Tuesday, September 30, 2014


The study lists for the test images and vocabulary terms are provided below. Please note that titles and locations (or artists, if applicable) are provided. You will need to refer to your text for corresponding dates:



Woman from Willendorf (Austria)
Hall of Bulls (France)
Bird-Headed Man with Bison (France)
Newgrange, Tomb Interior With Corbelling and Engraved Stones (Ireland)
Stonehenge (England)


Stele of Naram-Sin (Susa)
Anu Ziggurat (Uruk)
Nanna Ziggurat (Ur)
Ishtar Gate (Babylon)


The Palette of Narmer (Egypt)
The Great Pyramids at Giza (Egypt)
Statue of Menkaure and a Queen (Egypt)
Seated Scribe (Egypt)
Judgment of Hunefer Before Osiris (Egypt)

Cycladic Figure of a Woman (Cyclades)
Lion Gate (Mycenae)
Treasury of Atreus (Mycenae)
Ajax and Achilles Plying a Game, amphora (Exekias)
A Bronze Foundry (Foundry Painter)
Metropolitan Kouros (Greece)
Peplos Kore (Greece)
Kritios Boy (Greece)
Parthenon (Greece)



Iron oxide
Reductive methods
Additive methods
Low relief
Post and lintel


Crenellation (crenellated, adj.)


Stepped Pyramid

Black Figure
Red Figure
Peripteral Temple
Greek Orders

Saturday, September 27, 2014

ART HIST 1A03: Egyptian Art & Architecture

In my earlier post on Near Eastern and Egyptian Art I promised a list of vocabulary terms to correspond with the Egyptian works discussed. Here they are:

Stepped Pyramid


Please note that tutorial will begin this week! Your TAs will be reviewing material for the upcoming test and discussing the test format.

We begin Early Aegean and Greek Art this week. I will be posting relevant works and terms in due course. Note that a summary list of works and terms for the test will also be posted here on the blog early in the week.

Monday, September 22, 2014


Please note that I'm unable to keep my office hours today (3:00-4:00 pm). Should you need to speak with me please email me to arrange an appointment. My apologies for any inconvenience.


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Cultural heritage Issues: Militants Threaten Sites in Iraq, Syria

Since we are looking at Near Eastern art and architecture at the moment I thought this current news story would be of interest. The loss of cultural heritage in war-torn regions is always a concern and the current situation in Iraq and Syria highlights the degree to which the destruction of ancient sites and pillaging of art is a critical concern:

Militants Threaten Ancient Sites in Iraq, Syria

ART HIST 1A03: Art of the Ancient Near East and Egypt (Sept. 22)

During our lecture on Sept. 22nd we will move ahead with our discussion on the art and architecture of the Ancient Near East and Egypt.

So far we have considered, briefly, the region known as the Fertile Crescent.

Take note of the cities and regions located in the 'land between the two rivers', known to the Greeks as Mesopotamia. Note also the names of the two rivers.

The following are some additional terms, names and sites to note:

crenellation (crenellated, adj.)

We will consider the following works:

Stele of Naram-Sin
Anu Ziggurat
Nanna Ziggurat
Ishtar Gate

The second part of our discussion will take us to ancient Egypt. During the course of our discussion we will consider the following works:

The Palette of Narmer
The Great Pyramids at Giza
Statue of Menkaure and a Queen
Seated Scribe
Judgment of Hunefer Before Osiris

A list of related vocabulary terms will follow.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

ART HIST 1A03: Update on Tutorials

Hello everyone. I have just received a confirmation regarding the two remaining TAs for the course. I will now need to go through the paperwork with them this week and bring them up to speed for the first tutorials. As a result we will not be able to begin the tutorial sessions until SEPT. 29.

So... please note that there will be NO tutorial for this coming week.

The first tutorial sessions (beginning Sept. 29), will be set up as reviews for the upcoming test on Oct. 6.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

ART HIST 1A03: New Discovery at Stonehenge

Here's a link for some breaking news regarding Stonehenge!

Archaeological Discovery at Stonehenge using Radar

I had also mentioned a video on a proposed building method (involving the placement of stones at Neolithic sites). Here it is:

Method for Moving Blocks

I'll be posting some material on Near Eastern Art shortly.

