Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon Portland Community College

CCOG for ART 204 Spring 2023

View archive version »
Course Number:
ART 204
Course Title:
History of Western Art: Prehistoric to Classical
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:

Course Description

Explores major monuments and themes of ancient art from the prehistoric period through the classical world. Includes Paleolithic, Ancient Near Eastern, Ancient Egyptian, Aegean, and classical cultures and ranges chronologically from about 30,000 BCE up to the 5th Century CE. Analyzes the visual arts to reveal the impacts of social, political, and technological changes, and to gain insight on cultures from the prehistoric through the classical periods and their impact on the world today. Prerequisites: WR 115, RD 115 and MTH 20 or equivalent placement test scores. Audit available.

Intended Outcomes for the course

Upon completion of the course students should be able to:

  • Explain how art from prehistoric times through the classical period is representative of the historical moment in which it was produced, acknowledging the interactions between social, cultural, technological, and/or economic factors and art.
  • Utilize a critical vocabulary as a framework for discussing, creating and/or writing about art from prehistoric times through the classical period.
  • Analyze the relationship between form, context and meaning in visual communication.
  • Articulate the relationships between art covered during this course’s timeframe, the history of visual culture and world history to enhance civic and global engagement.
  • Apply insights gained from course content to visual culture encountered outside of the classroom.

Integrative Learning

Students completing an associate degree at Portland Community College will be able to reflect on one’s work or competencies to make connections between course content and lived experience.

General education philosophy statement

Through the study of art history, students look closely at works of art and architecture, articulating the way elements of art are interrelated and considering how values and interpretations have changed over time. They critically analyze visual communication, work creatively with art historical data, use evidence to support arguments and assess the stakes of primary and secondary sources. They also analyze the relationships between art and its historical, cultural, social and political contexts. Art history enhances students’ engagement in contemporary global culture through a deeper understanding of history, which helps students recognize connections between the past and present and become more aware of their own vantage points.

Outcome Assessment Strategies

Assessment tools may include:

  • informal and formal responses to discussion questions

  • analysis and evaluation of reading assignments

  • visual and contextual analysis of art in writing assignments and exams

  • journals assessing learning in and out of the classroom

  • research projects resulting in papers or presentations

  • class field trips    

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)


  • Analyze and work creatively with art historical data, using it to better understand the history of art and visual culture.

  • Evaluate primary and secondary art historical sources, assessing their stakes and motives.

  • Assess the ways in which art is impacted by the viewer’s vantage point.

  • Articulate the relationship between art and its historical, social and political context.

  • Recognize and differentiate various styles of art and evaluate how values and interpretations change over time.

  • Recognize and identify parallels between the art historical past and the present.

  • Conduct a formal analysis of a work of art and articulate the way its elements are interrelated.

  • Research and write coherently about art history, using evidence to support arguments.

  • Use knowledge gained in the course to study fine art, art history, design, anthropology or history at a four-year institution.


  • Prehistoric art in the Paleolithic Period 

  • Prehistoric art in the Neolithic Period

  • Ancient Near East rulers and their palaces

  • Ancient Near Eastern religious art

  • Animals in Ancient Near Eastern Art

  • The Invention of Writing 

  • Ancient Egyptian funerary art and architecture

  • Ancient Egyptian temples

  • Ancient Egyptian Amarna Period

  • Gender in Ancient Egyptian Art

  • Ancient Aegean Art

  • Ancient Greek Orientalizing Period

  • Ancient Greek Archaic Period

  • Greek Vase Painting

  • Ancient Greek Classical Period

  • The Technique of Bronze Statuary in Ancient Greece

  • African in Ancient Greek Art

  • Ancient Greek Classical Architecture

  • The Persian Empire

  • The Hellenistic Period

  • Women in Classical Greece

  • Ancient Roman History

  • Ancient Roman Sculpture

  • Ancient Roman Architecture

  • Roman Wall Painting Styles

  • Issues of Repatriation

  • Artifact Recovery, Analysis and Restoration

  • Iconoclasm in the Ancient World

  • Iconoclasm Today

  • Ancient Art and Propaganda

  • Ancient Art and Religion

  • Ancient Art and Economics

  • Historical Preservation

  • Ancient Art in contemporary museums