Jiroft artifact, Persia, 3000 BC
Throughout the history of antiquity there have been numerous instances where art has interacted with ancient discoveries to forge new art trends and revitalize established arts. From the middle of the 8th century BC, the developing eastern trade connections led to an Orientalising of the Greek decoration of the ceramic arts with new subjects being introduced including palmettes, lions, panthers, rosettes, lotus flowers and the tree of life. Corinth developed its distinctive style with the appropriation of stylised plants and animals and curvaceous flora and fauna began replacing the geometric styles. Greek art had a pervasive influence in the Mediterranean, particularly in Rome where they adopted pillars and columns in their architecture and there was widespread use of marble statues and Greek pottery.
Boot buckle – gold, turquoise and carnelian – a man rides under a parasol in a cart pulled by a pair of winged felines.
Tillya Tepe in northern Afghanistan.
The only decorative art that the ordinary people were able to acquire was usually of the clay kind in the form of figurines and vases. Jewelry and fine art was usually beyond their reach, which explains the predominance of clay artifacts. The lifestyle pottery decorations acted as a crucial link to revealing their history, as written history was lacking.
Egyptian exploration spawned the geometrical features and motifs of the Art Deco designs as did the Aztec discoveries in South America. Colonization of Africa and the export of their artifacts stimulated Africanist trends in the European contemporary arts and influenced the development of Cubism at the beginning of the 20th century.The discovery of ancient artifacts in Arizona had a direct input into the styles of Mata Ortiz pottery and its renaissance.
Plenty of the ancient forms displayed esoteric symbols, shapes and geometric designs that were steeped in hidden knowledge and quite often only decipherable to the initiated. Many are still shrouded in mystery and are waiting to have their meaning unraveled, possibly by newer discoveries, which contributes to their appeal. The above Jiroft image of the person holding the two jaguars is a recurring theme from many ancient cultures, sometimes displaying other paired objects, for instance geese, snakes and lions. I’m yet to figure out the meaning behind this ubiquitous icon.
New technologies for deep surface scanning radars are revolutionizing the ability to locate and map archaeological sites. This has led to the discovery of more fascinating artifacts and many will still emerge from a diversity of archaeological digs in places like Iran, Cambodia, the Middle East and numerous other locations. The highly evolved aesthetics of some of the ancient artifacts reveal a gifted artisanship that is truly a wonder and shows that artistic endeavour and beauty really transcends time.
Armadillo – -Mosquitia, Honduras
Carving of a female riding a griffon.
1st–2nd century A.D. – National Museum, Kabul
Costa Rican figure pendant
4th-8th century, AD
Iznik jug, Turkey
C.1540 – The David Collection
Apollo carrying his kithara holds a phiale (flat cup) for Nike (Victory) to pour a libation into, with an omphalos (sacred navel) in between.
Egyptian Seated Scribe statue
Lenos shaped marble sarcophagus with Dionysus on a panther, also known as “Badminton sarcophagus” (right side: Oceanus). White marble. 260—270 CE
late 1st century CE — Met NY
Partially gilded silver plate – Sasanian king hunting wild boar
4th century CE. Hermitage Museum
Archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans who discovered the Minoan Palace of Knossos, the location he deducted from observing that the locals were wearing ancient stone seals as pendants.
This artifact was found off the coast in Florida. Speculation of its origin ranges from Chinese to Spanish to Atlantean. To me the motif looks more South East Asian, maybe Thailand.
Sumerian Boundary stone – kudurru (1125-1100 BC). The cuneiform inscription records the granting by Eanna-shum-iddina, the governor of the Sealand, of five gur of corn land in the district of Edina in south Babylonia to a man called Gula-eresh.
Bronze ‘omo’ bell
Vase decorated with various creatures – Jiroft culture, Iran (appears to b a rumble in the jungle)
In southeastern Iran, flash flooding caused a sudden change in the course of the Halil Roud River recently, revealing traces of a 5000 year-old civilization on the Iranian Plateau that had been hidden until then.