Monday, September 15, 2014

ART HIST 1A03: Prehistoric Art (Part II, Sept. 15)

This afternoon we continue our discussion on prehistoric art with an emphasis on painting and architecture. Our discussion will centre on materials and practices with some further attention on vocabulary. Some key talking points to consider are:

Brushes and tools

Post and lintel construction

At the beginning of the lecture I will address questions about the use of the 4th edition of the course text while providing an update on the status of the tutorials.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

ART HIST 1A03: Tutorials and Texbook

Due to the delayed appointment of TAs for this course I have decided to postpone tutorial sessions until the week of September 22. This is to ensure that the teaching assistants have adequate time to prepare for their sessions. So, please note that next week we will only have lectures on Monday and Wednesday.

I have also been asked by some students in the course if the fourth edition of the Stokstad & Cothren text might be used in lieu of the fifth edition. In my view this should not present a significant problem for 1A03 though the pagination and some works discussed may differ between the two texts.

HOWEVER, students who are planning to take ART HIST 1AA3 in term two should note that the fourth edition may not be acceptable. Therefore, if you are planning to use the fourth edition (covering material from volumes I and II of the fifth edition) be advised that the book may be redundant at that point. In this case the fourth edition would not be a cost-saving investment. 

ART HIST 1AO3: Some additional notes on wall painting and reductive sculptural techniques

As we look at the cave paintings from Lascaux we will consider some of the possible techniques adopted by the people who made these images. There is still much speculation about the methods used. Here is an interesting online source which offers some useful insight with respect to the materials, tools and techniques employed:

How to Paint a Mammoth

Pigments are the finely-ground materials used to provide colour in a visual work. Paleolithic painters would have used organic (naturally-sourced) materials such as iron oxide (for red, yellow and orange), charcoal (for 'black') and chalk (for white).

Over the centuries the range of pigments adopted in art has expanded considerably and today, artists have access to both organic and synthetic colours. While many are moderately priced some, such as lapis lazuli, can be extremely expensive. Others, for various reasons (including the questionable ethics of sourcing and availability) can no longer be found. An example would be 'mummy brown'. The name of the pigment alone should provide a clue as to why it's no longer available!!


Our discussion will also introduce some issues relating to sculptural techniques. Generally, traditional sculptural techniques are divided into two categories; there are those works created through reductive methods and those produced through additive methods. The former refers to methods by which the sculptor removes material to produce the desired shape, while the latter refers to techniques by which the sculptor 'builds up' the form. Thus, while stone or wood carving would be considered reductive methods, clay modelling or casting techniques would be considered additive.

When making formal observations about a sculptural work it is important to consider why the method was used and how the process might be relevant to the meaning of the work.

Image source: solution.ecovillage.org

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

ART HIST 1A03: Prehistoric Art

Today we will begin to look at some of the earliest extant works. Our discussion will focus, during this first part (Sept. 10), on sculpture and wall painting. These are the works we will consider:

Woman from Willendorf

Hall of Bulls (Lascaux, France)

Bird-Headed Man with Bison (Lascaux, France)

With early forms of visual expression such as these we have little way of understanding their meaning or use. Much of our knowledge and understanding must depend upon formal analysis. Such analysis relies upon visual observation and questions such as the following:

What are the materials used?

How might the work have been made?

Is it in its original location? If so, could the site have some bearing upon its possible meaning or use?
If it is not in its original location can we determine where it would have been found?

Is the scale large or small? How might this have some bearing upon our experience of the work and our interpretation of its meaning?

What are the formal qualities of the work itself? 

Does it resemble something we find in nature or is it abstract? If it does resemble a recognizable form, how true is it to the form it describes? Are there any abstract qualities?

Although seemingly rudimentary, questions of this sort often open up a range of further, complex issues which cannot always be resolved. As we proceed with our formal analysis we also have to check our assumptions to ensure that we don't impose our own values or beliefs upon our interpretation of the work. For example, the so-called Woman from Willendorf was, for many years, generally identified as the 'Venus of Willendorf'. The assumption behind this title was that the figure represents a goddess of fertility (based upon parallels between the physical features of the sculpture and later works known to be connected with ideas of 'goddess' and 'fertility'). Yet, today, we recognize that this assumption is problematic, especially when the name of a Roman goddess (Venus) is imposed upon the work (thereby associating it with the attributes of a deity drawn from an unrelated culture). 

