AP Art History
Aegean & Greek Art


The three civilzations that flourished 5000-3000 years ago were the direct forerunners of the first true European civilization of Greece.
  • Geographically, the Cycladic Islands, the Island of Crete and the region of Mycenae (on mainland Greece) comprise the region of the Aegean.
  • Populations first settled in the region during the lower paleolithic and established village life during the early neolithic period. The region reached its peak during the 2nd millenium BCE.
  • The three cultures were dominated by the sea, that allowed them to develop with a wealthy trade economy, and acted as a natural defense against their enemies.
  • Cycladic (Cyclades Islands) 3000-1600 BCE
  • Minoan (Crete) 3000-1400 BCE
  • Mycenean 1400-1100 BCE
  • Cycladic Art

    Sculpture - Most examples date from the neolithic period and are female.

  • Seated Man With Harp, 3rd.millenium BCE
  • Statuette of a Woman, c2500-2000 BCE
  • Minoan Art

    The people of the Minoan civilzation flourished on the island of Crete. They established a wealthy network of trade that enabled them to be economically self-sufficient. Minoans reached their peak c1600 BCE. Much of what we know about the Minoan culture is due to the archaeological work of Sir Arthur Evans.

    Architecture-primary examples were built at the Temple Complex at Knossos.

  • Palace of Knossos, c1700-1400 BCE
  • Queen's Megaron, Palace of Knossos, c1700-1400 BCE
  • King's Apartment, Inner Court with peristyle, Palace of Knossos c1700-1400 BCE  
  • Painting - artists worked on a large scale using the fresco technique. Typically, murals were views of nature and/or scenes of human activity and had painted geometric borders.

  • Toreador Fresco (Bull Jumping) Palace of Knossos, 1450-1400 BCE
  • Landscape with Swallows (Spring Fresco) Thera (presently Santorini), c1630-1500 BCE

    Sculpture - were primarily small religious subjects made in ivory, wood, precious metals and stone.

  • Snake Goddess Palace of Knossos, c1600 BCE
  • Rhyton Palace of Knossos, c1500-1450 BCE
  • Mycenaean Art

    The site of the ancient Mycenaean civilization was discovered in the late 19th century by archaeologist Heinrich Schleimann. The people of the Mycenaean culture were influenced by the Minoans. But unlike the peaceful Minoans, the culture of the Mycenaeans was dominated by military encounters and the building of fortifications and strongholds. These buildings were once referred to a cyclopean because the mammoth rocks were believed to have been moved by the fictitious giant Cyclops people.


  • Corbeled Gallery Citadel at Tiryns, c1400-1200 BCE
  • Lion Gate, Mycenae, c1300-1250 BCE
  • Treasury of Atreus, Mycenae, c1300-1250 BCE


    "For we are lovers of the beautiful, yet with simplicity, and we cultivate the mind without loss of manliness...We are the school of Greece" Pericles, fifth century BCE

  • Whereas the Egyptians lived their lives according to their obsession with the afterlife, the Greeks represent the first major civilization that lived their lives based upon the concept of humanism.
  • The Greek humanist view was what led them to create a democracy and what encouraged their unparalleled contributions to the fields of art, literature, and science.

    HISTORY: Two major groups, the Dorians (from mainland Greece) and the Ionians (from the Aegean Island groups), were the earliest people to create strong kinship groups based upon language and common beliefs. Divided geographically, the early Greeks created small, independent city-states. Throughout the years, an intense military, political and commercial rivalry will evolve between the city-states.



  • Geometric Period: ca. 900-700 B.C.E.
  • Orientalizing Period: ca. 725-600 B.C.E.
  • Archaic Period: ca. 625-480 B.C.E.
  • Early Classical Period: ca. 480-450 B.C.E.
  • High Classical Period: ca. 450-400 B.C.E.
  • Late Classical Period: ca. 400-330 B.C.E.
  • Hellenistic Period: ca. 330-31 B.C.E.
  • Geometric Period  

    Vase Painting-Very typical of this period were large funerary vases designed to hold votive offerings. Decoration consisted primarily of abstract forms arranged in registers that surrounded the vase. Artists emphasized flat patterns and outline shapes that represented human forms in various poses of anguish. that repeated themselves around the vase.

  • Dipylon Vase Dipylon Master, from Dipylon Cemetery, c750 BCE
  • Attic Geometric Krater, from Dipylon Cemetery, c740 BCE
  • Hero and Centaur, c750 BCE
  • Orientalizing Period

    Vase Painting-Patterns used to decorate vases were larger and more open than geometric styles. Figures were real and imaginary in animal and human form. This pattern of design reflects a strong influence of motifs from the Near east, Asia Minor, and Egypt.

  • Wine Pitcher, from Rhodes, c650-625 BCE

    Statuary-There are very few examples of statuary from this time period. Lady of Auxerre, is the best example with its triangular flat-topped head with stylized strands of hair, that compliment the triangular pattern used for the facial shape.

  • Lady of Auxerre, c650-625 BCE
  • The Archaic Period  

    Architecture - A greater sense of permanency will characterize the architecture of the Archaic period. Temples were no longer built of mud brick, but were constructed of stone and marble. Architects experimented with different elevations of order, the Doric and the Ionic especially. Standard Doric elevation (seen in the Temple of Hera I) included fluted columns that rested directly upon the stylobate, and a three-part entablature.

