Diana McDonald Ph.D.

Diana McDonald Ph.D. >

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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…
Great Ziggurat at Ur—Ancient Architecture
Episode 6 of 30 Masterpieces of the Ancient World Series
With the magnificent ziggurats, ancient people reached for the sky, which was the domain of the deities. Learn about Nanna, the Sumerian moon god, and experience the architectural grandeur at the heart of Sumerian daily life. While wars, climate, and…
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…
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…
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…
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…
Column of Trajan
Episode 22 of 30 Masterpieces of the Ancient World Series
This stunning 125-foot-high monument is truly a marvel, combining a feat of engineering with the skill of sculptors who crafted a 650-foot-long story that spirals upward from the base. The column commemorates the successful military campaigns of the Roman emperor…
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…
Aphrodite of Knidos
Episode 20 of 30 Masterpieces of the Ancient World Series
The Greeks offered more than just action and warfare in their art. This episode examines the first female nude in the tradition, a sculpture of Aphrodite, the femme fatale of Mount Olympus. Whereas Greeks would have considered it unseemly to…
Kritios Boy—Idealized Athletic Youth
Episode 16 of 30 Masterpieces of the Ancient World Series
Travel to ancient Greece and trace the development of realism in sculpture through the Archaic period. The "Kritios Boy" represents a leap forward and seems more "alive" than Egyptian sculptures, partly because of the development of contrapposto and partly due…
“Ram Caught in a Thicket”
Episode 5 of 30 Masterpieces of the Ancient World Series
Explore the fertility theme in the first 3-D sculpture of the course. "Ram Caught in a Thicket" was excavated from the Great Death Pit at Ur. In addition to telling us about royal burials, the sculpture tells us about the…
Greek Vase Painting—“Death of Sarpedon”
Episode 19 of 30 Masterpieces of the Ancient World Series
Visit the fields of Troy as phalanxes of Greeks advance upon the Trojans. There, according to the Iliad, Sarpedon was killed by Patroclus, a scene memorialized in Euphronios's red-figure vase painting. Learn how artists represented death and what techniques artists…
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…
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…
“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…
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…
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…
Ishtar Gate and Processional Way
Episode 10 of 30 Masterpieces of the Ancient World Series
Continue your study of ancient Babylon by reflecting on Nebuchadnezzar's city gates and processional way. These impressive feats of architecture and engineering inspire awe through their sheer size. The animals on the gate--lions, bulls, and the snake-dragon--were meant to protect…
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…
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…