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Ancient and Medieval Art

Ancient Art

Ancient art refers to the many types of art produced by the advanced cultures of ancient societies with some form of writing, such as those of ancient China, India, Mesopotamia, Persia, Israel, Egypt, Greece and Rome.”1 The art of pre-literate societies is usually referred to as Prehistoric art. Although some Pre-Columbian cultures developed writing during the centuries before the arrival of Europeans, these works of art are referred to as Pre-Columbian art. 2

Much of the artwork of the ancient world is often found in the form of sculptures, jewellery, coins, weapons, architecture, vases and pottery, carved gems, glass, musical instruments, and mosaics.2

Medieval art

Byzantine Art is the name given to the style of art used in very early Middle Ages. This period is also known as the Dark Ages (410 AD – 1066 AD). This style of art was most often religious, sombre, one- dimensional (lacking shadows and light), and portraits were front-facing and lacking realistic qualities.2

The late Middle Ages saw many advances in art, including brighter colours, massive sculptures, metal work, stained glass windows, a move towards realism, and the use of shadows and light. These advances became known as the gothic art style. Donatello, although considered an early Renaissance artist, began his career at the end of the medieval art era and quickly perfected the gothic art style as a young man.2

Gothic architecture also flourished in the medieval era. Many cathedrals, abbeys, churches, castles, and palaces in Europe display the pointed arch and ribbed vaults of the gothic period, such as the Notre Dame in Paris.


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Bust of Nefertiti (1345 BC) by Thutmose. This is an ancient work of art.

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A French late Gothic fresco

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The Effects of Good Government (1338) by Ambrogio Lorenzetti. This is a fresco in the City Hall of Siena.




1. Ancient Art. (n.d.). Retrieved January 9, 2013 from Wikipedia the Free Encyclopedia:

2. Ancient Art. (n.d.). Retrieved January 11, 2013 from Wikipedia the Free Encyclopedia:

3. lchin, L.K. (September 20, 2012). Middle Ages Art. Retrieved from


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