Indiana University

Fine Arts A101:  Ancient and Medieval Art


Spring Semester 2004                                                                                          Dr. Deborah M. Deliyannis

Place:  Fine Arts 102                                                                                                   Office:  Fine Arts 130

Time:  TuTh 1:25-2:15 pm + section                                                                  email:

Section:  2146                                                                          Office Hours:  Wednesdays 2-4 pm or by appt.


AI:  Holly Silvers,





This survey course will examine the history of the visual arts in the Western world from the Ancient Near East and Egypt to the end of the Gothic era (ca. 1400).  While the course will focus primarily on developments in the "major arts" of architecture, sculpture, and painting, we will also look at the so-called "minor arts" (ceramics, small-scale metalwork, textiles, etc.) in order to understand how they fit into the ancient and medieval artistic repertoire.  In lecture and discussion sections, we will approach the works of art with two specific goals in mind:  1) to understand the buildings and artworks in terms of their formal structure, artistic innovations, and stylistic development, and 2) to understand how and why one culture might borrow artistic and architectural motifs from another and adapt them for its own purposes.





The textbook assigned for this course is Gardner's Art Through the Ages, Vol. 1, 11th edition, available in the Friends of Art Bookstore.  Please buy only the 11th edition, as it is different from previous editions.  A copy of this book is on reserve in the Fine Art Library.


Exam or Assignment                                       Value                                                  

Attendance at lecture                                        6%

Attendance/participation in section                   15%

3 short writing assignments (8% each)              24%

2 Tests  (15% each)                                        30%

Final Exam                                                    25%     May 4, 10:15-12:15


The tests will include slide identifications and comparisons, key terms and short essays.  The first two tests will not be cumulative; 75% of the final exam will be on the final third of the course, the other 25% will be cumulative, and will consist of a comparative essay.  Review sheets with important monuments, terms to study and sample comparisons will be posted on oncourse before each test.  All tests are "closed-book". 


Information about the writing assignments can be found on the last pages of this syllabus.  You MUST turn in these assignments IN SECTION on the day that they are due.  Late assignments will be penalized one letter grade for each day they are late (i.e. if the assignment is due Friday and you turn it in on Monday, you will be down 3 letter grades).


All powerpoint presentations, the syllabus, assignments and review sheets will be available on the course web page on Oncourse.


*A note on make-up exams and late assignments: You will have plenty of advance notice to do all of these assignments.  Therefore, extensions will not be granted except in case of severe personal stress (accompanied by a doctor's note or a note from a dean). 




Tentative Schedule


The Ancient Mediterranean


January 13-15          Introduction; Ancient Near Eastern Art

                                 Gardner: xvii-xxxi, 16-41

                                 Section:  Introduction


January 20-22          Ancient Egypt

                                 Gardner: 42-75

                                 Section:  meet in the lobby of the IU Art Museum


January 27-29          The prehistoric Aegean: Cycladic, Minoan and Mycenaean Art

                                 Gardner: 76-95

                                 Section:  writing assignment #1 due, meet in regular classroom


Feb. 3-5                    Ancient Greece: Geometric through Early Classical

                                 Gardner: 96-126

                                 Section:  meet in the lobby of the IU Art Museum



February 10-12        Ancient Greece: Athens through Hellenistic

                                 Gardner: 126-159

                                 Section: meet in regular classroom


February 17              First Term Test



The Roman Empire and its Heirs


February 19              Etruscan Art

                                 Gardner: 160-173

                                 Section:  meet in regular classroom


February 24-26        Ancient Rome: Republic and Empire

                                 Gardner: 174-219

                                 Section:  meet in the lobby of the IU Art Museum


March 2-4                The Late Roman Empire and Early Christianity

                                 Gardner: 219-253

                                 Section:  writing assignment #2 due, meet in regular classroom


March 9-11              Byzantine Art

                                 Gardner: 254-287

                                 Section:  meet in regular classroom


Spring Break


March 23                  Islamic Art

March 25                  Second Term Test

                                 Gardner: 288-313

                                 Section:  meet in regular classroom



The Western Middle Ages


March 30-Apr. 1      Early Medieval Art

                                 Gardner: 316-324

                                 Section: meet in regular classroom


April 6-8                   Carolingian, Ottonian, and Early Romanesque Art

                                 Gardner: 324-339

                                 Section: meet in regular classroom


April 13-15               Romanesque

                                 Gardner: 340-373

                                 Section:  writing assignment #3 due, meet in regular classroom


April 20-22               Gothic Architecture

                                 Gardner: 374-399,  406-419

                                 Section:  meeting place TBA


April 27-29               Gothic Stained Glass and Manuscripts; the End of the Middle Ages

                                 Gardner: 399-419

                                 Section:  meet in the lobby of the IU Art Museum



May 4                       Final Exam, 10:15 am - 12:15 pm, Fine Arts 102




Writing Assignment #1

Due January 30 in section



This assignment is intended to prepare you to write about art.  Describing and analyzing artwork is often more difficult than it seems at first.  Not only do you need to describe the monument in enough detail that your conclusions about it can be understood by the person reading your work, but you also need to describe it in the correct order so that the reader can visualize the item without actually seeing it.


