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Ancient Art Vocab

Ancient Art History Vocab

Iconography Identifying and studying the subject matter and conventional symbols in works of art
Sculpture in the Round Three-dimensional sculpture that is carved free from any background or block
Relief Sculpture A three-dimensional image or design whose flat background surface is carved away to a certain depth, setting off the figure.
Composite Pose Combining different viewpoints within a single representation
Stele A stone slab placed vertically and decorated with inscriptions or reliefs. Used as a grave marker of commemorative monument
Hierarchic scale The use of differences in size to indicate relative importance.
Cuneiform An early form of writing with wedge-shaped marks impressed into wet clay with a stylus, primarily by ancient mesopotamians
Inlay To set pieces of material or materials into a surface to form a design.
Register A device used in systems of spatial definition. In relief sculpture, the placement of self-contained bands of reliefs in a vertical arrangement.
Votive Figure An image created as a devotional offering to a deity.
Convention A traditional way of representing forms
Cylinder Seal A small cylindrical stone decorated with an incised image. When rolled onto soft clay or wax, the resulting raised patter or design served in Mesopotamia and Indus Valley cultures as an identifying signature.
Lost-Wax Casting A method of casting metal such a bronze. Wax mold, covered in clay and plaster, fired, melts wax, leaves hollow form, Metal poured, solid metal form remains.
Stele of Naram-Sin Akkadian 2250 BCE -Larger than everyone else -Higher up and closer to the top -Stamping on something (showing victory/dominance) -Mimicking the strength of the mountain
Votive Figure of Gudea Sumerian 2090 BCE -Big eyes mean attentive and always gazing at the gods -Diorite, imported igneous metamorphic rock -Powerful, strong, but calm arm -Focused eyes -Type of fur head piece -Holding life-giving water
Stele of Hammurabi Babylon 1750 BCE -Seated is more powerful (Shamash Sun God/God of Justice -The god hands over divine set of laws to Hammurabi -First written legal code -Uniform code of justice throughout the state
Palace Complex of Assurnaspirpal II Assyria 875 BCE -The Lion Hunt reliefs: Assert physical power by taking down so many lions
Ishtar Gate Neo-Babylonian
Palette of Narmer Early Dynastic Egypt, 2700 BCE -Composite Pose -Registers ---Horizontal Bands ---Prevents perspective -Bludgeoning stance (violence) -Crowns (Upper/Lower) show unification of Egypt
Sphinx Khafre's head and headdress on lion body -Shows intelligence of humans plus ferocity of animals
Ka Statue -Old Kingdom Egypt 2500 BCE -Nemes (headdress) -Falcon on Back (Horus) -Lotus/Papyrus (Upper/Lower) -False Beard Shendyt (pleaded kilt)
Ramesses II Statue -Size and weight largest they had seen 8'-9' tall 7 tons -Society built it in process -Kingship convinced his people about his victories
Imperialism Spirit of empire, extension of national rule over foreign lands and the active acquisition of distant lands. Unifies different parts of an empire to secure and regulate defense, commerce, and communication
Orientalism Trait, style, character of the Orient. Western's representation of the Orient, usually stereotyped and exoticized.
abstract art art that does not attempt to describe the appearance of visible forms but rather to transform them into stylized patterns or to alter them in conformity to ideals.
amphora ancient Greek or Roman jar for storing oil or wine, with an egg-shaped body and two curved handles
Archaic smile The curved lips of an ancient Greek statue in the period c. 600-480 BCE, usually interpreted as a way of animating facial features.
architrave The bottom element in an entablature, beneath the frieze and the cornice.
black-figure A technique of ancient Greek ceramic decoration in which black figures are painted on a red clay ground.
cameo Gemstone, clay, glass, or shell having layers of color, carved in low relief to create an image and ground of different colors.
canon of proportions A set of ideal mathematical ratios in art based on measurements, as in the proportional relationships between the basic elements of the human body.
cella The principal interior room at the center of a Greek or Roman temple within which the cult statue was usually housed.
classicism -Classical: the art and architecture of ancient Greece and Rome -Classicism: Any aspect of later art reminiscent of the rule and examples of ancient Greece and Rome. Also, any art aspiring to the qualities of restraint, balance, and rational order.
column An architectural element used for support and or decoration. Consists of a rounded or polygonal vertical shaft placed on a base and topped by a decorative capital.
composition The overall arrangement, organizing design, or structure of a work of art.
contrapposto Italian term meaning "set against," used to describe the Classical convention of representing human figures with opposing alternations of tension and relaxation on either side of a central axis to imbue figures with a sense of the potential for movement.
cornice The uppermost section of a Classical entablature. More generally, a horizontally projecting element found at the top of a building wall or pedestal.
dome A rounded vault, usually over a circular space. Consists of a curved Masonry and can vary in shape form hemispherical to bulbous to ovoidal.
elevation The arrangement, proportions, and details of any vertical side or face of a building.
entablature In the Classical orders, the horizontal elements above the columns and capitals. The entablature consists of, form bottom to top, and architrave, a frieze, and a cornice.
facade The face or front wall of a building.
frieze The middle element of an entablature, between the architrave and the cornice. Usually decorated with sculpture, painting, moldings.
hydria A large ancient Greek or Roman jar with three handles (horizontal ones at both sides and one vertical at the back), used for storing water.
