Her gods and men call Aphrodite, and Aphrogeneia (the foam-born) because she grew amid the foam.” -Hesiod, Theogony 176.

A few depictions of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty, in ancient Greek pottery.

Aphrodite and Adonis (detail). Attic red-figure squat lekythos, Aison, ca. 410 BC. Courtesy of the Louvre, MNB 2109. Photo by Marie-Lan Nguyen.

Aphrodite on a swan (detail). Tondo from an Attic white-ground red-figured kylix. From tomb F43 in Kameiros (Rhodes). Pistoxenos Painter, circa 460 BC. Courtesy of the British MuseumGR 1869.10-7.77. Photo by Marie-Lan Nguyen.

Vessel with Leda and the Swan (detail). Attributed to the Painter of Louvre MNB 1148, Greek, Apulia, South Italy, about 330 B.C. Courtesy of the Getty Villa, 86.AE.680. Photo by Dave & Margie Hill.

Howling Dog Effigy, Jalisco, 300 BC-AD 200. 
Why were dogs so significant to the Mexica?
Dogs were associated with the god of death, Xolotl, among the Mexicas of the highlands of Mexico. Both a dog and Xolotl were thought to lead the soul to the underworld. The skinny body and white hue of the shown dog represented above may have underworld connotations, connecting it to this belief. Xolotl was also associated by the Mexica with the planet Venus as the evening star, and was portrayed with a canine head.

The dog’s special relationship with humans is highlighted by a number of Colima dog effigies wearing humanoid masks. This curious effigy type has been interpreted as a shamanic transformation image or as a reference to the modern Huichol myth of the origin of the first wife, who was transformed from a dog into a human. However, recent scholarship suggests a new explanation of these sculptures as the depiction of the animal’s tonalli, its inner essence, which is made manifest by being given human form via the mask.
The use of the human face to make reference to an object’s or animal’s inner spirit is found in the artworks of many ancient cultures of the Americas, from the Inuit of Alaska and northern Canada to peoples in Argentina and Chile. (Walters)

On the subject of the significance of dogs, and dog effigies wearing humanoid masks, check out this post from a while back of ‘examples of dogs represented in ancient Mexican art.’ The final artefact here is from Colima, and shows a dog wearing a human mask.
Courtesy of & currently located at the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, USA, via their online collections, 2009.20.148.

Howling Dog Effigy, Jalisco, 300 BC-AD 200. 

Why were dogs so significant to the Mexica?

Dogs were associated with the god of death, Xolotl, among the Mexicas of the highlands of Mexico. Both a dog and Xolotl were thought to lead the soul to the underworld. The skinny body and white hue of the shown dog represented above may have underworld connotations, connecting it to this belief. Xolotl was also associated by the Mexica with the planet Venus as the evening star, and was portrayed with a canine head.

The dog’s special relationship with humans is highlighted by a number of Colima dog effigies wearing humanoid masks. This curious effigy type has been interpreted as a shamanic transformation image or as a reference to the modern Huichol myth of the origin of the first wife, who was transformed from a dog into a human. However, recent scholarship suggests a new explanation of these sculptures as the depiction of the animal’s tonalli, its inner essence, which is made manifest by being given human form via the mask.

The use of the human face to make reference to an object’s or animal’s inner spirit is found in the artworks of many ancient cultures of the Americas, from the Inuit of Alaska and northern Canada to peoples in Argentina and Chile. (Walters)

On the subject of the significance of dogs, and dog effigies wearing humanoid masks, check out this post from a while back of ‘examples of dogs represented in ancient Mexican art.’ The final artefact here is from Colima, and shows a dog wearing a human mask.

Courtesy of & currently located at the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, USA, via their online collections2009.20.148.

Depictions of Baal, the Canaanite god of fertility and rain

And they took the bull that was given them, and they prepared it and called upon the name of Baal from morning until noon, saying, “O Baal, answer us!” But there was no voice, and no one answered. And they limped around the altar that they had made.” -1 Kings 18:26.

Baal is actually a title meaning master or lord. There was a large number of local Baals, such as Baal-zephon and Baal-hamon. Of these Baals was the “Great Baal,” or “the Rider of Clouds,” the son of El. Baal is usually depicted in ancient art to be wielding a club or a thunderbolt. Both shown figurines would have once held either of these items.