Step 1:  Please select one of the following items; links to the images can be found on the syllabus on the website:


Ancient Near East:  Assyrian, stone panel from the North-West Palace of Ashurnasirpal II (Room B, no. 30) at Nimrud (ancient Kalhu), northern Iraq, 883-859 BC:  A protective spirit, relief carved on gypsum, width: 22.5 cm,  height: 13.5 cm.  For more information, see the British Museum website, Compass, at: and search for "Ashurnarsipal apkallu".


Egypt: Limestone statue of Katep and Hetepheres, possibly from Giza, Egypt, 5th or 6th Dynasty, around 2300 BC, 47.5 cm high.  For more information, see the British Museum website, Compass, at: and search for "Hetepheres".


Aegean: Mycenae. Ivory sculptural group of child with two kneeling females wearing flounced skirts. 15th c. BC, Athens, National Archaeological Museum, 3" high


Step 2:  Look carefully at your item, and write up your observations in a short paper of about 1000 words. 


1.  The first section of your paper should describe the artwork in detail.  The best way to go about this is to describe your object generally (dimensions, material, general appearance) before working down to smaller aspects (texture, state of preservation).  It is important that this description be understandable.


2.  In the second part of your paper, describe the iconography of the artwork and speculate on why it appears here. Is the content depicted in great detail (many figures, many props) or has the artist restricted the image to a few key elements?  Why might the artist have decided to put this iconography on this artwork?  The function of the object or the historical context in which it was made may provide an explanation.  Make sure you have a thorough understanding of the iconography.  You may need to visit the Fine Art Library in this building and consult an index of Christian iconography to help you answer this question. If you have consulted a book to learn more about the iconography you should note its author and title in your paper.


3.  Finally, you should discuss the style of the artwork.  Does it represent figures and space realistically, or non-naturalistically? What means does the artist use to convince you that you are looking at a figure, a scene, or a depiction of space?  Does it seem that the artist was concerned with achieving a sense of naturalism, or did the artist perhaps have other goals?  Make sure you've included enough detail in your description that the reader can understand your discussion of style.


Step 3:  Get a friend who is NOT taking A101 and hasn't seen the artwork to read your paper.  Then ask them to sketch the object as they think it looks from your description (ONLY from your written description; don't answer any questions!). Turn this sketch in as part of your assignment.  Note:  the accuracy or technical skill of the drawing will NOT be calculated into your grade, so there's no need to cheat!  What we are looking for is an honest attempt to convey information via writing.


Step 4:  If your friend's sketch doesn't seem to look much like the object you are describing, rewrite your paper!  Have your friend try to draw it again.  


Step 5:  Proofread your paper.  It will count against you heavily in your grade if your paper is full of typos or mistakes in spelling and grammar.  Do not rely on your computer spell-check to proofread your paper for you.  It cannot tell the difference in usage between 'it's' and 'its', for instance. 





Writing Assignment #2

Due March 5 in section


Virtual Trip to Ravenna


To reach Ravenna:


1. At upper right corner click on ÒEnglish versionÓ (unless you know Italian)

2. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on Òvirtual visitÓ

3. Select ÒDynamic ImagesÓ

4. You will then find a list of buildings that you can explore virtually.


After loading the building of your choice, you can use the mouse to move 360 degrees around the building, as well as up and down


Be sure to use a fast computer with a good Internet connection, preferably a computer on campus. An old-fashioned phone line hookup is not going to work with this site.


Select one of the following three structures to explore:


            1. Basilica di San Vitale (San Vitale, entire building)

            2. Battistero Neoniano (Orthodox Baptistery)

            3. S. Apollinare Nuovo (SantÕApollinare Nuovo)


Write a 500-1000 word essay in which you identify the point of the church at which you are standing and write a detailed description of what you see, remembering to look up and down as well as all around.  Consider the space of the building and how it would feel to be inside: is it spacious or cramped? Is it light or dark? Do any architectural features block your visibility?  If you could move from your spot, which direction would you walk?  Consider also the decoration of the church and the role it plays in creating an overall atmosphere.  In conclusion, select two or three words that best describe the impression made by the architecture and decoration of the church.


Remember that, except for the Orthodox Baptistery, the original decoration of the buildings is not complete.  The architecture, however, is original.




Writing Assignment #3

Due April 16


Choose one of the following topics, and write a 500-1000 word essay about it.  Your essay should have an introduction, central section in which you discuss the three works of art you are writing about, and a concluding paragraph. 


For this assignment, the images you use should come either from Gardner or from the lectures.  If you wish to use some other image, please consult the instructors ahead of time.



Group 1                                         Group 2                                         Group 3                      

Ancient Near Eastern                     Etruscan                                        Early Medieval

Egyptian (any period)                    Roman (any period)                      Carolingian

Aegean                                          Late Antique/Early Christian         Ottonian

Greek (any period)                        Byzantine                                      Romanesque

                                                      Islamic                                           Gothic


1. Select one work of religious architecture from each of the three groups listed above (you will have three buildings total).  For each building, discuss what religion it represents, how it represents a style of architecture (and what style that is), and how it connected architecturally to previous traditions represented by the other buildings.  In your introduction and conclusion, compare and contrast these aspects of the buildings.


2. From each of the three groups listed above, select one work of narrative art.  By 'narrative art', I mean an image (could be painting, relief sculpture, etc.) that depicts a scene of a narrative, whether mythological, historical, or fictional.  For each image, discuss what sort of a narrative it is, how the elements are represented, and why.  Note any formal or stylistic connections between any of the images, direct or indirect.  Compare and contrast the images in your introduction and conclusion.