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The World of Ancient Art

John Boardman

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‘Circumnavigating the ancient world’s art with Sir John Boardman … is a rare privilege and source of both sensual and intellectual enlightenment’ Sunday Telegraph


The World of Ancient Art is an innovative exploration of the arts of antiquity, from the earliest European cave paintings to the coming of Christianity and Buddhism in the Old World and the arrival of the Spaniards in the New.

Dividing the ancient world into three broad climatic categories - the northern nomadic, the temperate farmers and city-dwellers, and the tropical - the author focuses on common solutions that Man the Artist has devised for the problems posed by his environment, a factor that also determined the nature of society and its arts. The solutions are shown to have been very similar worldwide within each broad environmental zone, and the pattern can be demonstrated in the arts no less than in social organization.

Richly illustrated, and with detailed captions, the book covers the full range of ancient art produced across the globe, from China to Egypt, through Classical Greece to South America, Africa, Australasia and Oceania, and serves to illustrate the many similarities and differences to be observed over the millennia in which artists were required to serve man and his gods more completely than they have ever done since.

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'An eloquently argued, richly illustrated and exhilaratingly wide-ranging essay, as alive to the beauty as to the significance of art'
The Scotsman

'Insightful texts … stunning illustrations … a fascinating insight into an often somewhat neglected aspect of ancient history'
Reference Reviews

Product Information

Book Details

Format: Hardback

Size: 24.5 x 19.5 cm

Extent: 408 pp

Illustrations: 700

Publication date: 19 June 2006

ISBN: 9780500238271

Contents List

Contents • Preface • I. Early Days and the Primitive • II. The Arts of Urban Life • III. The Northern and Nomadic, and Interfaces IV. The Tropical Arts

About the Author

Sir John Boardman was born in 1927, and educated at Chigwell School and Magdalene College, Cambridge. He spent several years in Greece, three of them as Assistant Director of the British School of Archaeology at Athens, and he has excavated in Smyrna, Crete, Chios and Libya. For four years he was an Assistant Keeper in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, and he subsequently became Reader in Classical Archaeology and Fellow of Merton College, Oxford. He is now Lincoln Professor Emeritus of Classical Archaeology and Art in Oxford, and a Fellow of the British Academy, from whom he received the Kenyon Medal in 1995. He was awarded the Onassis Prize for Humanities in 2009. Professor Boardman has written widely on the art and archaeology of Ancient Greece.