  • Temple of Hera I, Paestum, Italy, c550 BCE
  • Temple of Artemis, Korkyra, c600-580 BCE
  • Siphnian Treasury, reconstruction, c530-525 BCE

    Statuary - With few exceptions, most archaic statuary was usually life-size or larger, painted, and shared a facial expression known as the "archaic smile." Female statues are identified as kore, and young male statues as kouros.

  • Dying Warrior, Temple of Aphaia, Aegina, c480 BCE
  • Kouros (Standing Youth) c600 BCE
  • Moschophorus (Calf Bearer), c560 BCE
  • Kroisos, c525 BCE
  • Kore, 570-560 BCE
  • Kore, from Peplos,  c530 BCE
  • Kore, from Chios, c520 BCE
  • Vase Painting - The main area for the production of vases during the Archaic Period was Athens. Artist adopted the Corinthian technique of vase decorating called black-figure.Inaddition red-figure technique was also used as a method of decoration.

  • Exekias, The Suicide of Ajax, Black-figure amphora, (fig. 5-29), c540 BCE
  • Exekias, Ajax and Achilles Playing a Game, Black-figure amphora, c540-530 BCE
  • Andokides Painter, Ajax and Achilles Playing a Game, Bilingual amphora, c525-520 BCE
  •   Early Classical Period

    In the early fifth century BCE, the Greek city-states united to successfully stop a Persian invasion. However, the final defeat of the Persians did not come until after the destruction of many cities, including Athens.

    Architecture and Architectural Sculpture-Examples from this period represent a time of transition. Temples become more compact, columns become more widely spaced with a smoother transition from the vertical shaft to the horizontal elements of the architrave. The overall effect is more refined and is best illustrated in the design of Temple of Hera II. Architectural sculpture shares this new refinement. Pediment statuary becomes lifesize and displays a variety of movement and action.

  • Temple of Hera II, Paestum, c460 BCE
  • Apollo with Battling Lapiths and Centaurs, Temple of Zeus, Olympia, c470-456 BCE
  • Athena, Herakles, and Atlas, Temple of Zeus, c470-456 BCE
  • Freestanding Sculpture Early classical statuary represents a complete break with the rigid, unnatural Egyptian inspired poses used by archaic sculptors in their kouroi. There is a new concern to render the human form in natural poses that illustrate how a human actually stands.

  • Kritios Boy, c480 BCE
  • Charioteer, c470 BCE
  • Young Warrior (Riace Warrior), c450-450 BCE
  • High Classical Period

    It was Pericles, who ruled Athens 462-429 BCE, that encouraged Athenians to rebuild the Acropolis that had been destroyed by the Persians in 480 BCE. This monumental undertaking was highlighted by the construction of the Parthenon. Completed in 438 BCE, construction was directed by Pheidias, who spared no expense at the project.

  • Kallikrates and Iktinos, The Parthenon, c447-438 BCE
  • Kallikrates Temple of Athena Nike, c425 BCE
  • Mnesikles Propylaia, c437-432 BCE
  • Mnesikles Erechtheion, c430's-405 BCE
  • Mnesikles Porch of the Maidens (Caryatid Porch), Erechtheion, c421-405 BCE
  •   Architectural Sculpture

  • Three Seated Goddesses, East pediment of Parthenon, 438-432 BCE
  • Lapith Fighting Centaur, Metope relief, Doric frieze, south end Parthenon, 438-432 BCE
  • Horsemen, detail from Procession, Ionic frieze, north side, Parthenon, 438-432 BCE
  • Statuary - Sculptors from the High classical Period believed that rue beauty was only found in perfect form. Sculptors such as Myron and Polykleitos believed that true beauty existed in perfect proportions, in harmonious numerical ratios. Polykleitos wrote about his ideas in his treatise called the Canon.

  • Myron Diskobolos, c450 BCE
  • Polykleitos Doryphoros (Spear Bearer), c450-440 BCE
  • Nike (Victory) adjusting Her Sandal, Temple of Athena Nike, 410-407 BCE
  •   Late Classical Period

    For one year after Athens was defeated by Sparta, the Athenian people were subjected to the tyrranical rule of Kritias. In 403 BCE, Athens revolted against Sparta and democracy was restored. Athens never regained her empire status, but the arts did continue to flourish. The artists of the fourth century BCE experimented with new subjects and new artistic styles, that turned away from the rigid conventions of the High Classical period.

      Architecture and Architectural Sculpture

  • Theodoros of Phokaia Tholos, Sanctuary of Athena, Delphi, c400 BCE
  • Polykleitos the Younger Theater, 350 BCE
  •   Sculpture
  • Praxiteles, Aphrodite of Knidos, c350 BCE
  • Praxiteles, Hermes and Infant Dionysos, 300-250 BCE
  • Lysippos, Apoxyomenos (The Scraper), c330 BCE
  •   Architecture
  • Altar of Zeus, Pergamon, c166-156 BCE
  • Hellenistic Period


  • Epigonos Dying Gaul, 230-220 BCE

  • Athena Attacking the Giants, Altar of Zeus, c166-156 BCE

  • Nike of Samothrace, c190 BCE

  • Hagesandros, Polydoros, amd Athanadoros, Laocoon and His Sons, early first century AD