ⓘ Ancient aesthetics

Ancient aesthetics

ⓘ Ancient aesthetics

Aesthetics is defined as the perception of art, design or beauty. Aesthetics is derived from the Greek word aisthetikos" defined as a perception of the senses. In aesthetics, there is a process of individual analysis, perception and imagination. Perception is defined as an individuals neurophysiological process of awareness and interpreting external stimuli. Therefore, aesthetics is highly subjective and differs by individual.

Aesthetics can also be used as a synonym to define taste or style encapsulating artistic expression and activities such as rhetoric, tone, harmony, painting, composition art and music. Aesthetics also encapsulates the look, feel, or sound of natural forms. Aesthetics also encompasses the science of how an individual or a society perceives, feels, senses or knows an external stimuli.

As a philosophy, aesthetics was developed in 18th century Germany by Emmanuel Kant. However, Greek and Roman philosophers such as Aristotle and Plato engaged in the rhetorical debate of aesthetic perception and properties as a separate branch of philosophy in defining the parameters of art and beauty. Ancient aesthetics shows the origin of aesthetic debate and influences modern aesthetic definitions.


1. Ancient civilization

Ancient is defined as an early historical period that is identified by the oldest known civilizations. Ancient history is the study of life and events during this period.

Civilizations that fall under classification of ancient are: Ancient Greece 800 B.C. and 500 B.C., the Incas 1438 A.D – 1532 A.D., the Aztecs 1345 A.D – 1521 A.D, the Romans 550 B.C. – 465 B.C., the Persians 550 B.C. – 465 B.C., Chinese civilization 1600 B.C.E. – 1046 B.C.E., Mayan civilization 2600 B.C. – 900 A.D., Ancient Egypt 3100 B.C.E. – 2686 B.C.E., Indus Valley civilization 3300 B.C. – 1900 B.C. and Mesopotamia 3500 B.C. – 500 B.C.


2. Ancient Greek aesthetics

Ancient or archaic Greece is the time period between 800 B.C. and 500 B.C.

Greeks Gods

Influence of beauty was derived from the gods. who took a divine human form and inspired their perception of beauty. Temples were created to worship gods contained their lifelike images.


2.1. Ancient Greek aesthetics Beauty

Beauty in ancient Greece 800 – 300 B.C.E. was referred to as κάλλος. The history of ancient Greek aesthetics spans centuries. Philosophical theories of beauty through this era are proportion, functionality and form.


2.2. Ancient Greek aesthetics Form

Ancient Greeks focused on the aesthetic form of the ideal human body. captured through the art. Sculptures were initially inspired by the monumental art of the Ancient Egyptians. Sculptures were considered at their peak of aesthetics when the human form was captured in a unique way and emphasized a divine or godlike quality. Proportion, poise and perfection of the human form were the artistic and aesthetic ideals. Stone and bronze monuments are iconic of this civilization.


3. Ancient Egyptian aesthetics


Ancient Egyptians regarded physical beauty of the utmost importance and performed rituals to enhance their appearance. Recovered artifacts support ancient Egyptian beauty ideals including makeup, copper and silver handheld mirrors, and combs. Makeup was created using siltstones palettes to grind minerals such as green malachite or kohl. Human hair was used to create extensions and wigs. Jewelry enhanced beauty such as a string of beads and carnelian pendants in the shape of poppy heads.

The afterlife and tombs

The Ancient Egyptians believed in an afterlife. Tombs were created for the dead and decorated with the highest form of their aesthetic principles. Mummy masks and coffins emphasized painted eyes lined with dramatic black outlines.