Monday, September 8, 2014

ART HIST 1A03: Introduction (Couse Objectives)

We begin ART HIST 1A03 by addressing some objectives and questions regarding the design of the course. Here are the key 'big' questions from our meeting today:

1. Why is the title of the course 'World Art and Cultural Heritage'? How is this title different from 'Art History'?

2. What can I expect to learn in 1A03 and how will it help me to land that awesome job when I graduate?

Some more basic questions:

1. Is ART HIST 1AA3 (Term 2)  a continuation of this course?

2. When do the tutorials begin and do I have to attend?

3. I'm not an Art History major. Will I be able to handle the material in this course?

4. Why is the course text so #?$%! expensive ??!!

5. I've heard my instructor likes Adventure Time and occasionally jokes around in class. This must mean that this is a bird course. Is that correct?

You will note that in my responses to some of these questions I emphasize the importance of student engagement with the material. Attending the lectures and tutorials are essential if you wish to perform well in this course. The text and lectures offer information and the perspectives of the author and instructor but the real value of the course rests with YOUR critical interpretation of this material. In the end it doesn't matter if you are majoring in Art, Art History, Engineering, Business, Health Sciences or any other field... it all comes down to what YOU make of it. As you can probably tell, I have strong opinions about education and methods of teaching and I encourage students to be wary of a passive-receptive approach to learning. For a more in-depth discussion on this matter have a look at this recent text I wrote in response to some concerns of one of my former students...

Some Thoughts on the State of Higher Education (Part 1: MOOCs)

Those of you who are interested in extending your connections with art history and visual culture may also want to check my Slippers's Picks page on facebook:

Slippers's Picks

More to follow...

Saturday, September 6, 2014

ART HIST 1A03: Course Outline

The course outline is available below and at the following link:

ART HIST 1A03 Course Outline Fall 2014

School of the Arts                               McMaster University

ART HIST 1A03: World Art and Cultural Heritage I
Term I, 2014

Lectures: Monday & Wednesday (4:30-5:20)
Location: TSH B128
Course Instructor: Greg Davies                                 

Office: TBA
Office hours: Monday:  3:00 – 4:00 pm., or by appointment

COURSE DESCRIPTION: This course presents a global perspective of art and architecture of the Americas, Africa, Middle East, Asia, and Europe within their historical and cultural context. Material extends from objects by itinerant First Peoples to the monumental buildings created by settled agrarian societies during the Middle Ages. Lectures and tutorials examine art produced in a range of media and address the designation and preservation of world Cultural Heritage sites.

Marilyn Stokstad and Michael Cothren, Art History, Vol. 1, 5th edition, (New Jersey: Pearson,2013).

Text or eText access code available for purchase at the McMaster University Bookstore


Course-related information and updates will be posted on the instructor’s blog throughout the term. Students should be prepared to access the blog regularly. Here is the link:

COURSE EVALUATION:  The final grade for this course will derive from three pieces of work. There will be one short test, one written assignment and a final examination. The marking scheme for each is listed below:

Short Test: 25%        In class, October 6
(30 minutes; 2 parts - slide identification and fill-in-the-blank questions)

Assignment 35%       Due in class, November 3 (5-page visual analysis)

Final Exam: 40%      Date TBA
(2 hours; 3 parts – 2 short responses to 2 questions; 1 long response to 1 question)

The requirements for each will be discussed in detail during class.

Please note: In accordance with the “Senate Resolution on Course Outlines” the instructor reserves the right to make changes in the course warranted by developments that may occur as the course unfolds, with reasonable notice to students enrolled.


EMAIL COMMUNICATION:  It is now the policy of the School of the Arts that all email communication between students and instructors must originate from their official McMaster accounts. This policy protects the confidentiality and sensitivity of info and confirms the identity of both parties. SOTA instructors will delete messages that do not originate from McMaster University email accounts.

LATE AND / OR MISSED WORK: It is the responsibility of each student to attend tests and exams and meet the requirements of submission for coursework. Missed tests and exams and late papers will automatically be assigned a grade of 0. Exceptions to this policy will only be made in the specific instances outlined below (see Permission to use MSAF ), and only when met by approval from the Faculty/Program office and course instructor.

In the event of an illness or injury a student must complete a McMaster Student Absence Form online. As of September 2011 the McMaster policy regarding the use of the MSAF is as follows:

The maximum value of the missed work for which the MSAF can be used is 29%.
The MSAF can only be used by a student once per term. The on-line 2011-12 Undergraduate Calendar will be updated to reflect this.
'Personal Reasons' are not a valid reason for using the MSAF.
The e-mail message that goes to students following their submission of the MSAF will clearly describe the steps that students must take to receive relief for the missed work, and the timelines for doing so.

