Art and Iconography of African Kingdoms and Empires, from ca. 1500 BCE

This course will be a broad introduction to various historical developments in art and the role of iconography in primarily ancient and medieval contexts in several African regions. Through archaeological material and the focus on the materiality of objects and monuments (stone, ceramics, wood, etc.), students will analyze artistic trends and manifestations of taste. The course is organized geo-temporally and will follow a chronological development of African kingdoms and empires and the materials and objects associated with court art, mortuary culture, decorative arts, trade, and everyday use. Contemporary approaches to studying ancient and medieval African art and iconography may be applied to this study. Contemporary documentation of these aspects through visual art, fashion, and lifestyle archives may be used to analyze taste and trends that are visible in both the archaeological and the contemporary records. Students will familiarize themselves with materials from across African regions as well as work with relevant comparative geographical regions in contemporaneous periods (Africa, Asia, Europe) at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Brooklyn Museum. 3 credits. Satisfies the geocultural or chronological requirement.