30 Masterpieces of the Ancient World

Watch 30 Masterpieces of the Ancient World

  • 2013
  • 1 Season

In the world of art there are very influential pieces that have given great inspiration to many artists to come. There are many of these pieces that trace their origin all the way back to ancient times. In this television program, you will be able to take a look at 30 masterpieces from the ancient world. These masterpieces will give you inspiration and insight into the greats from times long gone. These masterpieces have shaped the world of art as we know it today, and art would not be the same without these 30 pieces. These pieces of art will be famous for many more years to come.

30 Masterpieces of the Ancient World
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Seasons
How Ancient Art Reverberates
36. How Ancient Art Reverberates
April 5, 2013
Revisit some of the masterpieces you have seen in this course, compare them to contemporary works that draw from ancient sources, and review some of the universal themes you have explored--especially animals, fertility, death, and rulership. These themes bind humans in nearly every civilization, and the themes are reflected in its art.
What Can We Learn from Ancient Art?
35. What Can We Learn from Ancient Art?
April 5, 2013
What can ancient art teach us about our place in the cosmos? What do we find so beautiful about ancient art? And how does it compare to contemporary art? Does art need to have a function? Ponder these questions and more as you reflect on your journey through the world of ancient art.
Ancient Andean Textiles
34. Ancient Andean Textiles
April 5, 2013
Shift your attention to Andean textiles. These masterpieces combined amazing technical virtuosity with supreme aesthetic taste. You'll be amazed by the labor that went into these luxurious pieces, yet what's most striking here is that abstract art--a modern innovation in Western art--was developed in the Andes more than 1,000 years ago.
Ancient Andean Ceramics
33. Ancient Andean Ceramics
April 5, 2013
Many societies in this course have used art to communicate ideas, especially state propaganda. But Andean elites took a different approach. Rather than creating massive stone sculptures, artists made usable, practical objects. This lecture shows you some of the beautiful pots created in a culture isolated from the Western tradition.
Moche Earspools-Miniature Masterpieces
32. Moche Earspools-Miniature Masterpieces
April 5, 2013
Go inside the Moche society in ancient Peru and marvel at the beautiful metal jewelry discovered in the Sipan tombs. Beyond the beauty and the sophisticated metalwork of the Moche earspools, the tomb of Sipan gives us a window into Moche society--including sacrificial ceremonies once believed to be purely mythical.
Aztec Calendar Stone
31. Aztec Calendar Stone
April 5, 2013
Many people are familiar with the iconic Aztec calendar stone, but few understand what it means. Discover the story of one of the most famous excavated objects from the ancient world. Why is it a masterpiece? What does it tell us about the Aztecs? What cataclysms does it portray?
Colossal Stone Statue of Coatlicue
30. Colossal Stone Statue of Coatlicue
April 5, 2013
Aztec art has some of the most skilled, complex stone carvings in the world, yet it is difficult to understand. Professor McDonald explains the significance of the colossal sculpture of Coatlicue, the goddess known as Serpent Skirt. Find out what art historians think this terrifying sculpture means and how it fits into the myths of Aztec civilization.
TeotihuacÃÂán-Temple of the Feathered Serpent
29. TeotihuacÃÂán-Temple of the Feathered Serpent
April 5, 2013
Venture north to the city of Teotihuac'án, the "place of the gods." Here, the Temple of the Feathered Serpent is a mysterious pyramid that may contain a royal grave. You'll analyze the pyramid's repeating carved serpents and investigate one of the most enigmatic cultures in the Americas.
Carved Stone Lintels of YaxchilÃán
28. Carved Stone Lintels of YaxchilÃán
April 5, 2013
Blood sacrifices. Sacred visions. Poisonous animals. Artwork from the Maya kingdom of Yaxchil'án may shock us, but the visceral and expressive detail carved into these stones is unlike anything in Western art. This riveting lecture takes you into a truly different world of self-sacrifice and hallucinogenic trances, but a world that has important lessons for our own.
Sarcophagus Cover of Pakal at Palenque
27. Sarcophagus Cover of Pakal at Palenque
April 5, 2013
Nestled in the foothills of southern Mexico is one of the most magical and hauntingly beautiful archaeological sites in the world. Here, one of the richest tombs in the New World was discovered, and its marvelous artifacts--particularly King Pakal's sarcophagus cover--provide insights into the myths and religion of the ancient Maya.
Colossal Olmec Heads
26. Colossal Olmec Heads
April 5, 2013
Next, your journey takes you halfway around the world to Mesoamerica to explore the unusual Olmec culture. Here in the low-lying Gulf Coast of Mexico, 17 colossal heads offer a startling look at a fascinating and intricate culture--what anthropologists call a "pristine civilization" for its emergence in isolation from the rest of the world.
Borobudur-Ancient Buddhist Stupa
25. Borobudur-Ancient Buddhist Stupa
April 5, 2013
Continue your investigation of Buddhism by turning to the largest Buddhist monument in the world, Borobudur. As you study the terraces of this "cosmic mountain," you'll see superb carved reliefs that tell stories about the Buddha's life, humanity's place in the cosmos, and the path to nirvana.