Pedestal dish, Cocle, Panama
Grain storage vessel, Crete
Cretan rhyton with fritware decoration
The goddess Cybele with framed drum
Lady of Elche medallion
Red figure bail amphora – Campanian
Sphinx statue – Cyprus
Cyprus bird motif jug
1450 to 1200 BCE
Dragon Master pendant, Afghanistan
1st century AD
Darius the Great, King of Persia
From inscriptions on the Cyrus Cylinder. “…I am Cyrus. King of the world. When I entered Babylon…I did not allow anyone to terrorize the land…I kept in view the needs of the people and all its sanctuaries to promote their well-being…I put an end to their misfortune.”
Costa Rican deity
Disk from an Ivory Panagiarion – Virgin and Child
The Arcturus Repository is an artifact of unknown origin, discovered during archaeologist Gaspar Haneke’s search for the lost continent of Lemuria.
Created in the shape of a cube, the artifact is riddled with as-of-yet undeciphered writings or symbols, winding a path along each of its sides.
Yoruba Gelede (Efe) Mask, Nigeria
Persian Ewer, Iran
Atacama Desert bronze plaque – ‘El Gran Sacrificiador’
AD 900–1500 – Argentina
Garland holder with a winged celestial animal – Pakistan, ancient region of Gandhara Schist.
Mid 1st century A.D.
Artifact from an ancient (9000 BCE) amphitheater
Gobekli Tepe, Turkey
Iranian goddess Anahita on a vessel, AD 300-500
Cleveland Museum of Art
Jaguar Metate basalt sculpture – used for grinding seeds and kernels into flour
Costa Rica, Circa-500 AD to 1000 AD
African Maske ‘kpelié’ from the Senufo people
Nazca Beaker Molded in the Form of a Warrior Holding a Sling,
180 B.C. — A.D500, Peru
The Art Institute of Chicago
Parvati – Hindu goddess of fertility, love and devotion
Wall relief Lion fighting a Bull
‘Phoenix’ vase, Yuan dynasty
Tri footed incised ceramic bowl – Teotihuacan culture, Mexico
Geometric Style Pyxis with lid- Met, NY
Mayan rattle depicting a goddess, 600–800 AD
Ritual bowl ‘agere ifa’ from the Yoruba people of Nigeria
Southern Italy ceramic tray
Standing Ruler – Guatemala, Maya culture Late Classic period (A.D.600–900)
Kimbell Art Museum, Texas
Hammurabi and Shamash
Hammurabi was the first king of the Babylonian Empire, but is best remembered for his 1760 BC creation of the first known written set of laws in history. This codex was written on a basalt stele standing nearly 2 meters tall, topped by a relief depicting Hammurabi raising his hand to his mouth in respect to the Babylonian God, who is likely to have been Marduk.
Etruscan sarcophagus with cover
Late 3rd century BC
Boston Museum of Fine Art
Ceramic Islamic Pyxis vessel
Syria late 11th–early 12th century
Persian Mina’i ware; painted and gilded fritware on an opaque turquoise glaze
late 12th–early 13th century
Vessel on pedestal base – Ban Chiang culture, Thailand
1000 B.C.E.-200 C.E
Vinca clay figure, Serbia
Late Neolithic (4500-4000 BC)
Vulcan (Hephaestus) – Roman marble relief from Herculaneum
c. 1st century BC – 1st century AD, (Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Naples)
Islamic turquoise faience jug
12th Century AD—13th Century AD
‘Xochipilli’ – the god of art, games, beauty, dance, flowers, and song in Aztec mythology.
Goddess Inanna, Aratta Jiroft
Votive clay figure from Altyn Depe (the Golden Hill), Turkmenistan.
Early 13th century Syrian ceramic lustre glaze lantern with four minarets
Kuan Yin standing on a lotus – North Sung Dynasty