Category Archives: Ancient Art

Aeolic column Aeolic capital, Archaeological Museum of Mytilene in Mytilene, Lesvos, Greece

Just a Second: Aeolic Order

The Aeolic order is a style of ancient Greek architecture thought to be the prototype of the Ionic order. The Aeolic style, which appears in the 6th century BCE, probably originated with the Phoenicians because there are similarities between the Aeolic column capitals and … Continue reading

The Nativity, Sarcophagus lid, c. 408 CE, Basilica of St. Ambrose, Milan, Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons. The Nativity, Sarcophagus lid, c. 408 CE, Basilica of St. Ambrose, Milan, Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

The Earliest Nativity

The earliest Nativity scene in art is carved into a sarcophagus lid once thought to be for a Roman general, Stilicho, who died in 408 CE. The ox and the ass and two birds are the only figures that appear in addition … Continue reading

Stonehenge, bluestone, c. 3100 BCE – 1600 BCE, Amesbury, Wiltshire, United Kingdom Stonehenge, bluestone, c. 3100 BCE – 1600 BCE, Amesbury, Wiltshire, United Kingdom

Stonehenge: The Cosmic Cemetery

Scholars are closer to unlocking the mystery of the ancient monument, Stonehenge. This month, Michael Parker-Pearson at University College London published an article in Antiquity supporting the “graveyard theory,” which is the idea that the site was used as a … Continue reading

Lamassu from Khorsabad, ISIS Lamassu (winged bulls) from Khorsabad, restored and housed in the Louvre, Paris, Photo by gulfuroth via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic License.

The Art that ISIS Destroyed

In recent months, the media has released videotapes of members of ISIS (The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) destroying irreplaceable artifacts from ancient civilizations with sledgehammers and jackhammers inside the Mosul Museum in Iraq. Thankfully, many of these works … Continue reading

Sarcophagus Lid, Pakal Transitioning from Life to Death, c. 675 BCE, Temple of the Inscriptions, Palenque, Chiapas, Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Pakal: The Original Starman

Beneath the stepped pyramid of the Temple of Inscriptions, down a steep stairway and in a small chamber, rests the tomb of K’inich Janaab’ Pakal. The ancient Mayan king Pakal, part political leader and part living god, ascended to the … Continue reading

Roman copy of the Apoxyomenos by Lysippos, original c. 330 BCE, Museo Pio-Clementino, Vatican City, Rome, Photo by Marie-Lan Nguyen via Wikimedia Commons.

Getting Slick with the Apoxyomenos

The Apoxyomenos, or the “Scraper,” is a popular subject in ancient Greek art that depicts athletes cleaning themselves by rubbing olive oil on their bodies and then scraping it off with a curved metal scraper, called a strigil. This particular … Continue reading

Hegesandros, Polydoros, and Athanodoros of Rhodes, Laocoön and His Sons, Roman copy of 1st cen. CE sculpture. Marble, 6’ 7” high, Vatican Museum, Rome, Photo by Marie-Lan Nguyen via Wikimedia Commons, Artwork in the Public Domain.

The Wrath of Athena: Laocoön and His Sons

The Art Minute University:  This post was written by Meghan Rayford, a student at Southwestern University. Laocoön, who was the priest of Poseidon, was subjected to the wrath of Athena after he suggests that the Trojan horse, filled with the Greek … Continue reading

Constantine the Great, c. 315, marble, 8½ feet tall, Palazzo dei Conservatori, Musei Capitolini, Rome, Photo by Camille King via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic License.

Constantine’s Big Ol’ Head

Not long after the Roman Emperor Constantine defeated his foe Maxentius at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge, wresting control of the Roman Empire, he left Italy in 324 CE to found Constantinople, which is present-day Istanbul. This is not … Continue reading

Obelisk in St. Peter's Square, Rome, Photo by Danbu14, Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.

Just a Second: Obelisk

Obelisk (noun) A four-sided monument with a pyramid-shaped, pointed top that originated in ancient Egypt.  The shape is thought to be inspired by the rays of the sun. The obelisk that today stands in front of St. Peter’s Basilica in … Continue reading