The Problem with Art History Timelines

neolitic-art-chinaThe problem with most art history timelines is that they are Eurocentric and as such they center the achievements of Western art while erasing the art achievements of the rest of the world. While there is nothing wrong with Western art, the story of art includes a vast array of geographic and cultural centers, and any serious student of art history needs to acknowledge this.

As a student, one question I always had for my art history teachers is if life began in Africa, how is it that art history begins in Mesopotamia?

One of the better art history timelines can be found at the Metropolitan Museum’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History, which chronicles art as early as 8,000 B.C. in various regions of the world.

image: Ritual Object, Neolithic Period (ca. 3,200-2,000 B.C.E.), from China. Material: jade. Courtesy of The Met Museum

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