Art History GED 240

How would you compare the artistic representations of the Paleolithic period to the Neolithic period?

The Paleolithic Era also called the Old Stone Age was the prehistory period dating back to at least 2.6 million years ago. On the other hand, the Neolithic Era also referred to as the New Stone Age period begun around 10,000 BC and culminated between 4500 and 2000 BC based on different parts of the world. Notably, human art began as early as during the Old Stone Age. During this period, people lived as nomads and a few lived in a cave.  As hunters and gatherers, they often chipped the rocks to make them function better, and this has often been interpreted as art. In both ages, it is believed that humans made art for different purposes, especially ritualistic purposes, although this was more evident during the Neolithic Era. Consistently, we compare the artistic representations of the Paleolithic period to the Neolithic period to get a better understanding of artistic evolution. 

In an overview of the major period, Wilder ascertains that art can last between 20,000 to 50 years based on the rate of cultural change. Art in caves started around 30,000 BC and ended with the Paleolithic Era. During this period, culture changed as fast as possible. Additionally, although people who lived during this era did not know how to read and write, they knew how to paint and sculpt. In Old Stone Age, artists painted pictures of animals in cave walls and sculpted human forms and animals on stone. The art seemed to be a form of a magical ritual, which has been highlighted as an early form of visualization to help hunters in their activity. Compared to the Paleolithic Era, the Neolithic Era had better stone tools and lived in permanent year-round settlements. Their architecture was more concentrated on massive tombs such as the temples, Stonehenge, and the first towns. One notable feature of the artistic representations of the Paleolithic and the Neolithic period is that their art was always detailed, shaded, and highlighted. Additionally, while it is only assumed that the Paleolithic people made art for ritualistic purposes, the intent was more apparent during the Neolithic times.


Wilder, J. B. (2007). Art history for dummies. Hoboken, N.J: Wiley.

Discuss some of the building innovations of the Romans

Similar to sculpture, the Roman architecture borrowed heavily from the Greeks and the Etruscans. However, although the two cultures heavily influenced Roman architecture, their functional needs sometimes differed, which resulted in innovations. In particular, the Romans were not attached to the ideal forms inherited from the Greeks and Etruscans, and instead extended these ideas to develop structures that are more functional. In light of this, we discuss some of the building innovations of the Romans. 

Ideally, one of the most notable building innovations by the Romans was concrete. It is important to note that the Romans did not have the convenient marble quarries of the Greeks. In place of the marbles, the most common construction material was soft volcanic stones, which were later developed into concrete (Sear, 2014). The Roman concrete material was almost similar to modern-day cement and made buildings become beautiful in structure and decoration. The concrete was advancement from the carved stone or wood that were initially used by the Romans. Some of the other innovations made by the Romans included the following. The dome, which was around even before the Romans and was in two types – the Tholos, which was an underground domed tomb stacked with concentric stone slabs and the Tumulus, which was constructed by rough stones (Rook, 2013). The Romans improved the Dome by increasing the height of the structure through arches placed at the top of the columns and strengthened them through groin vaults and the barrel vaults intersection. The other notable innovation of the Romans was the arch and the vault. Although the Romans did not invent the arch and the vault, they mastered and introduced a new dimension to their structures. Arches as compared to straight beams have the ability to carry more weight and allow longer distances to be spanned without the need for supporting columns. The vaulted roofs were spectacular in design. Along with these innovations, Romans heavily influenced the modern day domestic architecture with their innovations of domestic architecture. For instance, as de (2016) elaborates, the standard Roman Atrium house, which consisted of an entrance, a central room, an office, and a bedroom was almost similar to modern day houses. 


de, H. N. (2016). Roman Domestic Architecture. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 711-729.

Rook, T. (2013). Roman building techniques. Gloucestershire: Amberley.

Sear, F. (2014). Roman architecture. London: Routledge.

How do representations of Buddha differ throughout South and Southeast Asia?

Buddhism, as is known today, is said to have originated from the Gangetic Plains of India and spread across Asia. The religion is said to have been the first missionary religion and its expansion led to the formation of different forms of Buddhism. Abandoning the notion that Buddhism was a singular entity makes the notion of its expansion a complex one. In light of this, we explore the representations of Buddha and their differences in South and Southeast Asia.

