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Ancient art and civilizations

3000 B.C.E. - 400 C.E.: The Great Pyramids at Giza, the Parthenon, the Colosseum, and more.
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Ancient Near East

Ancient Near Eastern cultures established the first cities, the earliest code of laws, and the oldest known writing which was used, not for poetry, but for bookkeeping.
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Egyptian art and culture

The art of the ancient Egyptians was (for the most part) never meant to be seen by the living—it was meant to benefit the dead in the afterlife.
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Aegean art

19th century archaeologists sought evidence for Homer's epic poems. Instead they uncovered bronze-age art of the Cyclades, the Minoans, and the Mycenaeans.
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Greek art

Ancient Greek art was collected in ancient Rome, studied during the Renaissance and formalized in the 19th century. It is the most influential art ever made.
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Nabataean

The Siq is a canyon leading to Petra, the greatest city of the Nabataeans, a people who occupied the area from Sinai to northern Arabia and southern Syria.
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Etruscan

Before Rome, the Etruscan civilization ruled much what is now Italy. The Etruscans left fine metalwork, elaborate tombs and a deep mark on ancient Roman culture.
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Roman

The brilliance of ancient Roman art can be seen in the wall paintings of Pompeii, the massive ambition of the Colosseum, and the daring engineering of the Pantheon.
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Judaism and art

Judaism is an ancient monotheistic religion with a focus on sacred texts rather than sacred images, making its art an especially interesting area of study.
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Asia

Asia is both huge and diverse. Explore Hinduism's principal deities, Buddhism's most sacred shrines and recently uncovered treasures from ancient Afghanistan.
Ancient Near East
Ancient Near Eastern cultures established the first cities, the earliest code of laws, and the oldest known writing which was used, not for poetry, but for bookkeeping.
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The Ancient Near East, an introduction

Sumerians, Akkadians, Babylonians, Assyrians, and Persians - no wonder we need an introduction!

Sumerian

We sometimes use the word "Ur" to speak of the origin of something (for example, "Adam spoke the ur-language"). In fact, Ur was an actual Sumerian city and we can go back there to learn about the origin of writing, cities, and even civilization. Ur really was the ur-Ur.

Akkadian

Think Sargon and Narim-sin, the Akkadians ruled most of Mesopotamia for centuries a really long time ago.

Babylonian

For two thousand years the myth of Babylon has haunted the European imagination. The Tower of Babel and the Hanging Gardens, Belshazzar’s Feast and the Fall of Babylon have inspired artists, writers, poets, philosophers and film makers. Learn here about the source of these myths, Babylonia itself.

Assyrian

The Assyrian empire dominated Mesopotamia and all of the Near East for the first half of the first millennium, led by a series of highly ambitious and aggressive warrior kings. The culture of the Assyrians was brutal, the army seldom marching on the battlefield but rather terrorizing opponents into submission who, once conquered, were tortured, raped, beheaded, and flayed with their corpses publicly displayed. The Assyrians torched enemies' houses, salted their fields, and cut down their orchards.

Persian

Western histories have often looked at the Persians only in relation to their confrontations with the ancient Greeks, but the Persian empire was long-lived, complex and sophisticated. The heart of ancient Persia is in what is now southwest Iran, in the region called the Fars. In the second half of the 6th century B.C.E., the Persians (also called the Achaemenids) created an enormous empire reaching from the Indus Valley to Northern Greece and from Central Asia to Egypt.