Great Stupa at Sanchi
24. Great Stupa at Sanchi
April 5, 2013
Delve into the world of Buddhism and the Great Stupa at Sanchi, the most ancient stone structure in India and the only one that supposedly houses the ashes of Buddha. Take a tour of a spiritual monument, protected by impressive gates, and see how the sculptural reliefs and pilgrimage instruct visitors in the teachings of the Buddha.
Bronzes of Ancient China
23. Bronzes of Ancient China
April 5, 2013
Move east to the Shang and Chou dynasties in ancient China, where bronze vessels cast with astonishing technical skill and artistry are the defining artifact. Excavated in 1976, the royal tomb of Fu Hao revealed a trove of precious bronze vessels, which would have been used in ancestor worship, for ceremonial meals, and to support the authority of kings.
Column of Trajan
22. Column of Trajan
April 5, 2013
This stunning 125-foot-high monument is truly a marvel, combining a feat of engineering with the skill of sculptors who crafted a 650-foot-long story that spirals upward from the base. The column commemorates the successful military campaigns of the Roman emperor Trajan and offers a wealth of information about Roman warfare, religious rites, and even building techniques.
Laocoön--Three-Dimensional Narrative
21. Laocoön--Three-Dimensional Narrative
April 5, 2013
Contemplate one of the most mesmerizing sculptures in the world. Beyond the emotional expressiveness, the writhing snakes, and the doomed children, "Laocoön" has a complicated history that reflects its importance and its genius. As a hallmark of Hellenistic art, the beauty of this piece lies not only in its composition, but in its many interpretations.
Aphrodite of Knidos
20. Aphrodite of Knidos
April 5, 2013
The Greeks offered more than just action and warfare in their art. This lecture examines the first female nude in the tradition, a sculpture of Aphrodite, the femme fatale of Mount Olympus. Whereas Greeks would have considered it unseemly to represent a nude woman, Aphrodite was a goddess and could be portrayed as sensuous, beautiful, and alluring.
Greek Vase Painting-Death of Sarpedon
19. Greek Vase Painting-Death of Sarpedon
April 5, 2013
Visit the fields of Troy as phalanxes of Greeks advance upon the Trojans. There, according to the Iliad, Sarpedon was killed by Patroclus, a scene memorialized in Euphronios's red-figure vase painting. Learn how artists represented death and what techniques artists used to tell a coherent story on a round vase.
Parthenon Marbles-Metopes and Frieze
18. Parthenon Marbles-Metopes and Frieze
April 5, 2013
Plunge into the mythological battles of the Parthenon in Athens. The metopes, pediment sculptures, and frieze dramatize Greek myths, narrate battles, and are sublimely beautiful examples of Greek sculpture. Professor McDonald explains the context for these works and offers insight into the glory and pride of ancient Greece.
Discobolus-Motion in Sculpture
17. Discobolus-Motion in Sculpture
April 5, 2013
Go back to a time when the Olympic Games were a sacred event. The famous discus thrower represents a new development in the history of sculpture because of the way it shows motion. This lecture delves into the sports culture of ancient Greece and reveals the technique behind the drama of Myron's sculpture.
Kritios Boy-Idealized Athletic Youth
16. Kritios Boy-Idealized Athletic Youth
April 5, 2013
Travel to ancient Greece and trace the development of realism in sculpture through the Archaic period. The "Kritios Boy" represents a leap forward and seems more "alive" than Egyptian sculptures, partly because of the development of contrapposto and partly due to cultural differences in artistic taste between the Greeks and the Egyptians.
Tomb Painting of Nefertari
15. Tomb Painting of Nefertari
April 5, 2013
Look at a masterpiece of painting that lay hidden for more than 3,000 years and was never meant to be seen by human eyes again. Queen Nefertari was one of the most loved and celebrated women in the history of Egypt, and this lecture takes you on a tour through the chambers of her grand tomb.
Tutankhamun's Mask
14. Tutankhamun's Mask
April 5, 2013
You've no doubt seen images of King Tut's mask, but what does it represent? Why is it such a magnificent work of art? Unpack the secrets of Egypt's famous boy king and find out why the treasures of his tomb survived.
Statue of Khafre-Rebirth of a King
13. Statue of Khafre-Rebirth of a King
April 5, 2013
Why did the Egyptians go to such great lengths to prepare bodies after death? They loved life, and the grand tombs and sculptures were a way to capture the soul for eternal life. Reflect on the statue of King Khafre, which communicates strength and power--and signifies so much more than what is first evident.
Palette of Narmer-The Conquering King
12. Palette of Narmer-The Conquering King
April 5, 2013
To maintain social cohesion, ancient kings had to justify their power through ideological control, and no culture was better than Egypt at creating art to establish the underpinnings of kingship. This first lecture on Egypt considers the Palette of Narmer, a superb carving that embodies the unification of the state and established an ideology of kingship for the next 3,000 years.
The Ancient City of Persepolis
11. The Ancient City of Persepolis
April 5, 2013
