Human figures from Ain Ghazal, Jordan
6750-6250 BCE, plaster, size varies
Some are located at the Louvre
So I am taking ancient art history this semester and honestly I never thought that I was all that interested in ancient art... but I most definitely am. I have posted only one super old dating post (Lascaux) but as I am outlining chapter one of my textbook and I had to stop to tell you all about these crazy human figures found in Jordan.
I am already finding that what I love most about studying ancient art history is that the descriptions in my book aren't like a million pages long. Now I don't mean this in the "I am such a slacker student and I hate reading" type of way, but I LOVE the fact that these things are so old that no one can really come up with an agreed upon explanation of everything. Additionally, every time some archeologist finds something new, every single thing gets re-questioned. I assume this would start to get annoying because they can never say things like, "We did it! We solved the mystery of Paleolithic and Neolithic art!," but for someone who is just studying it, it's really amusing.
Anyways, these human figures were found buried beneath these really old settlements (and by really old I mean like 6500 BCE old). The figures are made of white plaster and the eyes were made with this tar-like substance. Some of the statues suggest gender, but for the most part they aren't gender specific. For the most part it is mostly assumed that these figures were ritually buried and had some purpose. So what's the big deal? Well, some of these statues are pretty large for being so dang old (like 3 feet) and most importantly, they establish the beginning of monumental sculpture in the Ancient Near East. That's a pretty big stinkin' deal if you ask me.
Okay I realize that my whole purpose of this blog is to make (cough, normal) people in to art history. I understand that Paleolithic and Neolithic art are the hardest types of art to get people interested in, but here's the thing; it's cool because it's so old. It's so old that people debate if they even should be considered art. I just love to marvel over the fact that people a million zillion years ago created these things of art. They inhabited this sense of artistic ambition. They had the desire to create, and that's extremely fascinating.
Neolithic art is purely fascinating.