Alexander the Great's Empire: The Mediterranean, the Near East, and India

During this time period, people began to build permanent structures that allowed for a far-reaching cultures to develop.

These civilizations thrived in the environment of the Ancient Mediterranean and along massive inland rivers that provided food, security, and stable economies.

Works of art illustrate the active exchange of ideas and reception of artistic styles among Mediterranean cultures.

Multimedia.pngGo here for a summary of this time period with videos from Kahn Academy

ENDURING UNDERSTANDING 2-1 from AP Art History Curriculum Framework

Artistic traditions of the ancient Near East and dynastic Egypt focused on representing royal figures and divinities and on the function of funerary and palatial complexes within their cultural contexts.

Mesopotamian cylinder seal impression
Mesopotamian cylinder seal impression


The land between the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers is known as the cradle of civilization because it is home to the earliest large-scale human settlements.

These empires included the Sumerians, the Babylonians, and the Assyrians who all had an innovative and distinct artistic tradition.

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See Grade 7.11 for a description of Hammurabi's Code

See Grade 7.10 for important achievements of Mesopotamian civilization


Votive Figures
Sumer was a unique society as it was one of the only matriarchal civilizations that we study.

They were a relatively peaceful people who valued religion and were intent on constructing a strong community. However, their dedication to their gods was time consuming and took away from the times when they should be working in the fields or in production. To solve this problem of expressing devotion to gods, they turned to art.

This chapter discusses Surrogate Supplicants (AKA Votive Figures or Worship Statuettes). They are placed in the temple to show their piety even when they cannot physically be there to pray.

Multimedia.pngThis video describes these figurines in more depth.


Upper part of the Stela of Hammurabi's Code
Upper part of the Stela of Hammurabi's Code

The Babylonians were closely related to the Sumerians where they even adopted the Sumerian pantheon and simply changed some of the names. However, they also altered many of the myths because Babylon was a patriarchal culture. Many of the new stories focused on justice and law. These themes reappear in the political art of Babylon.

Hammurabi was a Babylonian king who created a code of laws for every citizen to follow and abide by. To commemorate it, he commissioned a large sculpture to exhibit these laws and the divinity that backed them.


Assyria is known in the Near East as one of the more militaristic civilizations and its art reflects that sentiment. While there is some truly gruesome art of death and violence, there is also a sort of defensive art that alludes to religious beliefs as well.
In Assyria, part human, part eagle, and part lion or bull creatures called Lamassu flanked the gates of major cities to scare away enemies and give a sense of protection to the inhabitants.

Take a look at how the Assyrians used Lamassu and where these sculptures are now.

ENDURING UNDERSTANDING 2-2 from AP Art History Curriculum Framework

Religion plays a signifcant role in the art and architecture of the ancient Near East, with cosmology guiding representation of deities and kings who themselves assume divine attributes.


The Kingdoms of Ancient Egypt

Egypt arose from the Nile River and the delta, relying on the flooding to sustain their agriculture and thus their extravagant society. Since it was so long-lasting, historians have divided the time periods based on cultural and political shifts.

This is an overview of the Ancient Egyptians aimed specifically to younger students with a short quiz at the end.

When looking at Egyptian sculptures or paintings, students should learn the Egyptian Canon of Proportions. They can try to position themselves like an Egyptian is depicted or they can use the grids to draw themselves in the same style.

Click here for a Sporcle quiz to see if you can identify the ten major Egyptian objects that could feature on the AP Art History exam.

rotating gif.gifSee Grade 7.16 for important achievements of Egyptian civilization

The Predynastic period of Egypt is the shortest but possibly the most significant period in Ancient Egypt. During this time, King Narmer unified the warring Upper Egypt in the south and Lower Egypt in the north. This unification lasts throughout the following three kingdoms.

Here is a complete analysis of the Palette of Narmer, a commemorative object that celebrates the unification of Egypt by King Narmer.

Old Kingdom

The Great Pyramid and the Great Sphinx, Francis Frith, 1857
The Great Pyramid and the Great Sphinx, Francis Frith, 1857

The Old Kingdom saw the first Pharaohs of Egypt and produced some of the most magnificent and iconic works of art of all time. While the Egyptian masterpieces are the most well studied, there are other sculptures and artifacts that lend insight into the way the Old Kingdom Dynasties operated.

One such statue was the Seated Scribe. While he seems rather insignificant, this sculpture reveals a lot about the upper class of the Egyptian social system under the first few Pharaohs.
This blog post gives an in depth visual analysis of the Scribe while this website allows you view the sculpture in the round using a 3D model.

external image History_hourglass.svgConnections to the History Standards

See Grade 7.14: Role of Pharaoh/Concept of Dynasties

Middle Kingdom

New Kingdom

Akhenaten, Nefertiti, and their three daughters

Perhaps one of the most peculiar shifts in Egyptian culture occurred during the New Kingdom Dynasties.

While many dynasties carried on the traditions of the past, Pharaoh Akhenaten and his family ushered in the Amarna Period, a time where the typical Egyptian pantheon of gods was discarded for a monotheistic religion under Aten, the sexless sun disc.

The artistic movement was noticeably distinct from the rest of Egyptian art, as well.

Screen Shot 2016-10-28 at 12.13.15 PM.pngThis is a lesson plan about the Amarna Period and Akhenaten while this link goes into detail about the changes of the arts during Akhenaten's reign.

Acropolis of Athens
Acropolis of Athens

ENDURING UNDERSTANDING 2-4 from AP Art History Curriculum Framework

The art of Ancient Greece and Rome is grounded in civic ideals and polytheism. Etruscan and Roman artists and architects accumulated and creatively adapted Greek objects and forms to create buildings and artworks that appealed to their tastes for eclecticism and historicism.


rotating gif.gifLink to Grade 7.34 for development of Greek institutions

Ancient Greek Colonization and Trade and Their Influence on Greek Art

The Three Orders of Greek Architecture: Doric, Ionic and Corinthian

The Athenian Agora: Overview of Archaeological Excavations

Multimedia.pngThe Athenian Agora and the Experiment in Democracy

Winged Victory of Samothrace, Louvre
Winged Victory of Samothrace, Louvre

Alexander the Great and the Spread of Greek Culture

The Hellenistic World: The World of Alexander the Great.
  • Greek Culture spread through statutes, architecture, literature and coins

Multimedia.pngGreek/Hellenic Legacy: Alexander the Great from The British Museum on YouTube

Inside Rome’s Colosseum
Inside Rome’s Colosseum

School of Athens by Raphael
School of Athens by Raphael

Multimedia.pngThis video discusses Raphael's painting "The School of Athens"

  • All of the figures in the painting are revolutionary Greek men. In the center we see Plato and Aristotle deep in discussion.

  • This painting is not historically precise in that all of these men lived at different periods and would never have been in one place together, but the idea of the gymnasium as a place for revolutionary thought can be seen.


rotating gif.gifSee Grade 7.43 for notable contributions of Roman civilization


Roman Republic

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Head of Roman Patrician gives background information on this famous sculpture from 75-50 BCE

Roman Imperial: