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COURSE NAME: "World Art I: Visual Culture of the Ancient World"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Spring 2021

EMAIL: inhansen@johncabot.edu
HOURS: TTH 1:30 PM 2:45 PM

This survey course focuses on the art, archaeology and architecture of the Mediterranean world, roughly between 2500 BC – AD 300. The course investigates the material culture of the diverse cultural groups that shaped this cosmopolitan world: Sumerians, Assyrians, Minoans/Mycenaeans, Egyptians, Greeks, Etruscans, Persians, Italics and Romans. Special attention will be given to the interconnectivity and dynamic relationship of inspiration between these cultures. The aim is for a firm contextual understanding of the works examined, and of the cultural, political and historical aspects that shaped these. The course will also assist students in cultivating basic art-historical skills, in particular description, stylistic analysis, and iconographic and iconological analysis.

Focused on the material culture of the ancient Mediterranean (approximately 2500 BC - AD 300), the course investigates the material culture of the diverse cultural groups that shaped this world: Sumerians, Assyrians, Minoans/Myceneans, Egyptians, Greeks, Etruscans, Persians, Italics and Romans.

The course establishes a nuanced appreciation of the cultural characteristics and value systems of these peoples and how they developed over time. An important focus of investigation is the cultural interconnectivity between these and the dynamic relationships of inspiration within a cosmopolitan and multicultural world.

Thematic discussions of religious and urban topography, temple architecture, domestic space, religious votives, and "self-representation" will investigate the articulation of civic, social and individual identities, and the responses to new inspirations and political structures.


The course will develop anunderstanding of salient developments in the history of the ancient world and allow student to identify major monuments of the various peoples and cultures of the ancient Mediterranean

The course will develop abilities to analyze art and architecture as primary sources, to describing and contextualize material culture, and to consider this over time and across the Mediterranean world

The course will develop an understanding of historical and cultural developments as affected by cultural factors, and foster an awareness of dynamic cultural interactions

The course will develop powers of expression: Organization of material, contextual and nuanced discussion, focused presentation of data, public speaking abilities, participation in debates

The course will develop critical thinking and interpretation: Reasoned consideration and evaluation of evidence and methods, interpretation of arguments presented, reflection on context and impact

Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
There is no single set textbook for the course. However, three different volumes will act as such to ensure that you can read in advance of class discussions.For details, see below .  
Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
A full bibliography for the course will be provided at the start of the course .For core bibliographic works see below .. 

Book TitleAuthorPublisherISBN numberLibrary Call NumberComments
Further reading suggestions for the course will be provided at the start of the course .... 
Participation and acacdemic professionalismContribution to the academic milieu of the class: contribution to class discussions, willingness to share own observations, and collaborative behavior5%
Two visual analyses exercisesThe assignments are designed to develop skills of independent observation, visual analysis and research. In all, three individual works of your choice from material discussed in class should be described and researched. Further details and guidelines will be provided. 20%
Research paper Short research paper: independent research, ability to evaluate and interpret materials and their inherent interests, and capability for discussing these in a nuanced manner in writing25%
Final examIdentifications and discussions of individual works, term definitions, analytical essays 30%
Mid-term examIdentifications and comparison of individual works20%

ASuperior work directly addresses the question or problem raised; provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information; demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory; and has an element of originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading.
BGood work is highly competent; directly addresses the question or problem raised; demonstrates some ability to critically evaluate theory and concepts and relate them to practice; and discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture and reference material. The work provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CSatisfactory work provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings only; it may have some significant structural flaw, absence of information or research background, or too casual and imprecise a treatment, or contain only a minimum of interpretation.
DPoor work lacks a coherent grasp of the material; fails to support its argument with sufficient evidence; indicates a hasty or unconsidered preparation, and/or fails to fulfil the assignment in some way; omits important information and includes irrelevant points.
FFailure work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question; most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.


• You are expected to participate in all scheduled classes. Absences and late arrival will be noted, and may affect your grade.
• You are expected to have dealt with food, drink and bathroom needs before class.
• Make-up work is not offered, except in exceptional circumstances and after consultation with the Dean of Academic Affairs

Absences from class due to the observance of a religious holiday will normally be excused. Students who will have to miss class to observe a religious holiday should notify the instructor by the end of the Add/Drop period to make prior arrangements for making up any work that will be missed.

Students who will be absent from a major exam must notify the Dean’s Office prior to that exam: a major exam (midterm or final) cannot be made up without the permission of the Dean’s Office. Permission will be granted only when the absence is caused by a serious impediment or grave situation, such as a documented illness, hospitalization or funeral service for immediate family. Absences due to conflicts, such as job interviews, family celebrations, travel difficulties, student misunderstandings or personal convenience, will not be excused. 

