ARCH0030 Fall16 S01 Art in Antiquity: An Introduction

ARCH0030 Fall16 S01 Art in Antiquity: An Introduction

Art in Antiquity: An Introduction ARCH 0030

What is ancient art? How can we begin to make sense of monuments and objects that were made thousands of years ago? Why should we care about colossal pre-historic monoliths of monsters, the Parthenon (and its many re-incarnations), or the fact that much of what we know about Greek statuary we have learned not from originals, but rather from copies? This class is an introduction to the art of the ancient world. Its chronological scope is vast—from the Upper Paleolithic (ca. 40,000 BC) to the advent of Christianity—with a major emphasis on the first millennium BC. We will concentrate geographically on the art of the ancient Mediterranean and Near East, glimpsing occasionally into other regions of the world including Western Europe and the Americas. Every session will revolve around a single object which we will treat in detail. In addition to the historical and cultural significance of art in antiquity, we will study the influence of ancient (especially Greek and Roman, but also prehistoric) art on later Western culture. While focusing on major monuments treated in class, we will also personally examine Brown’s and RISD’s collections of antiquities.

Instructor: Felipe Rojas

Class hours:  MWF 11:00-11:50

Office hours: T and Th 1-2 pm RIHall 212

Learning objectives

Students will gain familiarity with key objects, monuments, and sites from the ancient Mediterranean and Near East and acquire specific strategies to approach and analyze ancient art. As a requirement for their final project, students will also learn how to produce, record, and edit a digital podcast.


Required Textbook:

Greek Art and Archaeology c. 2500-c.150 BCE, by Richard Neer (Thames and Hudson 2012) is available at Bookstore, but will not be needed until the fourth week of class. Other required readings and all PowerPoint presentations will be made available through Canvas.

Special needs

Students with special needs should, please, identify themselves to the instructor as soon as possible and explain their requirements.


Students must attend regularly, participate actively in class, read all weekly assignments, and study all images in class powerpoints. In addition to a final exam, students are required to take two quizzes and to complete two projects, one shot essay or visual exercise, and a podcast. The quizzes and final exam will seek brief answers relating to texts and images from the lectures. They will be administered on-line through Canvas over a 24-hr span. On your honor, these are to be done alone!

Course Evaluation



Attendance and contribution 10%


Quiz 1 10%

W Oct 12

Object selection for Project 1

F Oct 14

Object selection for Project 2

M Oct 19

Project 1

Essay or visual exercise 20%


M Oct 31

Quiz 2 10%

M Nov 7

Project 2 Podcast 30%

o   Script 10%

o   Final podcast 20%


M Nov 14

F Dec 16

Final Exam 20%

T Dec 13


Project 1—

Thematic Essay or Visual Exercise on Objects in Brown Collections

Project 2—

Podcast on Most Fascinating Art Object in Antiquity (NB: it cannot be an object studied in class)


Class Schedule


Class Schedule



W Sep 7 Introduction, overview, objectives

F Sep 9            [1 Venus of Willendorf]

  • Read Judith Thurman “First Impressions: What does the world’s oldest art say about us?”
  • Read Judith Thurman “Ur mothers”


2—paleolithic c. 40,000bp-c. 11,000 bp mind 

M Sep 12        [2 Lion man of Hohle Fels]

  • Read Jill Cook “Europe’s oldest sculptures 40,000-30,000 years ago”

            ***Tu Sep 13 7pm RIHall 101***

  • Screening of Werner Herzog Cave of Forgotten Dreams (also available on Netflix)

 W Sep 14        [3 Chauvet Cave]       

  • Read Paul Bahn “Upper Paleolithic Imagery”
  • Take a virtual tour of Chauvet Cave online at      

F Sep 16          [4 Swimming reindeer]

  • Listen to Swimming Reindeer from A History of the World in 100 Objects available online at


  • Read Daniel Rosenberg “Marking Time” available at


3—neolithic c. 11,000bc-c. 4,000 bc                  memory        

M Sep 19         [5 Plastered Skull of Jericho]            

            ***Class meets at MulitmediaLab***

  • Read David Lewis-Williams and David Pearce “The Revolutionary Neolithic”
  • Read Alexandra Fletcher “What lies beneath” available at

W Sep 21         [6 Göbekli Tepe Monolith]

  • Read Charles Mann “The Birth of Religion” available online at
  • Read Elif Batuman “The Sanctuary”

F Sep 23           [7 Çatal Höyük Bear]

  • Read Ian Hodder “The Invention of History”


4—first cities c. 4,000 bc-c. 3,000 bc                 signs

M Sep 26      [8 Writing Tablet]

  • Listen to Early Writing Tablet from A History of the World in 100 Objects
  • Read Andrew Robinson "Writing and its Emergence"

W Sep 28       [9 Uruk vase]                                                

  • Read Denise Schmandt-Besserat “The Uruk vase: sequential narrative”
  • Read Zainab Bahrani “Performativity and the image: narrative, representation and the Uruk vase”
  • Listen to Standard of Ur from A History of the World in 100 Objects