Baal worship likely included a number of rituals, such as a ritual dance which involved participants limping or hobbling around an altar, as described at the top of this postThe Bible describes human (particularly child) sacrifice as a part of Baal worship: “They have built pagan shrines to Baal, and there they burn their sons as sacrifices to Baal. I have never commanded such a horrible deed; it never even crossed my mind to command such a thing!” (Jeremiah 19:5).

The 1st image of Baal shown dates to approx. 1400-1200 BC, and was found in Syria. The bronze figurine in the 2nd photo dates to the 14th-12th centuries, and was found in Ras Shamra (ancient Ugarit). The 3rd artefact dates to between circa 1499 and circa 1299 BC, and was found at the acropolis in Ras Shamra-Ugarit. 

The first image is © The Trustees of the British MuseumME 134627Both the 2nd and 3rd artefacts are courtesy of & currently located at the Louvre (AO 17330, AO 15775), and both photos are taken by Jastrow

Egyptian mummy and painted cartonnage of an unknown woman. From Deir el-Bahri, dates to between circa 850 and circa 750 BC (Third Intermediate).

Mummification preserved mortal remains in order to house the Ka, or life force of the individual, as it needed to return to the body to find sustenance. The human-shaped covering, called “cartonnage,” is composed of layers of linen and plaster. Its painted decoration includes the floral wreath on the wig, a broad collar, and a winged scarab beetle. Five additional registers of decoration show the protective four sons of Horus, the sacred boat of the funerary-deity Sokar, a mummy of Osiris on a funerary bed, a divine falcon god, and a short hieroglyphic text with an offering formula [which reads: ”The king gives an offering to Osiris”]. See the additional media for a facial reconstruction of the mummy [photo 3], courtesy of Michael Brassell, as well as a color reconstruction of the cartonnage [photo 6].

Courtesy of & currently located at the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, USA, 79.1.

Shabti box of Paramnekhu with shabtis, ca. 1279–1213 B.C., from the Tomb of Sennedjem

Essential items of funerary equipment from the New Kingdom on, shabti figures, of which there could be from 1 to over 400 examples in a single tomb, were meant to substitute for the deceased whenever he or she was called upon to perform manual labor in the afterlife. One example here is inscribed with a version of Spell 6 from the Book of Coming Forth by Day (better known as the Book of the Dead):
“O, shabti… if I be summoned…to do any work which has to be done in the realm of the dead…you shall act for me on every occasion of making arable the fields, of flooding the banks, or of conveying sand from east to west: ‘Here I am,’ you will say." (after Faulkner, The Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead). The others bear the name of the deceased with whom they were associated. (MET)

Courtesy of & currently located at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 86.1.14-group.

Shabti box of Paramnekhu with shabtis, ca. 1279–1213 B.C., from the Tomb of Sennedjem

Essential items of funerary equipment from the New Kingdom on, shabti figures, of which there could be from 1 to over 400 examples in a single tomb, were meant to substitute for the deceased whenever he or she was called upon to perform manual labor in the afterlife. One example here is inscribed with a version of Spell 6 from the Book of Coming Forth by Day (better known as the Book of the Dead):

O, shabti… if I be summoned…to do any work which has to be done in the realm of the dead…you shall act for me on every occasion of making arable the fields, of flooding the banks, or of conveying sand from east to west: ‘Here I am,’ you will say." (after Faulkner, The Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead). The others bear the name of the deceased with whom they were associated. (MET)

Courtesy of & currently located at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 86.1.14-group.

The hypostyle hall of the Hathor Temple at Dendera, Egypt.

The first hypostyle hall within the Temple of Hathor contains sandstone columns with Hathor head capitals. This hall was built during the Ptolemaic period, and was later decorated during the Roman period. The name of Roman emperor Claudius appears on the columns, and Nero on the walls. 

Gay Robins (in The Art of Ancient Egypt, page 231) discusses the decoration of the columns themselves:

The columns display the three fields into which temple decoration was divided. At the bottom are three registers of emblematic groups. A horizontal band of text divides them from the main area showing ritual interactions between the king and deities. This is separated by another band of text from further registers of emblematic figures at the top. 

Photos taken by Kyera Giannini, via the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World.

