FRSEMR 64I - Looking for Clues. Ancient and Medieval Art @ Harvard





Evridiki Georganteli

Objects are essential primary sources for the study of the past. They are imbued with tales of their makers, of societies in which they took shape, of customs and beliefs that lent them meaning, and of routes that facilitated their dissemination. In this interdisciplinary and highly interactive Freshman Seminar, participants will hone the art of looking through the close-up study and discussion of ancient and medieval ceramics, textiles, and metalwork from the world-class collections of the Harvard Art Museums, the Harvard Museum of the Ancient Near East, and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Art-making at the Harvard Ceramics Program will further help us associate these museum objects, detached from their geographical, historical, and archaeological context, with imagery, feelings, and the life of ancient and medieval craftsmen.

Ceramics, textiles, and metalwork circulated throughout millennia along routes of trade, warfare, diplomacy, and pilgrimage, transcending linguistic, religious, and cultural borders. The materials and the techniques used in their creation reveal the economic resources, technological know-how, and political agendas of their makers. The reception, appreciation, life and afterlife of these objects shed light on the societies that consumed and treasured them. Looking for Clues. Ancient and Medieval Art @ Harvard is intended for students interested in Classics, History, Art History, Archaeology, Folklore and Mythology, Comparative Literature, Political Science, Economics, and the Study of World Religions. Handling sessions, group discussions, art-making, and a research paper on a choice object or a group of objects from the Harvard Collections offer students a sense of immediacy and appreciation of world cultures.