F Sep 30          [10 Narmer Palette]

  • Read Laurel Bestock “The Violence is Inherent in the System”
  • Explore Corpus of Egyptian Late Predynastic Palettes available online at
  • Professor Laurel Bestock speaks about the Narmer Palette


5—bronze age c. 3,000 bc-1200bc                      fragments

M Oct 3           [11 Bull Leaper]

  • Read Neer 1
  • Listen to Minoan Bull Leaper from A History of the World in 100 Objects

W Oct 5            [12 Cycladic Figurine]

  • Read Colin Renfrew “Speculations on the Use of Early Cycladic Figurines”
  • Read Riccardo Elia “A Troubling and Seductive Work”
  • Professor John Cherry speaks about Cycladic Figurines

 F Oct 7             [13 Minoan Frescoes]

  • Read Yannis Hamilakis “Legacies of Mediterranean Prehistory”


6—iron age c. 1200bc-c.700 BC                         identity

M Oct 10

            ***NO CLASS***

W Oct 12        

            ***Map quiz***

  • Read Neer 2
  • Class will meet at RISD museum

F Oct 14          [ 14 Mycenae Lion's Gate; 15 Nestor’s cup (gold); 15b Nestor’s cup (clay)]

  • Read Neer 3
  • Select object in RISD Museum collection


7— archaic greece c. 700 bc-c. 440 bc              the body

M Oct 17         [16 Mantiklos]

  • Read Neer 4 and 5

W Oct 19         [18 Kouros]

            ***Object selection for podcast***

  • Read Neer 6
  • Read Michael Squire “Figuring Out What Comes Naturally”

 F Oct 21          [19 Tyrant Slayers]

  • Read Neer 8


8— classical greece c. 480-c. 400 bc                Athens

M Oct 24         [20 Acropolis]

  • Read Neer 11 
  • Professor Johanna Hanink speaks about the Athenian acropolis

 W Oct 26         [21 Parthenon]

  • Read Anthony Kaldellis "Conversion of the Parthenon"
  • Listen to Parthenon Sculpture from A History of the World in 100 Objects

 F Oct 28          [22 Karyatid]


9— art and how to make a podcast                                           

M Oct 31       

            ***Project 1 Due***      

  • Read Michael Squire “Classical Archaeology and the Contexts of Art History”      

W Nov 2     

Listen to 

F Nov 4       

  • Discussion: Questions of world art history

10— the hellenistic world c. 323bc-…                        originality

   M Nov 7         [26 Coin with head of Alexander]

***Quiz 2 due by midnight***

  • Read Neer 13
  • Listen to Coin of Alexander from A History of the World in 100 Objects

    W Nov 9        [27 Nike of Samothrace]

  • Read Neer 14

       F Nov 11    [28 Laocoon]

    • Read Mary Beard and John Henderson “Moving Statues: Art in the Age of Imitation”


    11—Rome                                performance

    M Nov 14  [Troy]     Performing Empire

    • Read Michael Sage "Visitors to Troy"

    W NOve 16 [29 Gold coin of Pompey]      the triumph

    • Read Mary Beard “Pompey’s Finest Hour” and “The Killing Fields”

     F Nov 18       [30 The Colosseum]                the games

    • Read Keith Hopkins and Mary Beard “And then”
    • Read Kathleen Coleman “Fatal Charades”




    M Nov 21       [32 Trajan's Column]

    • Read Mark Wilson Jones

    W Nov 23       [33 NO CLASS but listen to Mirjam Bruises' Removed Artefacts, Recycling, and the Ethical Agenda against Illicit Trade]

    F Nov 25 NO CLASS Thanksgiving Recess


    13— rome 1st c. ce-323ce                                  spaces of empire

    M Nov 28       [34 Solarium Augusti]

    • Read Selections of readings about the Sundial of Augustus

    W Nov 30       [35 Pantheon]

    • Read Marder and Wilson-Jones on the Pantheon

    F Dec 2           [36 Arch of Constantine]

    • Read Jas Elsner on the Arch of Constantine


    14— antiquity today              owning, collecting, destroying

    M Dec 5          [37 Parthenon stone with Ottoman inscription]

    • Read Daniel Mendelsohn “What does the Parthenon Mean?”

    W Dec 7          [38 Getty Kouros]

      • Read Ömür Harmanşah “ISIS, Heritage, and the Spectacles of Destruction in the Global Media”
      • Read Barry Flood “Between Cult and Culture”
      • Profesor Yannis Hamilakis visits

    F Dec 9           [39 Assyrian lamasu sculpture]

    • Read Hugh Eakin “Treasure Hunt: The Downfall of the Getty Curator Marion True”


    15— revixit ars 

    M Dec 12        [40 Antony Gormley’s Field]

    • Read Colin Renfrew Figuring it Out

    Tu Dec 13

    *** final exam***

    F Dec 16 final project due

    Course Summary:

    Date Details Due