idealization A process in art through which artists stove to make their forms and figures attain perfection, based on pervading cultural values and/or their own personal ideals.
intuitive perspective A method of giving the impression of recession by visual instinct, not by the use of an overall system or program.
kore An Archaic Greek stature of a young woman.
kouros An Archaic Greek statue of a young man or boy.
krater An ancient Greek vessel for mixing wine and water, with many subtypes that each have a distinct shape.
kylix A shallow ancient Greek cup, used for drinking, with a wide mouth and small handles near the rim.
lekythoi A slim ancient Greek oil vase with one handle and a narrow mouth.
metope The carved or painted rectangular panel between the triglyphs of a doric frieze.
modeling In painting, the process of creating the illusion of three dimensionality on a two dimensional surface by use of light and shade. In sculpture, the process of molding a three dimensional form out of a malleable substance.
mosaic Image formed by arranging small colored stone or glass pieces (tesserae) and affixing them to a hard, stable surface.
oculus In architecture, a circular opening. Usually found either as windows or at the apex of a dome. When at the top of a dome, an oculus is either open to the sky or covered by a decorative exterior lantern.
olpe Any ancient Greek vessel without a spout.
pediment A triangular gable found over major architectural elements such as Classical Greek porticos, windows, or doors. Formed by an entablature and the ends of a sloping roof or a ranking cornice.
peplos A body-length garment established as typical attire for women in ancient Greece.
peristyle In Greek architecture, a surrounding colonnade. A peristyle building is surrounded on the exterior by a colonnade. Also, a peristyle court is an open colonnade courtyard, often having a pool and garden.
porch or portico The covered, protruding entrance on the exterior of a building supported by a colonnade.
red-figure A technique of ancient Greek ceramic decoration characterized by red clay-colored figures on a black background. The figures are reserved against a painted ground and details are drawn, not engraved.
rhyton A vessel in the shape of a figure or an animal, used for drinking or pouring liquids on special occasions.
slip A mixture of clay and water applied to a ceramic object as a final decorative coat. Also a solution that binds different parts of a vessel together, such as the handle and the main body.
symposium An elite gathering of wealthy and powerful men in ancient Greece that focused principally on wine, music, poetry, conversation, games, and love making.
tesserae Small pieces of stone, glass, or other object that are pieced together with many others to create a mosaic.
triglyph Rectangular block between the metopes of a Doric frieze. Identified by the three carved vertical grooves, which approximate the appearance of the end of wooden beams.
verism Style in which artists concern themselves with describing the exterior likeness of an object or person usually by rendering its visible details in a finely executed, meticulous manner.
white-ground A type of ancient Greek pottery in which the background color of the object was painted with slip that turns white in the firing process. Figures and details were added by painting on or incising into this slip. White ground wares were pop. Classical urns
Warrior Krater Mycenaean, 1200 BCE
Funerary Krater Geometric Period, Greek, 750 BCE
Olpe Orientalizing Period, Corinthian, 650 BCE
Ajax and Achilles Playing a Game Exekias, Archaic Period, Greek, 550 BCE
Metropolitan Kouros Archaic Period, Greek, 550 BCE
Peplos Kore Archaic Period, Greek, 550 BCE
Death of Sarpedon Euphronios and Euxitheos, Archaic Period, Greek, 550 BCE
Kritios Boy Early Classical Period, Greek, 480 BCE
Riace Warrior Early Classical Period, Greek, 460 BCE
Parthenon Iktinos and Kallikrates, Acropolis, High Classical Period, Greek, 440 BCE
East Pediment Frieze Parthenon, Acropolis, High Classical Period, Greek, 440 BCE
Lapith Fight a Centaur Parthenon, Acropolis, High Classical Period, Greek, 440 BCE
Horsemen Procession, Parthenon, Acropolis, High Classical Period, Greek, 440 BCE
Spear Bearer Polykleitos, High Classical Period, Greek, 440 BCE
Nike Adjusting her Sandal High Classical Period, Greek, 400 BCE
Woman and Maid Style of the Achilles Painter, High Classical Period, Greek, 440 BCE
Alexander the Great Confronts Darius III at the Battle of Issos (copy of Greek wall painting ca. 300 BCE), Pompeii, Roman Imperial, 50 CE
Dying Gallic Trumpeter Pergamon, Hellenistic Period, 200 BCE
Reconstructed Altar Pergamon, Hellenistic Period, 150 BCE
Athena Attacking the Giants Pergamon, Hellenistic Period, 150 BCE
Laocoon and His Sons Hagesandros, Polydoros, and Athenodoros, Hellenistic Period, Greek, 150 BCE
Aphrodite of Melos (aka Venus of Milo) Hellenistic Period, Greek, 150 BCE
Head of a Man (“Brutus”) Roman Republic, 300 BCE
Patrician Carrying Portrait Busts of Two Ancestors Roman Republic, 50 BCE
Denarius with Portrait of Julius Caesar Roman Republic, 50 BCE
Augustus of Primaporta Roman Republic, 50 CE
The Ara Pacis of Augustae Roman Republic, 50 CE
Imperial Procession Ara Pacis of Augustae, Roman Republic, 50 CE
Gemma Augustea Roman Republic, 50 CE
Cityscape, House of Synistor Roman Republic, 50 CE
Portrait of a Married Couple Pompeii, Roman Republic, 50 CE
Pantheon Roman Imperial, 120 CE
Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius Roman Imperial, 175 CE
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