Please note: As of September 2011, students will be required to visit their Faculty/Program Office and complete a Permission to use MSAF form, for the following reasons:
The request for relief for missed academic work is personal.
The request for relief for missed academic work is religious.
A component of work they have missed is valued at more than 29%.
They have already used the MSAF once in the Term.

Such students may be asked by their Faculty/Program Office to provide appropriate supporting documentation. If the student’s request to use the MSAF is approved, the MSAF link will be made available (on a one-time basis) to the student.

ON ACADEMIC DISHONESTY:  Academic dishonesty consists of misrepresentation by deception or by other fraudulent means and can result in serious consequences, e.g., the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: “Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty”), and / or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various kinds of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy (senate Policy Statements), specifically Appendix 3, located at http://www.mcmaster.ca

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

1. Plagiarism, e.g., the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
2. Improper collaboration in group work.
3. Copying using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Please note the following statement from the Office of Academic Integrity:

McMaster University has purchased Turnitin.com, which is a detection service. Students submit their assignment/work electronically to Turnitin.com where it is checked against the internet, published works and Turnitin’s database for similar or identical work. If Turnitin finds similar or identical work that has not been properly cited, a report is sent to the instructor showing the student’s work and the original source. The instructor reviews what Turnitin has found and then determines if he/she thinks there is a problem with the work.

Written work submitted in this course may be subject to review using Turnitin.com

CENTRE FOR STUDENT DEVELOPMENT: Students who are experiencing (or anticipate) personal or academic difficulties (e.g., time management problems, language and / or writing challenges, undue personal stress, critical family issues, etc.) during the course of the semester are urged to consult with a counselor at the Centre for Student Development (CSD). For further information on the CSD and its services please call (905) 525-9140 [ext. 24711] or go to: http://csd.mcmaster.ca 

A+       90-100             B+       77-79               C+       67-69               D+       57-59
A         85-89               B         73-76               C         63-66               D         53-56
A-        80-84               B-        70-72               C-        60-62               D-        50-52
                                                                                                            F          0-49

All readings are taken from Marilyn Stokstad and Michael Cothren, Art History, Vol. 1, (5th edition)

Please note that the material covered from each chapter will be selective. Highlighted material will be posted in advance on the instructor’s blog so that students may manage their readings effectively.

September 8    Introduction

September 10 Prehistoric Art: Ch. 1
September 15 Prehistoric Art: Ch. 1

September 17 Art of the Ancient Near East and Egypt: Ch. 2, Ch. 3
September 22 Art of the Ancient Near East and Egypt: Ch. 2, Ch. 3

September 29  Art of the Ancient Aegean and Greece: Ch. 4, Ch. 5
October 1        Art of the Ancient Aegean and Greece: Ch. 4, Ch. 5

October 6        TEST (IN CLASS)

October 8        Etruscan and Roman Art: Ch. 6
October 15      Etruscan and Roman Art: Ch. 6

October 20      Jewish and Early Christian Art: Ch. 7
October 22      Jewish and Early Christian Art: Ch. 7

October 27      Byzantine and Islamic Art: Ch. 8, Ch. 9
October 29      Byzantine and Islamic Art: Ch. 8, Ch. 9

November 3    Chinese, Korean and Japanese Art before the 14th Century: Ch. 11, Ch. 12
                        ASSIGNMENT DUE: IN CLASS

November 5    Chinese, Korean and Japanese Art before the 14th Century: Ch. 11, Ch. 12

November 10 Early Art of the Americas and African Art: Ch. 13, Ch. 14
November 12 Early Art of the Americas and African Art: Ch. 13, Ch. 14

November 17 Medieval and Romanesque Art: Ch. 15, Ch. 16
November 19 Medieval and Romanesque Art: Ch. 15, Ch. 16

November 24 Gothic Art: Ch. 17
November 26 Gothic Art: Ch. 17

December 1     Review I
December 3     Review II


ART HIST 1A03: World Art & Cultural Heritage I

Welcome to ART HIST 1A03! This week  we will begin with an introductory lecture (Monday, September 8) on the course design and objectives. At this time we will also discuss the tutorials (beginning during the following week) and address any questions you might have.

On Wednesday, September 10, we will get things rolling with a lecture on prehistoric material. The lecture will focus on the following works discussed in your readings:

Woman from Willendorf
Hall of Bulls (Lascaux, France)
Bird-Headed Man with Bison (Lascaux, France)
Tomb Interior With Corbelling and Engraved Stones (Newgrange, Ireland)
Stonehenge (Wiltshire, England)