The art and architecture made during prehistoric times gives us a glimpse at how people lived their lives in the past.

Part 1

The art and architecture made during prehistoric times gives us a glimpse at how people lived their lives in the past. In the case of “Deer hunt” located in Çatal Höyük and “House 1” located in Skara Brae, they show different cultural and behavioral elements of the people that created them.

“Deer hunt” depicts an organized hunting party, and is one of the few paintings from this time to depict a narrative. Hunting was an extremely important part of Neolithic culture, economy, and diet because it was one of the few food sources available to them. While the site of Çatal Höyük in Turkey had many hunting scenes painted on its walls, this is the only one to have not only a narrative, but detailed depictions of humans. The humans in this painting are surrounding an animal and all have different poses, weapons, garments, and facial features.

“House 1” is one out of ten homes that remain of a Neolithic village off of the coast of Scotland. Their homes were constructed out of stone slabs because there weren’t many trees on the island, and that’s also why these homes survived for thousands of years. Most of these homes, including House 1, are single rooms with no windows. They have a square hearth in the center of the room, stone beds that had mattresses likely made from straw, an open cupboard for storage of food and possibly precious items, and a stone seat, undoubtedly for the head of household. Both the structure of the house and the items inside of it tell us about their protective efforts and how these people lived.

I believe that connecting common activities to art was important because it was a way for them to not only be creative, but to preserve their traditions and life for themselves and for future generations. Even if the works they made weren’t necessarily instructions, they served a purpose of being a piece of history that future generations could reflect on, admire, or learn from. Even in modern day, we as humans have an innate desire to both create and learn about the past – couldn’t we say the same desire was born and developed during Neolithic times?

Part 2

Male ruler – King Khafre

King Khafre’s portrait preserves his legacy as a divine king. Old Kingdom sculptors wanted to create images that portrayed the idealized and divine nature of kingship, so Khafre is portrayed with a flawless body and a perfect face. He is wearing his royal headdress, and the throne he sits on has lotus and papyrus plants intertwined on it to symbolize United Egypt. There is a falcon behind his head that identifies him as the “Living Horus”. The pose of the sculpture – a compact sitting form with few projecting parts – was given so that the statue would last for eternity.

Female ruler – Queen Tiye

Queen Tiye’s portrait bust preserves her legacy as the mother of Akhentaton and the chief wife of Amenhotep III, in addition to her divinity and importance in these roles. Presumably, her statue was first made with a headpiece that referenced the religion/rule of her husband. It was covered up with a plaster “wig” and a large crown only worn by goddesses in Egyptian art, which indicates that she is divine. Her sculpt reflects her age, as the artists rules were more relaxed during this time. She was also prominently featured in artwork beside her husband during his reign.

Cassidy:

I think the theme of daily and lifestyle incorporation into art can be noticed in, for example, the human skulls modeled for the dead buried under homes in Jericho is a tightly woven practice to what must have been a people’s religion- and historically (and often today, even) faith is a huge and interweaving part of daily life. Especially throughout history, however, religion and faith shaped every single viewpoint about the world, from mental health, to social expectation, to fashion, to medicine, to government systems. It is no surprise to find early examples of art woven at the core to religious practice as well. Another example could be both the Reclining Woman and the Nude Woman- the emphasis on the reproductive aspects of the female body, and on women in general, suggests how strongly the culture enforced the pressures of reproduction and carrying on your people/lineage.

I think that it’s important to connect art to daily themes because write what you knowis a saying that does not apply only to literature. It is easiest to tell your story, as you do know your story best. I am not sure how much awareness on this concept there was at the time, but I also think about how important it is to put yourself and culture into your work if you want it to be preserved and used to help the future cultures to learn about yours.

As for discussed rulers, King Narmer comes first to mind. His palette is a story of his power and authority- depicting him as unbeatable, unbreakable, and undefeated, but also orderly and restrained. It is simple, but still over-the-top. An ordinary, every day use item remade for display- no purpose other than for viewing; a clear display of the wealth of the King. After all, if you can afford to have an impractical version of a practical item, you’re probably doing quite well. I know that the display of wealth and power was historically very important throughout many cultures and eras (and in many ways, still is today).

Secondly, we have Queen Nefertiti. I am somewhat unclear on whether or not this bust was made of her via a commission of a royal artist or as some sort of ancient “fanart” but presuming the former, this bust was incredibly interesting to me because of how unlike everything else I have seen of Egyptian art it seems to be. It has an almost modern style to it that is somehow also ancient in appearance. As the text states, the massive headpiece compared to the side of her head and neck may indicate the weight and responsibility she carries (or the importance of her role?) compared to her… person? Her name does imply great beauty; are we to presume some sort of juxtaposition between one of great beauty being capable of holding great power too? Regardless, the piece depicts her as a thoughtful, well-adjusted, but collected ruler, if not also in a somewhat unsettlingly unfinished manner.

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