1. Explain the formal and iconographic characteristics of Geometric, Orientalizing, Archaic, Classical, and Hellenistic period art.
2. Identify the sources, orders, and parts of ancient Greek architecture.
3. Discuss the influence other cultures exerted on Greek art and architecture.
4. Explain the artistic and architectural theories governing ancient Greek art and architecture.
5. Discuss the materials, techniques, and processes used to create Greek art and architecture.
6. Identify historical events and characters that exerted influence on the development of Greek art and architecture.
7. Describe the changes in representations of the human figure from the Geometric to the Hellenistic period.

  1. Geometric 900-700 BCE
  2. Orientalizing 700-600 BCE
  3. Archaic 600-480 BCE
  4. Classical
    Early 480-450 BCE
    High 450-400 BCE
    Late 400-323 BCE
  5. Hellenistic 323-30 BCE

Key concepts, terminology
  • humanism – concept of man as being the measure of all things
  • concept of democracy
  • concepts of balance, harmony, and proportions pertaining to both man and art
  • evolution of style as related to the human form (Geometric, Archaic, Severe, Early Classical, Classical, Hellenistic)
  • mythology and its impact on Greek life and art
  • Pericles and his Golden Age
  • form and function of the Parthenon
  • architectural orders: Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian
  • independent city states merge into a cosmopolitan structure
  • the dissemination of Greek art

Misc. Relevant Links:
  • The Story of Greece (from Ancient Aegean onward) - link
  • History of Greece in 10 Minutes - link
  • Ancient Greek Cities [Examine what made each city (polis) unique] - link
  • The Greeks: Crucible of Civilization (PBS) - link
  • The Story of Ancient Athens - link
  • Interactive Greek Maps - link
  • Louvre - Greek, Roman and Etruscan antiquities - link
  • Artchive (courtesy of Mark Harden) - link
  • Who was Homer? (Wikipedia) - link
  • Homer's Odyssey (entire translation - Butcher / Lang) - link
  • Greek Mythology - link
  • Odysseus (from Homer's Odyssey) - link
  • The Seven Wonders of Ancient Greece: Part 1 of 5 (c/o Discovery Channel) - link



The Greeks – called “Hellenas” [Ancient name for Greece = “Hellas”] = seems to be the product of an intermingling of:
  1. Aegean peoples (Dorians)
  2. Indo-European invaders (Ionians)

1100-1025 BCE – Mycenaean dominance ends = “Dark Age” (loss or destruction of knowledge, culture)

The Dorians (who came from the North) –
  • most likely put an end to the Mycenaean civilization
  • they settled in Peloponnesos (means - island [nesos] of "Pelops" <a legendary figure)

The Ionians (origin is disputed) settled -
  1. islands of the Aegean Sea &
  2. western coast of Asia Minor (pres. day Turkey)


Ancient Greek ideas are a big part of our modern Western habits of mind.
  • Demos – of the people (democracy)
  • Polis = an independent city-state (poleis – pl.) >> [common today: metropolitan, political, etc.]
  • Other familiar words / concepts: agora, stoas, palaestras, etc.
  • Term: Greco / Roman – refers to the traditions (art, philosophy, etc.); also, the notion of Classicism or The Classics
  • Architectural models – governmental buildings, campus buildings
  • Humanism: humans = measure of all things
  • Philosophy - Socrates, Plato, Aristotle


9th & 8th Century BCE – Athens, Corinth, Sparta (independent of one another – government, trade, commerce, etc.)
  • 776 BCE = the various independent city-states held first ceremonial games at Mount Olympia. The later Greeks reflected upon this date as their beginning.
  • Despite the differences and inherent independence among each c-s, commonality – first Olympiad; they were all citizens of Hellas.
    • All wars halted (safety of traveling athletes)
    • Only Greek athletes
    • Zeus and Hera
    • Best athletes might live rest of life at public expense
    • Panathenaic amphoras given to winners of events as prizes from 566 BCE onward; event painted on backside & Athena on front.
  • Greek language spoken, served as a unifier; those non-speaking peoples = barbarians (bar-bar)

7th Century BCE
  1. Adopted written language (from Phoenicians)
  2. Adopted coinage (from Asia minor)
  • Corinth – one of earliest / most powerful city states, due to location (trade route – land / sea)

6th Century BCE
  • Athens became preeminent city-state – culturally and economically (especially by the end of the 6th C BCE); relatively small (1,000)
  • Organized form of government - each community had its own assembly of magistrates
  • Citizenship (men only) - e.g. Census taken in Athens (309 BCE): 21,000 citizens; 10,000 foreigners; 400,000 others (women, children, slaves)

