From Ancient to Modern: Archaeology and Aesthetics

catalogue cover for website

As archaeologists unearth the past, they seek meaning or purpose for the objects they uncover by looking at the objects themselves and their archaeological context. Art historians, on the other hand, primarily focus on aesthetics, asking why a particular object stimulates our senses, and what that tells us about ourselves. From Ancient to Modern offers a lens for understanding ancient objects through the perspectives and processes of both archaeology and aesthetics, and, in so doing, illuminates the multiple layers of meaning that a single object can take on—sometimes simultaneously—over the course of its existence.

This beautifully illustrated volume is the accompanying catalog for the exhibition at New York University’s Institute for the Study of the Ancient World and focuses on fifty objects from three iconic sites in the ancient Near East: Ur, Diyala, and Kish. The excavation, unique characteristics, and transformative journey of each object—from archaeological artifact to aesthetic item—are examined. Select contemporary artworks are also considered in the investigation of how ancient objects acquire meaning in the present day.

Contributors include Jennifer Chi, Lynn Grant, Jack Green, Holly Pittman, Karen Wilson, and Richard Zettler.



ISBN: 9780691166469

168 pp. | 7 x 9 | 125 color illus. 1 map. |

On sale in ISAW Gallery and through the Princeton University Press.