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Comparing Ancient and Classical Art Paper Essay

Through each culture, art is created even it wasn’t meant to be used for it. The Stonehenge and the Great Stupa are two of the oldest known structures in our history. The European civilization, based in the southern part of the United Kingdom, is one of the wonders of the world and the best-known prehistoric monument. The ancient Indian civilization is in India, is one of the three stupas in India. Many similarities and differences existed between these two civilizations, as even though they co-existed during a certain timeframe and in two different geographical areas. The differences in geography are both these civilizations were subjected to different kinds of exposure, which may have included contact with other civilization and cultural inheritance. The European civilization had a stronger emphasis on a central authority, while the Indians had a more decentralized structure, where powers were distributed over the cities and the states as well.

The Art the Europeans created were more involved into making great monumental and gaudy structures while the Indians were more involved in creating smaller, more literary pieces of art. The Great Stupa’ at Sanchi is one of the most sophisticated and well-known monuments of all time; the marvelous icon is considered to be a cornerstone of Buddhist art, architecture, and religion. It stands tall and holds a powerful presence that is very symptomatic of its historical context. India is home to one the most symbolic and oldest stone structures known to man. This astonishing marvel built around 3rd century B.C by one of the most powerful and influential rulers of ancient India, Emperor Ashoka the Great. Asoka was the emperor of the Maurya Dynasty and ruled the Indian subcontinent from ca. 269 BCE to 232 B.C and during his reign, Ashoka converted to Buddhism and spread his Buddhist teachings through India, as well as having the great stupa erected to glorify and harbor the sacred Buddhist relics.

This incredible monument is majestic & unique in more ways than one. It has been said that the structure symbolizes the world mountain and “despite having the most perfect and well-preserved stupa, Buddhist art and architecture, it’s also surrounded by numerous other stupas, pillars, temples and living quarters for monks, the greater part of which had been buried.” Upon first recognition one could be lead to believe that because there are many other alluring attractions in India, it would be hard for this stupa to stand out and get its proper avowal. But this remarkable stone masterpiece has a wide range of spectacular things to offer, and tells us a very detailed story about early Buddhist life in India. Although the Great Stupa is among one of the many ancient monuments of India, few are of more interest than the tops of the stupas at Sanchi–Kanakheda. (Sayre, 2010) In the late Neolithic period, the megaliths at Stonehenge were erected.

These stones were believed to be built anywhere from 3000 BC to 2000 BC and placed by the community just one hundred miles to the west of London, England. Nobody knows the initial purpose of Stonehenge; however, there are theories of what it may have meant to this culture of the Neolithic era. There have been discoveries of human remains found at Stonehenge that have been dated back to the time of its creation. This discovery advises that all of these stones put in place as a burial ground for this culture’s ancestors. The five trilithons that form a horseshoe are located in the center of a full circle of what looks like multiple, attached trilithons. This circular enclosure, much like the stone circular wall around The Great Stupa, is designed to increase the sacredness of what is inside.

Another similarity of these structures is that they both serve as burial grounds. Stonehenge appears to be an organized grouping of stones; and The Great Stupa, appearing to be flawlessly symmetrical, were both created as complete perfection in the eyes of each of the respective cultures who created them (Sayre, 2010). The similarities and differences between the Stonehenge and the Great Stupa at Stanchi are interesting and more similarities than expected. The Stonehenge was built surrounding several thousand burial mounds which are very similar to the Great Stupa in a sense that the center circular brick formation was built over the relics of the Buddha. The Stonehenge and the Great Stupa were both built in a circular formation. The Stonehenge and the Great Stupa both are built with large pillars as well as differ in that sense because the Stonehenge’s pillars have/had a rough, more natural/raw material for their standing pillars.

The Stupa’s pillars had polished the pillars they had built and also covered them with narrative scenes from the life of the Buddha. The narratives scenes were for onlookers to be able to see. Although the Stupa had polished their pillars, they had also carved them to look like carved wood. Unlike the Stupa, the Stonehenge is believed to have shrunk in size over time as years passed. The Stupa expanded after a believed vandalism, which then led to the son of the emperor to expand the Stupa with stone slabs making it almost twice in size. Although the Stupa was expanded over time, numerous different times and the Stonehenge was not they were both however believed to be built in stages. The Stupa was built with stone carved to look like wood in some spots while the Stonehenge was built with wood timbers. Even though now it looks as though it’s just stone the opposite of the Stupa that looks as though it’s built with wood, as well as stone.

The purpose of the Great Stupa at Sanchi is believed to be for religious purposes. For example, Emperor Asoka believed power rested within religious virtues and not military forces. The stupas also housed important relics of Buddha and the remains of Buddhist holy monks. The Great Stupa holds great cultural value because it is revered by the people because it is a place of worship and prayer. The purpose of the Stonehenge is set to be unknown, however there are a set of theories and out of the many there was one which stood out the most.

Based on hundreds of human bones that were found at the site, the bones were over 1,000 years old. The human bones show a human burial cremation took place at the site. The cultural value of the Stonehenge could be it held a significant amount of information on when it was time for the people to harvest. The ancient artifacts created philosophers, great artwork, and great writing, which we find extremely useful to our daily education today.

Reference
Sayre, H. M. (2010). A World of Art. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education Inc. A guide to Sanchi” John Marshall. These “Greek-looking foreigners” are also described in Susan Huntington, “The art of ancient India”, p. 100 Lacy, Norris J, ed., The Arthurian Encyclopedia, New York, Peter Bedrick Books, 1986, article by Geoffrey Ashe, p. 529.


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