Turn to the Persian Empire, one of the grandest civilizations in the ancient world. Survey the history of Persia from King Cyrus to Alexander the Great, then study the city of Persepolis. Its construction, its palaces, and its many relief sculptures all showed the breadth and power of the king.
Ishtar Gate and Processional Way
10. Ishtar Gate and Processional Way
April 5, 2013
Continue your study of ancient Babylon by reflecting on Nebuchadnezzar's city gates and processional way. These impressive feats of architecture and engineering inspire awe through their sheer size. The animals on the gate--lions, bulls, and the snake-dragon--were meant to protect the city by intimidating those who would bring harm to the community.
Queen of the Night-Babylonian Goddess
9. Queen of the Night-Babylonian Goddess
April 5, 2013
Cursed in the Bible as "the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth," Babylon is much more fascinating and strange than you might think. Examine the "Queen of the Night," a nude woman who is part animal and part human. This curious mixture of the erotic and the terrifying creates a mesmerizing masterpiece filled with mystery.
Neo-Assyrian Palace Reliefs
8. Neo-Assyrian Palace Reliefs
April 5, 2013
Jump to the 1st millennium B.C. and the mighty Assyrian Empire. The palace reliefs reveal a warlike society in which the king reinforces order, as revealed in the famous Lion Hunt scenes. As he battles the lions, the king proves he is greater in power than the threatening beast and all that it represents. The reliefs demonstrate the apogee of artistic skill in the Assyrian court.
Victory Stela of Naram-Sin of Akkad
7. Victory Stela of Naram-Sin of Akkad
April 5, 2013
What makes a king a god? Ponder the visual propaganda behind Naram-Sin's victory stela. After learning the story of this Akkadian king, you'll study this monument's artistic innovation--its realism, its unified composition, and its new approach to narrative. Additional Akkadian art provides perspective on this era's radical artistic changes.
Great Ziggurat at Ur-Ancient Architecture
6. Great Ziggurat at Ur-Ancient Architecture
April 5, 2013
With the magnificent ziggurats, ancient people reached for the sky, which was the domain of the deities. Learn about Nanna, the Sumerian moon god, and experience the architectural grandeur at the heart of Sumerian daily life. While wars, climate, and looting have wrought their damage on the ziggurat at Ur, enough remains to tell a fascinating story.
Ram Caught in a Thicket
5. Ram Caught in a Thicket
April 5, 2013
Explore the fertility theme in the first 3-D sculpture of the course. "Ram Caught in a Thicket" was excavated from the Great Death Pit at Ur. In addition to telling us about royal burials, the sculpture tells us about the society's wealth, its relationship with animals, and the religious role of the rulers and lords.
The Standard of Ur-Role of the King
4. The Standard of Ur-Role of the King
April 5, 2013
Turn to the masterpieces of the ancient Sumerians in the city of Ur, the "Cradle of Civilization." No one knows whether the mysterious Royal Standard of Ur is actually a standard--or even royal--but it tells us a great deal about the technology, social structure, and the dazzling riches of this society.
The Uruk Vase-Vision of an Ordered World
3. The Uruk Vase-Vision of an Ordered World
April 5, 2013
In Mesopotamia, writing was developed 5,000 years ago, alongside the first narrative art, which set the stage for everything that followed in the Western art historical tradition. The registers on the Uruk Vase tell the story of civilization and reveal a hierarchical world as seen by one of the most complex societies of the era.
Ancient Cave Art-Chauvet, France
2. Ancient Cave Art-Chauvet, France
April 5, 2013
Step back more than 30,000 years as you view some of the earliest known art in the world-- a fabulous gallery of animals painted on the cave walls at Chauvet. These paintings tell us something profound about the Paleolithic mind and force us to reconsider our own ideas about "primitive" art.
Where Do We Come From?
1. Where Do We Come From?
April 5, 2013
What are the common themes of ancient art? Why is ancient art relevant today? What makes a masterpiece? Before you begin your journey through the world of ancient art, consider why ancient art matters, what it tells us about different cultures, and its impact on and similarity to our world today.
Description

In the world of art there are very influential pieces that have given great inspiration to many artists to come. There are many of these pieces that trace their origin all the way back to ancient times. In this television program, you will be able to take a look at 30 masterpieces from the ancient world. These masterpieces will give you inspiration and insight into the greats from times long gone. These masterpieces have shaped the world of art as we know it today, and art would not be the same without these 30 pieces. These pieces of art will be famous for many more years to come.

30 Masterpieces of the Ancient World is a series that is currently running and has 1 seasons (36 episodes). The series first aired on April 5, 2013.

Where to Watch 30 Masterpieces of the Ancient World

30 Masterpieces of the Ancient World is available for streaming on the The Great Courses website, both individual episodes and full seasons. You can also watch 30 Masterpieces of the Ancient World on demand at Amazon Prime, Amazon and Hoopla.

  • Premiere Date
    April 5, 2013