Changes to / cancellation of class
•     Changes, additional course information, etc will be posted on MyJCU. Please check this regularly and, certainly, in advance of each class.
•     In case of unavoidable cancellations of class, notification will be posted at the front desk at both Tiber and Guarini campuses. A suitable date and time for a make-up class will subsequently be established.

Revision aid
• An overview of works studied, as well as themed questions to help you organise your notes and gain an overview of the material, will be posted on Moodle/MyJCU in advance of each exam.

As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.


Details of further reading suggestions as well as a relevant bibliography for the course will be provided at the start of the semester

Core bibliographic works for the course:

Aldred, C. (1980) Egyptian Art in the Days of the Pharaohs
Borg, B. (ed.) (2015) A Companion to Roman Art
Clarke, J. (1991) The Houses of Roman Italy, 100 BC – AD 250.
Ewald, B.C. and Noreña, C.F. (2010) (eds) The Emperor and Rome.
Galinsky, K. (1996) Augustan Culture, an Interpretative Introduction.
Haynes, S. (2000) Etruscan Civilization: A Cultural History
Hurwitt, J.M. (1999) The Athenian Acropolis.

Kleiner, D.E.E. (1992) Roman Sculpture.
Liverani, M. (2014) The Ancient Near East: History, Society and Economy.

Osborne, R. (1998) Archaic and Classical Art.
Podany, A. (2014) The Ancient Near East: A very Short Introduction.

Reade, J. (1998) Assyrian Sculpture.
Riggs, C. (2014) Ancient Egyptian Art and Architecture: a very short introduction.
Robins, G. (1997) The Art of Ancient Egypt.

Smith, C. (2014) The Etruscans. A very Short Introduction.
Spivey, N. (1997) Etruscan Art.

Stewart, P. (2008) The Social History of Roman Art.

Three different books will act as textbooks to ensure up-to-day information on material across the course
Barringer, J. (2014) The Art and Archaeology of Ancient Greece. CUP. [N5630.B27 / eBook]
Bourke, S. (ed.) (2008) The Middle East. The Cradle of Civilization Revealed. Thames and Hudson. [DS62.2 .M53 2008]
Tuck, S. (2005) A History of Roman Art. Wiley-Blackwell [eBook]


Week 1 - Representing the world 5000-1500 BC

1. Introduction to the course and to Rome
Themes/works         Course requirements & logistics.

2. Agriculture and technology
Far East: Zhang and Zhou (China); Jomon (Japan); Harappa, Indus civilization. Describing art

Week 2 - City-states and kings (c 3000-2300 BC)

Writing and city-states
Near East: Mesopotamia. Standard of Ur, Ziggurat of Uruk, tomb of Puabi, cuneiform writing, harps and figurines
reading:           Bourke 2008: 58-59, 62-77, 96-97, 102-3 

4. Cities and rulers

Egypt: pre/early dynastic and old kingdom; Europe: Cyclades. Funerary architecture: pyramids and sphinx at Gizeh, sculpture, reliefs and painting; Cycladic figurines
Reading : Aldred 1980: 32-40 

Week 3 - Cities and administration
(c 2000-1000 BC)

Palace and city – religion
Egypt and Europe: Middle Kingdom; Minoans. The human figure and the natural world: wall painting and pottery; Knossos, Thera
Reading: Barringer 2014: 18-39 

Royalty – leadership and administration
Egypt and Europe: New Kingdom, Myceneans. Hatshepsut funerary temple; Amarna Period; painted scenes
Reading: Barringer 2014: 39-61 

Week 4 - Polis, colony and peer-polity relationships (c 1000-700 BC)

7. Image and narrative
Themes/works         Europe: Geometric and Orientalizing Greece. Writing and technologies, depicting myth. Dipylon krater/amphora; votive figurines; Lefkandi heroon; loutherion, Thebes; ‘Chigi olpe’; Aristonothos krater
Reading: Barringer 2014: 62-76, 89-97, 104-19 

8. Colonies
Themes/works         Europe: Orientalizing and Archaic Magna Graecia and Greece. Pithekoussai (settlement); Poseidonia/Paestum (city and temples); Temple of Artemis, Corcyra, temple plans
Reading: Barringer 2014: 128-40 

Week 5 - Cities and aristocracies (700-600 BC)

International elite values
Themes/works         Europe: Orientalizing and Archaic Etruria. International trade and exchange of technology; grave goods assemblages; status of women; Pyrgi sanctuary; Portonaccio sanctuary, Veii; Temple of Jupiter, Rome 
Reading: Tuck 2005: 21-27 

10.  Aristocratic and mercantile elites
Themes/works         Europe: Archaic and Classical Etruria, Latium and Magna Graecia. Painted tombs, Tarquinia; rock-cut tombs, Caere; Couple sarcophagi, Caere
Reading: Tuck 2005: 27-44, 49-59

Week 6 - Changing social mobility (600-500 BC)