Buddhism in South and Southeast Asia developed amidst the local religion that was advanced by beings known as devatas, which meant a space between humans and gods. The result was a rich synchronism of Buddhist practice and the ritual, artistic, and mythic life of the spirit believers. In Southeast Asia Buddhism only arrived with the Indian notions of karma and rebirth and the devata world. In fact, in contemporary Southeast Asia, words such as kinnaras, dandharvas, apsaras, and nagas still exist among the monks and laypeople. Additionally, it is notable that the word devata is found in both South and Southeast Asia Buddhism (Findly, 2016). However, despite the notable similarities, Buddha in the two regions also had profound differences. Firstly, Buddhism in South Asia was present in Sri Lanka, Bhutan, and some areas of India, Nepal, and Bangladesh. As compared to Buddhism in Southeast Asia, Buddha in South Asia was not as successful. On the other hand, Buddhism in Southeast Asia was divided into two main traditions – Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism. In historic times, Mahayana Buddhism was more popular as compared to the Theravada tradition (McGovern, 2017). However, in contemporary society, Theravada is the most popular tradition as compared to Mahayana. Additionally, Buddhism in South Asia ceased to be active although it persisted in some areas such as Sri Lanka (Berkwitz, 2012). The tradition faced also hostilities from Hinduism and Muslim armies, which led to the decline of Buddhism in South Asia. On the other hand, Buddhism in Southeast Asia has continued to flourish and is present in a significant number of countries such as Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, and Singapore among others.


Berkwitz, S. C. (2012). South Asian Buddhism: A Survey. Hoboken: Taylor and Francis.

Findly, E. B. (2016). Devatās, nats, and phii in South and Southeast Asia. New York: Oxford University Press.

McGovern, N. (2017). Esoteric Buddhism in Southeast Asia. DOI: 10.1093/acrefore/9780199340378.013.617

What was the impact of the Black Death on the arts in fourteenth-century Europe

The Black Death or the bubonic plague was a pandemic, which almost wiped out half of Europe’s population in the fourteenth century. The pandemic is perhaps the single greatest human tragedy in history. The impact of this catastrophe was felt in every aspect of medieval life including art. Notably, although therehaves been several scholarly works analyzing the social and medical effects of the Black Death, few analyze how the pandemic affected art in the fourteenth century. In light of this, we will take a comprehensive review of the way the Black Death affected the creation of art in the fourteenth century in Europe.

The Black Death had immediate and devastating impacts on art as many prominent artists or painters died. Some of theprobabley victims of the Black Death included Sienese masters such as Florentine masterBernardoo Daddi, who was a Sienese-influenced artist, Lippo Memmi, and Ambrogio Lorenzetti and his brother Pietro (Meiss, 1978). Alongside the death of the artists, the aftermath of the Black Death outbreak saw artistic activity virtually come to a stop. For instance, expansion projects for the Duomo Cathedral at Siena were stopped drastically (Kleinhenz, 2004), and sponsors started losing their wealth and influence (Bowsky, 1964). The lack of funds forced many painters to seek better opportunities and abandon art in their continued dependence on patronage.

Evidently, the Black Death caused the death of many artists, which left only a few of the painters. Additionally,the  majority of the painters who relied on sponsorship were forced to abandon their dependence on continued patronage and explore opportunities elsewhere. As a result, some of the upcoming artists were able toa  breakthrough in their career since there was reduced competition. Another notable impact that the Black Death had on art was in 1362-1363 when the Black Death returned temporarily and brought about a crisis as people worried about mortality. In particular, the world of art experienced an increased demand for sacred art as people sought forself-memorializationn creating more work opportunities for painters. Meiss also notes in his influential book that the Black Death brought about a breakthrough in the world of art that was not present before the bubonic plague. More specifically, art was characterized by a renewed religious conservatism, which focused on spiritual, judgmental, and supernatural representations.


Bowsky, W. M. (1964). The Impact of the Black Death upon Sienese Government and Society. Speculum, 39(1), 1-34.

Kleinhenz, C. (2004). Medieval Italy: An encyclopedia. London: RoutledgeMeiss, M. (1978). Painting in Florence and Siena after the Black Death: the arts, religion, and society in the mid-fourteenth century. Princeton (N.J.: Princeton University Press.

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