all areas; political ideals, Greek drama, and poetry are living classics, the Greek philosophers were the first people to speculate about the nature and purpose of art. Because of the fame from other areas, people assume it was excellent in art Some of the impressions include a vessel used to take wine called a krater found in the 8th century, and it had a hole at the base. Most of the kraters were found in graves. The fact that they had an opening and people found it in the tombs people interpreted that they were meant to pour libations to the death. As compared to the Egyptians who were buried with their luxurious fittings the Greeks did not believe in life after death. The Greek arts were different from the Egyptians because using the example of a Greek statue ‘Keuros’ the Greek statues were nude and anonymous while Egyptian statues had clothes and depicted specific people in the society. The Greek sculptors were offered as offerings at sanctuaries to be set as grave markers in the cemetery. Another great artwork is the ‘amphora' which is a storage vessel decorated with a scene at the gymnasium. The art showed how the Greeks valued exercises at the theater. The warrior watching the wrestling in the art is made of bronze which implies Greeks valued bronze.

Athens and the Parthenon: A Symbol of Glory

Athens city had been destroyed during the wars, and when Perkles got into power, he decided to rebuild it because he wanted to bring the glory of Athens back. Perikle’s friend, a sculptor, was made in charge of the architectural project on the high hill /Acropolis. This Parthenon was decorated with sculptures some of which were taken to the British Empire making Greece famous. Most scholars have studied the Parthenon more than any building in the west. Hellenistic was a phase in the Greek art that made a difference in history. Hellenistic means the spread of the Greek culture. Alexander's death marked the beginning of Hellenistic culture. The Hellenistic style went overboard the usual poses and the expression of emotion an example being the ‘laocoon group’ the continual classical style emphasized balance and restraint an example is the sculptor of Aphrodite of moles known as the Venus de Milo equivalent to the Greek goddess of fertility love and beauty.

Romans: Admirers and Imitators

During the Hellenistic period, the pride of the Greek culture was very high. The Romans mainly admired the Greeks. The Romans commissioned statues and paintings from Greek artists and made copies in marble. One aspect of Hellenistic art that was imitated by the Romans was the tendency of drawing realistic portraits of individuals in society. Roman sculptures became excellent in realism. They made statues of citizens who wished to be remembered. A double portrait of gratidia m.l chrite and m. gratidia labanos is an example of Roman works. Also, the picture of Marcus Aurelius was made by Romans. Romans were even masters of painting although little is known about them because a volcano erupted and buried the remains. An example of a great portrait by the Romans was one fresco called villas of mysteries which is believed to represent secret cult rituals associated with god Dionysus. The archeologists found a picture of dwellings of mystery in Pompeii, and most of the floors of beautiful houses were decorated using mosaics. Romans are also known for their architecture and engineering through an amphitheater for gladiatorial games and public entertainments. Although the Romans were spectacular in the art after conquering Egypt, they were fascinated by the Egyptian culture and imported many Egyptian statutes to Rome making the worship of the Egyptian goddess spread throughout the empire.

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