Ancient Art

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Between approximately 5000 BC and 300 AD, “advanced” civilizations (generally, those with written language) thrived in Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, Sumeria, Akkadia, Mexico, Rome, Japan, China, and India. Art played an important role in these growing societies by providing a means to enforce religious and political order. For example, one of the most famous artworks from ancient Mesopotamia, often called the “cradle of civilization,” is the Code of Hammurabi, a set of laws carved in stone and adorned by an image of King Hammurabi and the Mesopotamian god Shabash. Similarly, the art of ancient Egypt includes symbolic imagery alongside text (hieroglyphs) that tells stories and exalts rulers, gods, and goddesses. Although prehistoric humans made art as far back as 40,000 years ago, ancient art is considered by some to be the foundation of all of art history, with its techniques, forms, and subject matter continuing to inform the art of today.

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