Lesson Plans

Art History ©1999

by Marilyn Stokstad

Focus Lesson 4

Chapter 4: "Aegean Art"


AP* Course Description

  • Ancient Through Medieval
    • Greece and Rome

Key Components

  • Instructor's Resource Manual with Tests, Vol. I: pp. 17–18, 60–61, 101–106, 199–200
  • Study Guide, Vol. I: pp. 22–25

Key Web Sites

Given the changing nature of the Internet, you may wish to preview these sites. Check the Online Companion Web site for updated information and links to other sites.

Key Words and Terms

  • palace complex
  • ware
  • incised
  • dressed stone
  • gold leaf
  • filigree
  • niello
  • citadel
  • relieving arch
  • passage graves
  • chevrons
  • course
  • megaron
  • relative chronology
  • terra cotta
  • sculpture in the round
  • faience
  • lost-wax casting
  • repoussé
  • gilding
  • ring walls
  • corbel
  • cyclopean construction
  • running spirals
  • ashlar
  • shaft grave
  • absolute chronology
  • stylized
  • votive figure
  • rhyton
  • inlay
  • granulation
  • relief
  • post-and-lintel construction
  • beehive tombs
  • façade
  • corbeled vault
  • capstone

Suggested Pacing

Allow only one week for the study of ancient Aegean art. Traditionally, the focus of the material is the palace complex of Knossos.

Test Strategy

The importance of the early architectural innovation that occurred during this period may be tested. Students may be called upon to identify and explain corbeled vaults and post-and-lintel construction. Examples are found in the palace complex at Knossos and the citadel at Mycenae.

Key Concepts

  • Stylization through repetition
    Over time, Cycladic sculpture became increasingly simplified and reduced, rather than complex. The evolution of the female votive figurines of the Cyclades to a stylized form is an important concept for students to know. Compare this stylized form with prehistoric sculpture such as the Woman from Willendorf (p. 39).

  • Corbeling versus true vaults
    The Classical world introduced a number of architectural innovations. This chapter discusses in particular the corbeled vault. Students will have an opportunity to compare corbeled vaults with true vaults when they study Chapter 6. Students should begin to keep notes on architectural innovations in order to compare and contrast different styles as they review for the test.

Summing Up Student Understanding

Art from the Aegean period intersects with the body of Greek myth and literature. Ask students to prepare an illustrated presentation that incorporates Greek myth or literature with Greek artwork. Have students do research and choose a specific Greek myth or work of literature, then present it to the class along with images of artwork from this period that are related. Some examples are:

  • The palace complex of Knossos and the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur. Some scholars equate the labyrinth of the palace with the Minotaur's labyrinth. See "The Legend of the Minotaur," p. 132.

  • Bull worship. The text discusses the practice of bull-worship and its effects on Minoan art on p. 135. The scenes of bull jumpers and bull-shaped rhytons reflect this influence.

  • Troy and the Iliad. Schliemann's placing of the events from Homer's Iliad at the site of Hissarlik, in Turkey, provides a basis in fact for this well-known literary work, p. 143.

  • Treasury of Atreus. Another Homeric reference, this beehive tomb was once believed to be the resting place of Atreus, father of Menelaus and Agamemnon, p. 145.

After students present their findings, a discussion about whether archeological evidence supports or rejects the veracity of Greek and Homeric myth would be appropriate. For example, the Treasury of Atreus has been dated too far in the past to be connected to the character described by Homer. However, it is generally accepted that the Hissarlik site is in fact ancient Troy, and that the palace at Knossos was the inspiration for the myth of Theseus and the labyrinth.