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Diana McDonald Ph.D.

Diana McDonald Ph.D. >

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Colossal Olmec Heads
Episode 26 of 30 Masterpieces of the Ancient World Series
Next, your journey takes you halfway around the world to Mesoamerica to explore the unusual Olmec culture. Here in the low-lying Gulf Coast of Mexico, 17 colossal heads offer a startling look at a fascinating and intricate culture--what anthropologists call…
Ancient Cave Art—Chauvet, France
Episode 2 of 30 Masterpieces of the Ancient World Series
Step back more than 30,000 years as you view some of the earliest known art in the world-- a fabulous gallery of animals painted on the cave walls at Chauvet. These paintings tell us something profound about the Paleolithic mind…
Where Do We Come From?
Episode 1 of 30 Masterpieces of the Ancient World Series
What are the common themes of ancient art? Why is ancient art relevant today? What makes a masterpiece? Before you begin your journey through the world of ancient art, consider why ancient art matters, what it tells us about different…
“Queen of the Night”—Babylonian Goddess
Episode 9 of 30 Masterpieces of the Ancient World Series
Cursed in the Bible as "the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth," Babylon is much more fascinating and strange than you might think. Examine the "Queen of the Night," a nude woman who is part animal and part…
Teotihuacán—Temple of the Feathered Serpent
Episode 29 of 30 Masterpieces of the Ancient World Series
Venture north to the city of Teotihuacan, the "place of the gods." Here, the Temple of the Feathered Serpent is a mysterious pyramid that may contain a royal grave. You'll analyze the pyramid's repeating carved serpents and investigate one of…
The Standard of Ur—Role of the King
Episode 4 of 30 Masterpieces of the Ancient World Series
Turn to the masterpieces of the ancient Sumerians in the city of Ur, the "Cradle of Civilization." No one knows whether the mysterious Royal Standard of Ur is actually a standard--or even royal--but it tells us a great deal about…
Great Stupa at Sanchi
Episode 24 of 30 Masterpieces of the Ancient World Series
Delve into the world of Buddhism and the Great Stupa at Sanchi, the most ancient stone structure in India and the only one that supposedly houses the ashes of Buddha. Take a tour of a spiritual monument, protected by impressive…
Bronzes of Ancient China
Episode 23 of 30 Masterpieces of the Ancient World Series
Move east to the Shang and Chou dynasties in ancient China, where bronze vessels cast with astonishing technical skill and artistry are the defining artifact. Excavated in 1976, the royal tomb of Fu Hao revealed a trove of precious bronze…
Ancient Andean Ceramics
Episode 33 of 30 Masterpieces of the Ancient World Series
Many societies in this course have used art to communicate ideas, especially state propaganda. But Andean elites took a different approach. Rather than creating massive stone sculptures, artists made usable, practical objects. This episodes hows you some of the beautiful…
Borobudur—Ancient Buddhist Stupa
Episode 25 of 30 Masterpieces of the Ancient World Series
Continue your investigation of Buddhism by turning to the largest Buddhist monument in the world, Borobudur. As you study the terraces of this "cosmic mountain," you'll see superb carved reliefs that tell stories about the Buddha's life, humanity's place in…
Aztec Calendar Stone
Episode 31 of 30 Masterpieces of the Ancient World Series
Many people are familiar with the iconic Aztec calendar stone, but few understand what it means. Discover the story of one of the most famous excavated objects from the ancient world. Why is it a masterpiece? What does it tell…
The Uruk Vase—Vision of an Ordered World
Episode 3 of 30 Masterpieces of the Ancient World Series
In Mesopotamia, writing was developed 5,000 years ago, alongside the first narrative art, which set the stage for everything that followed in the Western art historical tradition. The registers on the Uruk Vase tell the story of civilization and reveal…
Tutankhamun’s Mask
Episode 14 of 30 Masterpieces of the Ancient World Series
You've no doubt seen images of King Tut's mask, but what does it represent? Why is it such a magnificent work of art? Unpack the secrets of Egypt's famous boy king and find out why the treasures of his tomb…
Parthenon Marbles—Metopes and Frieze
Episode 18 of 30 Masterpieces of the Ancient World Series
Plunge into the mythological battles of the Parthenon in Athens. The metopes, pediment sculptures, and frieze dramatize Greek myths, narrate battles, and are sublimely beautiful examples of Greek sculpture. Professor McDonald explains the context for these works and offers insight…
Ancient Andean Textiles
Episode 34 of 30 Masterpieces of the Ancient World Series
Shift your attention to Andean textiles. These masterpieces combined amazing technical virtuosity with supreme aesthetic taste. You'll be amazed by the labor that went into these luxurious pieces, yet what's most striking here is that abstract art--a modern innovation in…
The Ancient City of Persepolis
Episode 11 of 30 Masterpieces of the Ancient World Series
Turn to the Persian Empire, one of the grandest civilizations in the ancient world. Survey the history of Persia from King Cyrus to Alexander the Great, then study the city of Persepolis. Its construction, its palaces, and its many relief…
Sarcophagus Cover of Pakal at Palenque
Episode 27 of 30 Masterpieces of the Ancient World Series
Nestled in the foothills of southern Mexico is one of the most magical and hauntingly beautiful archaeological sites in the world. Here, one of the richest tombs in the New World was discovered, and its marvelous artifacts--particularly King Pakal's sarcophagus…
Palette of Narmer—The Conquering King
Episode 12 of 30 Masterpieces of the Ancient World Series
To maintain social cohesion, ancient kings had to justify their power through ideological control, and no culture was better than Egypt at creating art to establish the underpinnings of kingship. This first episode on Egypt considers the Palette of Narmer,…
Laocoön—Three-Dimensional Narrative
Episode 21 of 30 Masterpieces of the Ancient World Series
Contemplate one of the most mesmerizing sculptures in the world. Beyond the emotional expressiveness, the writhing snakes, and the doomed children, "Laocoon" has a complicated history that reflects its importance and its genius. As a hallmark of Hellenistic art, the…
Carved Stone Lintels of Yaxchilán
Episode 28 of 30 Masterpieces of the Ancient World Series
Blood sacrifices. Sacred visions. Poisonous animals. Artwork from the Maya kingdom of Yaxchilan may shock us, but the visceral and expressive detail carved into these stones is unlike anything in Western art. This riveting episode takes you into a truly…