For bronzes - statues and reliefs, see: Bronze Sculpture. The Venus of Berekhat Ram (dating from c.230,000 BCE or earlier) is a basaltic figurine made during the Acheulian Period, which was discovered on the Golan Heights.
For Pentelic, Parian, Carrara stone, see: Marble Sculpture. The Venus of Tan-Tan (c.200,000 BCE or earlier) is a quartzite figurine from the same period.
Every major architectural movement has been accompanied by huge demand for sculptures of all kinds.
As well as being the most enduring form of art, sculpture is certainly the most influential.Historically, nearly all Kings, Popes and tyrants have recognized the propaganda effect of inspirational sculpture.After an unknown catastrophe (probably earthquake) around 1500 BCE, the Minoan civilization collapsed, and Crete was conquered by the Myceneans from the Greek mainland, who were themselves overcome and the city of Mycenae destroyed around 1100 BCE.Chinese art during the Shang Dynasty (c.1600-1050) developed along quite different lines to Western varieties.Made from materials as varied as mammoth bone, ceramic clay and bone ash, as well as various types of stone like steatite, oolitic limestone, serpentine, and volcanic rock, these venus figures have been located in sites across Europe, from Russia to Spain. Mesolithic art witnessed more bas-reliefs and free standing sculpture such as the anthropomorphic figurines unearthed in Nevali Cori and Gobekli Tepe near Urfa in eastern Turkey, and the statues of Lepenski Vir (eg. It also witnessed the creation of the Shigir Idol (7,500 BCE) - the world's oldest surviving wood carving - found near Sverdlovsk in Russia.
Anthropologists believe they may have been used in fertility rituals, although why fat women should be so iconic remains a mystery. Arguably the greatest Mesolithic work of art is the terracotta sculpture from Romania, known as The Thinker of Cernavoda, an unmistakable image of cognitive thought.
Roman Emperors distributed portrait busts of themselves to every corner of their empire; the Roman Church decorated their cathedrals, abbeys and churches with tens of thousands of statues and relief sculptures to convey the message of the Bible; Pharaohs, Kings and Emperors from Ancient Egypt, Persia, Greece and the modern world, have invested fortunes in monumental sculpture to commemorate success in battle.
Modern tyrants, from Stalin to Saddam Hussein, have errected statues as monuments to their glorious rule.
Due to the cultural stagnation of the Greek "Dark Ages" (1100-900 BCE) and the predominance of pottery during the Geometric Period (900-700 BCE), Greek sculpture did not really appear until the Daedalic or Oriental-Style Period around 650 BCE.
Thereafter it developed according to the traditional chronology of Greek art during classical antiquity, as follows: Archaic Period (c.650-500 BCE); Classical Period (c.500-323 BCE); and Hellenistic Period (c.323-100 BCE). Archaic Greek Sculpture (c.600-500 BCE) The Archaic period was a time of slow but continuous experimentation; the most prized form of Archaic Greek sculpture was the kouros (pl.kouroi), or standing male nude.
Of course nothing compares to the inspirational message of America's Statue of Liberty, probably the No 1 propagandist work of sculpture.