Animals in Antiquity

  • Crude tan clay figurine of man on horseback

    Unidentified artist, Boeotian, Horse and Rider Figurine, c.550 BCE, slipped ceramic, 4 x 4 ¾ x 2 inches, Gift to the University of Colorado Classics Department, Transfer, University of Colorado Museum of Natural History, Transfer, CU Art Museum, University of Colorado Boulder, 2006.27, Photo: Jeff Wells, © CU Art Museum, University of Colorado Boulder

  • Small black cup with a horizontal handle on each side of the rim, decorated with orange owl.

    Unidentified artist, Boeotian, Glaux, c.450 BCE, slipped terracotta, 2 x 4 ½ dia. inches, Gift of Hazel E. Barnes and Doris J. Schwalbe, CU Art Museum, University of Colorado Boulder, 2011.10.20, Photo: Jeff Wells, © CU Art Museum, University of Colorado Boulder

  • Silver coin depicting owl in center, olive branch on the top left, and Greek AOE on side

    Unidentified artist, Greek, Ob: (Head of Athena r., later style, in helmet with olive leaves and scroll) | Re: ΑΘΕ, 454 - 404 BCE, silver tetradrachm, 1 inch dia., Transfer from Classics Department to CU Art Museum, University of Colorado Boulder, 2014.06.99, Photo: Katherine Keller, © CU Art Museum, University of Colorado Boulder

  • Clay figure of a small chicken standing on a wooden stand with tan box on left.

    Unidentified artist, Han Dynasty, Figurine (of Chicken), 3rd century BCE - 3rd century CE, earthenware, 7 x 8 x 3 inches, Gift of Warren and Shirley King, CU Art Museum, University of Colorado Boulder, 2012.12.20, Photo: Jeff Wells, © CU Art Museum, University of Colorado Boulder

  • photo of exhibition installation

    Installation shot Animals In Antiquity, 2015-16 at CU Museum of Natural History. Photo: Jeff Wells, © CU Art Museum, University of Colorado Boulder

Animals in Antiquity

September 18, 2015 - May 14, 2017 at the CU Museum of Natural History

The desire to assign symbolic meanings to animals that share our world links human cultures across time. Whether rendered figuratively or abstractly, depictions of animals remind us not only of themselves but also of the qualities and traits we assign to them. They can illustrate human traits—the coyote as trickster, the cat aloof—and teach children behaviors and ideals from fables. Humans have worshipped animals, hunted and consumed them for food, and altered the natural environments of animals, all in the name of humanity.

This exhibition is a celebration of animals in art and animals as artifacts. The objects are from across the Earth and span the last 4,000 years of human history. We invite you to ponder what these objects represented and how the makers used them in their daily lives.    

Curated by Erin Baxter, doctoral candidate in anthropology

This exhibition is generously supported by the Department of Classics, CU Boulder Student Arts and Cultural Enrichment fees, and CU Art Museum members.