Sculpture is a form of visual art created in three dimensions. Sculptures can be formed from nearly any material, but the earliest known sculpture materials were bone, stone, and wood. We may have an incorrect view of all the types of sculpture that have been made because stone is much more durable than wood or fiber. Thus, many early examples may be lost to time. The oldest known sculp- ture is the 40,000-year-old Lion-Man of the Hohlenstein-Stadel, carved from a mammoth tusk. Early civilizations like Egypt and Assyria produced monumental sculptures and structures that glorified their rulers, considered to be living gods. The ancient Egyptians created massive monuments that have lasted for thousands of years, including the Great Pyramid and Sphinx of Giza. Ancient Greeks created simple stone statues of idealized young men and women called kouros and kore , which were painted in vivid colors. As Greek democ- racy evolved in Athens, Greek sculpture achieved a realism and dynamic motion that inspired artists in succeeding generations and cultures, from ancient Rome to the European Renaissance and the United States in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. People in the ancient Americas established their own sculptural traditions, in- cluding Mayan temples and jade ornaments, as well as Aztec monuments depicting feathered serpents and divine eagles. The Inca (or Inka) built thousands of miles of roads through some of the world’s most mountainous lands and created stone buildings on high mountain peaks, like Machu Picchu, that are in fact works of art and have withstood earthquakes for hundreds of years. Asian artisans created some of the most intricate, detailed, and astonishing sculp- ture and architectural achievements the world has ever seen. China’s Qin emperor was buried in a tomb with thousands of life-sized terra-cotta soldiers, each one unique and different from the soldier beside him. TheWorld Heritage site of Angkor Wat in Cambodia has served as both a Hindu and a Buddhist temple in its long history and includes miles of detailed carvings depicting religious scenes and teachings. Many sculptural traditions in Africa are lost to history because of colonial upheavals and tropical weather that quickly destroyed any wood or fiber sculp- tures that were made. Surviving stone and metal sculptures include the stunning Benin bronzes and detailed Ife sculpture heads. Polynesians created some of the most evocative and unique works of sculpture ever seen, including the Tiki and unforgettable Easter Island ancestor statues, the giant moai . Australia’s indigenous people, the Aboriginals, created vast areas of petroglyphs and rock art, including over 1 million images in the protected area of Murujuga.
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