This is a course in the history of art and architecture around the world. It is divided into time lines so that one can see what was happening simultaneously in various cultures during any given era.
The great joy of history is touching the lives of past people, and finding how like us they truly were. One of the strongest ties we share as humans is the creation of art. From time beyond all memory, the art on cave walls tells us emphatically that these images were created by fellow humans who saw their world and created symbols to represent it, symbols that were not the things themselves, but representations, abstract thought transferred to two-dimensional reality.
We are the animals that make art. When we see past artists and how they pictured their world, hear how they felt it and expressed those feelings in words or music, we can connect with them at a level that is deeper than simply reading the words that others have written about them.
If we then attempt to create our own images, words or music from their viewpoint, we can touch them even more directly, because their art is informing us through our own senses as we see similar forms emerge from our own unconscious.
Art and history are linked because when we started making art, we started becoming truly human. In fact, one geneticist has proposed the theory that a genetic mutation occurred some fifty to sixty thousand years ago which gave us the ability to think abstractly, after which we began to paint the walls of caves. His theory is new and unproved, but fascinating.
As we developed cultures, our art changed to mirror our developments, but the impulse to create it is the same today that it was at the beginning, and the art on cave walls is today recognized as just as profoundly illustrative of human creativity as any produced in any period of history.
It is not so much that there is a connection between art and history. As a species, our art IS our history. Whether expressed in carvings, architecture, paintings, music or words, the primary way we can truly study and understand our ancestors is through the study of their art and our own attempts to re-create it.