11. Royal pursuits and heroic ideals
Themes/works         Near East and Far East: Babylonia and Assyria. Palace of Ashurnasirpal; epic of Gilgamesh; royal ideals: palace structure and decoration
Reading: Bourke 2008: 168-77, 186-89, 192-93

12.  New styles of government: tyranny and democracy
Themes/works         Europe: Archaic Greece. Kouros and kore figures, experimentation with movement; Black-figure and Red-figure pottery; ‘hekatompedon temple’
Reading: Barringer 2014: 97-104, 149-59 

Week 7 - Visual experience – viewers and architecture (600-400 BC)

13. Civic and Pan-Hellenic sanctuaries
Themes/works         Europe: Archaic and Classical Greece. Heraion (Perachora, Argos), Epidauros, Delphi, Olympia
Reading: Barringer 2014: 143-9, 204-14 

14.   Polis and palace 
Themes/works         Europe: Archaic and Classical Greece; Near East: Persia. Athens: agora and theatres; Persepolis palace and apadana

Reading: Bourke 2008: 216-19, 228-33, 236-7 

Week 8 - Visual experience – viewers and architecture (400 BC)

15.  Acropolis, Athens
Themes/works         Europe: Classical Greece. Parthenon temple and decoration; Erechtheion; Temple of Nike
Reading: Barringer 2014: 225-48 

16.  Mid-term Exam
Details will uploaded to Moodle

Week 9 – Visual experience – viewers and sculpture (400-300 BC)

17. Sculpture

Europe: Classical Greece. Doryphoros (Polykleitos); Aphrodite of Knidos (Praxiteles); Apoxyomenos (Lysippos); bronze- and stone working technique
Barringer 2014: 220-5 

18. ‘World’ cities and ruler representation
Themes/works         Europe: Hellenistic world. Depicting kings, making a new ‘world’ city. Portrait of Alexander the Great; mausoleum of Mausolos; Pergamon
Reading: Barringer 2014: 349-64 

Week 10 – Hellenistic Mediterranean (c 300-100 BC)

19.  Hellenistic Italy 

Europe: Hellenistic Italy, Egypt 2nd-1st century BC. Sanctuary of Fortuna Primigenia, Praeneste; House of the Faun, Pompeii, Sarcophagus of Lars Pulena, statue of Aule Metele; Theatre of Pompey, Rome; Paris-Munich relief
Reading: Tuck 2005: 80-81, 86-88, 95-97 

20.  Hellenistic Rome 
Themes/works         Europe: 1st-century BC Rome. Portico of Metellus, Theatre of Pompey, Forum of Caesar, Paris-Munich relief, statue of general, Tivoli
Reading: Tuck 2005: 91-94, 108-9 

Week 11 - Benefaction and politics (50 BC – AD 200)

21.  Rome: new style of government   
Themes/works        Europe: 1st-century BC/AD Rome. Veristic and Augustan portraiture (Tivoli general, Prima Porta Augustus); Ara Pacis Augustae; Forum of Augustus
Reading: Tuck 2005: 108-11, 114-127 

22.  Emperor and Rome 
Themes/works         Roman Empire: defining a Roman world, depictions of non-Romans, depictions of warfare and victories, 1st-2nd century AD. Colosseum, Arch of Titus, Column of Trajan, Column of Marcus Aurelius (Rome)
Reading: Tuck 2005: 180-85, 201-2, 213, 215-16, 229-30, 257-8 

Week 12 - Cosmopolitan Empire (AD 100-200)

23. A Globalized world 
Themes/works        Roman Empire: cosmopolitan styles, international influences. 2nd century AD. Temple of Venus and Roma (Rome), Olympeion (Athens), mummy portraits (Fayum Egypt), portraiture of Hadrian and Marcus Aurelius
Reading: Tuck 2005: 214-16, 222, 247-51 

24.  Case study: Pompeii

Europe: Pompeii: atrium house, peristyle house, 1st century BC-2nd century AD. Building of Eumachia; House of the Menander, House Sallust, Villa of the Mysteries (Pompeii)
Reading: Tuck 2005: 190-94 

Week 13 - Patrons and viewers (AD 200-400)

25.  Case study: Ostia

Europe: Ostia. Trade as civic identity; the medianum house. Piazzale delle Coporazione (2.7.4); House of the Yellow Walls (3.9.12), Domus of Fortuna Annonaria (5.2.8)
Reading: Tuck 2005: 72, 260-63 

26. Traditional images – new meanings

Europe: 3rd-4th-century AD Rome and Leptis Magna. Portrait of Constantine, Arch of Constantine, Arch of the Argentarii
Reading: Tuck 2005: 287, 341-46, 336-37, 340-44 

Week 14 - Assessment

27. Review
Discussion of course themes 

28. Review

Discussion of course themes 

Week 15 - Final exam

29/30. Final exam

Date, time and place to be announced