Paper 01 – Observation and Comparison (40,000 BCE to 100 BCE) Archaeology and art history are based on observation

Paper 01 – Observation and Comparison (40,000 BCE to 100 BCE)
Archaeology and art history are based on observation and comparison. For your first paper, you are
asked to pick one from among the works of art or architecture that are included in the file “Paper 01 Works
Uncaptioned.” Choose wisely: you are asked to write an essay on it of about 1,000 words (800 to 1,200 max).
The paper should include a detailed descriiption of the work that you pick and a comparison between it and one
or two of the works that we have looked at and are included in the modules. The main goal is for you to argue
the identity of the untitled work of art – in terms of origin, date, author and meaning – on the basis of your
own descriiption of it and comparison with one or two known works. You do not need to be right – it is not a
guessing game – but you need to be convincing, that is, you need to build an argument for the “identity” of the
work on the basis of your observations and comparisons. No outside sources on the untitled work are needed
beyond the image(s) in the file (indeed, they would not help).
Start by looking carefully at the image(s) of the work that you pick and then write a formal analysis of
it. Begin with a general descriiption and then move on to more specific elements. Think of describing the work
to someone who is not seeing it: by the end, your reader should have a complete mental picture of what the
work looks like. Your descriiption should deal with all aspects of the work, such as composition, figures,
background, lines, colors, proportions, iconography (i.e. subject matter), size, material, technique,
conservation (remark on any signs of damage, incompleteness, restoration), etc. Make the most of the visual
information provided by the work itself and point out its inherent aesthetic qualities. Focus your descriiption
on the details that you believe are especially relevant and revealing: they may lead you to a particular reading
and interpretation of the work.
After you have given a formal analysis of the work as it appears to you, next offer comparative
evidence, that is refer to one or two works that you know from class. On the basis of your comparison, add a
paragraph or two about possible artist, patron, date and historical context for the “uncaptioned” work. In the
end, your analysis may bring up one or two questions that should go into the conclusion of your paper together
with a summary of what you have learnt from your in-depth visual descriiption. Keep in mind that this is not
intended to be a research paper. The main goal is to exercise your ability to observe, describe in writing,
compare and demonstrate your skills at offering an account of relevant visual evidence.
The paper must include 2 to 3 images of the works that you mention with full image captions
underneath: artist, title, date, medium, etc. You are asked to include a bibliography with a list of sources (2
to 4) on the comparative evidence that you are referring to in your paper. One of the sources that you list needs
to be a page from the website Smarthistory ( – check the “cite this page as” at the end).
A starting point in searching for information about the comparative evidence is also the Library Resources
Evaluation will be based on the quality of your descriiption of the work, your formulation and
articulation of ideas, the construction and overall format and intelligence of the essay (see Grading Form
below). Remember that a short paper can be harder to write than a long one: it needs to be well constructed
with proper introduction and conclusion. Each word must count: be precise but also detailed, choose each word
with care, describe accurately and make sure that each sentence says exactly what you mean. Write in full
sentences with carefully composed and connected paragraphs. Before submitting the paper, proofread your
final draft for correct spelling, punctuation, capitalization and syntax. Right at the beginning, have your name
and a meaningful title for the paper. You are asked to post a digital version of the paper (in Word or PDF
format) via Turnitin on Moodle (under Paper 01). The deadline is Wednesday, October 12

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