  • sky gods
  • reside in Mount Olympus
  • gods / goddesses vs. titans
  • just like us (human) in appearance, as well as in our flaws (character, judgment), yet have super-human powers & are immortal
  • fashioned in our image (c/c to the deities acknowledged by the Egyptians)
  • they seem to behave like one big, dysfunctional family
  • worshiped via outdoor locales (usually built into the terrain of the land) – shrines, temples
  • note that subtle, regional differences existed b/t city/states, with respect to the views of the gods/goddesses

  • Sound body and mind (balance, moderation)
  • Citizenship
  • Respect for the body (including the proper burial of a deceased body) – dignity
  • Debt to Near East and Egyptian artistic motifs (high interaction due to trade routes)
  • Competition for art commissions
  • First civilization in which artists signed their work
  • Slavery – common, natural, necessary as a universal institution
  • Women – not the equals of men... rather property (functional, not to be trusted); three (3) things a man looks for in a Greek woman as a potential mate?
  • Democracy – really? (*exceptions = women and slaves)
  • War among city-states = chronic!
  • Also - consider the differences in the Greek concept of life & afterlife (c/c to Egyptian) - what was important?; Fame for posterity, perfection (Greece) = eternity (Egyptians)

The Emergence of Greek Art

  1. Geometric 900-700 BCE
  2. Orientalizing 700-600 BCE
  3. Archaic 600-480 BCE
  4. Classical
    Early 480-450 BCE
    High 450-400 BCE
    Late 400-323 BCE
  5. Hellenistic 323-30 BCE

[Go to Geometric Style]

For a link to a Menu/Page that contains larger versions of most of the following images, please click here.

For those interested in some blank "study guides" containing the images for each of the respective Greek art periods, reference the following links. Within these documents, you will be able to insert pertinent information and save them for your study purposes.

Advice to students:
Note that this particular unit comes with a "Vocabulary Intensive" alert. Plain & simple, there is a great deal of vocabulary & terminology introduced here. A fluent understanding relies heavily on a thorough knowledge of these. Therefore, my suggestion is to simply learn this vocabulary. Some of the terms may be familiar, but many may be brand new to you. There's no easy, creative way to learn it, but my advice is to immerse yourself each night in order to increase your understanding of this stuff.

With respect to Ancient Greece, these are the following "areas" in which you need to become fluent:
  • BASIC GEOGRAPHY of Greece & surrounding Mediterranean Sea - link to map
  • STYLISTIC PERIODS (of Greek art) - names & dates / centuries - link to a simple screenshot image
  • GREEK FIGURE SCULPTURE (materials, processes, terminology)
    • Informative video about the processes associated with ancient figure sculpture - link to Youtube
    • Informative video about the processes associated with ancient figure sculpture (c/o The Getty Foundation) - link to Youtube
    • Website containing many great pics illustrating the step-by-step process of creation a bronze figure sculpture - link
    • A very basic visual illustrating the "lost wax method" - JPG link
    • Architectural orders - Doric, Ionic (& parts associated w/ the pediment)
      • Greek architectural orders / vocab - PDF link
      • Greek architectural orders / vocab - JPG link
      • Greek architectural orders / vocab (same as above, but including text / info) - PDF link
      • Greek architecture orders / vocab (same as above, but including text / info) - JPG link
      • Greek architecture orders / vocab (test yourself - blank version) - PDF link
      • Greek architecture orders / vocab (test yourself - blank version) - JPG link
    • Temple plans - layouts & associated terminology
      • Handout on Greek temple plans / terms - PDF link
      • Handout on Greek temple plans / terms - JPG link
    • The Acropolis complex - layout & names of various buildings residing within
      • Click the link to "Classical Greek" wiki & locate the Parthenon complex mid-way down the page
    • Vase types - shapes, names, uses
      • Handout (ver1) detailing the various shapes of Greek vases - PDF link
      • Handout (ver2) detailing the various shapes of Greek vases [2 pages] - PDF link
    • Vase making / painting - materials, processes, terminology
      • Informative video "painted vases" (c/o of WTA) - link to Youtube
      • Black figure vases - chemistry of the firing process (c/o of Art Institute of Chicago) - link to Youtube
    • Fundamental understanding of the structure

Questions / Considerations:
“Most religious buildings today are intended for congregational worship, where groups of people get together on a regular basis to celebrate their god and receive spiritual comfort. Ancient Greek temples were rarely used this way. They were meant to serve as homes for the individual god or goddess who protected and sustained the community. It was the needs of the gods that were most important. They controlled the forces of nature— the sun and rain which nourished their crops and the winds which drove their ships. Although generally benevolent, the gods could be quite capricious and were liable to turn against the community— so it was in everyone's interest to make sure that they should feel completely at home.”

Describe one Greek site that encompasses the ideas presented in the above quotation. Identify the buildings located on your chosen site and describe how their design made the whole area a sacred place for the Greeks?