The Arch of Augustus at Susa, the best preserved of all Augustan arches in italy.
On the road leading to the Alpine crossing to Gaul, in 9 BCE Augustus erected this arch to celebrate the peace treaty he and Marcus Iulius Cottius had signed. A thin frieze on this arch depicts the treaty signing and the related ceremonies that accompanied it (close up here).
Cottius was the successor and son of the king of 14 tribes in the so-called Cottian Alps. Within the terms of this treaty was for Cottius to become a Roman citizen with the name Iulius, to renounce his kingship, and to become a local magistrate over the people he once ruled.
The Arch of Augustus celebrates the bloodless establishment of the Pax Augusta in this part of Italy. Augustus will boast about this in Res Gestae (5.26):
"The provinces of the Gauls, the Spains, and Germany, bounded by the ocean from Gades to the mouth of the Elbe, I reduced to a state of peace. The Alps, from the region which lies nearest to the Adriatic as far as the Tuscan Sea, I brought to a state of peace without waging on any tribe an unjust war." (trans. Shipley)
Photo taken by Hibernian. When writing up this post Fred Kleiner’s A History of Roman Art (2010) was of great use.

The Arch of Augustus at Susa, the best preserved of all Augustan arches in italy.

On the road leading to the Alpine crossing to Gaul, in 9 BCE Augustus erected this arch to celebrate the peace treaty he and Marcus Iulius Cottius had signed. A thin frieze on this arch depicts the treaty signing and the related ceremonies that accompanied it (close up here).

Cottius was the successor and son of the king of 14 tribes in the so-called Cottian Alps. Within the terms of this treaty was for Cottius to become a Roman citizen with the name Iulius, to renounce his kingship, and to become a local magistrate over the people he once ruled.

The Arch of Augustus celebrates the bloodless establishment of the Pax Augusta in this part of Italy. Augustus will boast about this in Res Gestae (5.26):

"The provinces of the Gauls, the Spains, and Germany, bounded by the ocean from Gades to the mouth of the Elbe, I reduced to a state of peace. The Alps, from the region which lies nearest to the Adriatic as far as the Tuscan Sea, I brought to a state of peace without waging on any tribe an unjust war." (trans. Shipley)

Photo taken by Hibernian. When writing up this post Fred Kleiner’s A History of Roman Art (2010) was of great use.

The Stone of the Sun.

The one sculpture which identifies the Mexicas above all others is the Stone of the Sun, discovered in December, 1790, in the Plaza Mayor of the capital of New Spain. Because of its symbolic content, with the names of the days and the cosmogonic suns, it was incorrectly identified as the Aztec Calendar.
This is a large gladiatorial sacrificial altar, known as a temalacatl, which was not finished because of a deep crack that runs from one side to the center of the piece at the rear. Despite the fracture, it must have been used to stage the fights between warriors in the tlacaxipehualiztli ceremony.
In the design of the disk, the face of Xiuhtecuhtli - emerging from the earth hole, holding a pair of human hearts and showing his tongue transformed in a sacrificial knife - can be recognized; he is surrounded by the four suns that preceded the Fifth Sun, in turn inscribed in the sequence of the 20 day signs. framed with the figure of the Sun with its four beams symmetrically accompanied by sacrificial sharp points. The star is surrounded by two Xiuhcoatl or “Fire serpents”, which carry it across the heavens.

Courtesy of & currently located at the Museo Nacional de Antropologia, Mexico. Photo & description by Travis S.

The Stone of the Sun.

The one sculpture which identifies the Mexicas above all others is the Stone of the Sun, discovered in December, 1790, in the Plaza Mayor of the capital of New Spain. Because of its symbolic content, with the names of the days and the cosmogonic suns, it was incorrectly identified as the Aztec Calendar.

This is a large gladiatorial sacrificial altar, known as a temalacatl, which was not finished because of a deep crack that runs from one side to the center of the piece at the rear. Despite the fracture, it must have been used to stage the fights between warriors in the tlacaxipehualiztli ceremony.

In the design of the disk, the face of Xiuhtecuhtli - emerging from the earth hole, holding a pair of human hearts and showing his tongue transformed in a sacrificial knife - can be recognized; he is surrounded by the four suns that preceded the Fifth Sun, in turn inscribed in the sequence of the 20 day signs. framed with the figure of the Sun with its four beams symmetrically accompanied by sacrificial sharp points. The star is surrounded by two Xiuhcoatl or “Fire serpents”, which carry it across the heavens.

Courtesy of & currently located at the Museo Nacional de Antropologia, Mexico. Photo & description by Travis S.