A quick look at: Germanicus, a prominent Roman general of the early Empire, and the grandson-in-law of Augustus Caesar.
"Germanicus, too, that he might be the better known, took his helmet off his head and begged his men to follow up the slaughter, as they wanted not prisoners, and the utter destruction of the nation would be the only conclusion of the war. And now, late in the day, he withdrew one of his legions from the field, to intrench a camp, while the rest till nightfall glutted themselves with the enemy’s blood. Our cavalry fought with indecisive success." -Tacitus, Annals (2.26), via The Internet Classics Archive.
Germanicus Julius Caesar (15 BC-AD 19), usually just referred to as Germanicus, was a member of the Julio-Claudian dynasty and the nephew and adopted son of Tiberius. He commanded 8 Roman legions on the Rhine frontier with distinction. He appears to have gained affection among the Roman people; Suetonius in Life of Caligula III describes his “…unexampled kindliness, and a remarkable desire and capacity for winning men’s regard and inspiring their affection." He died aged 33 on October 9 of AD 19, it was a suspected poisoning. 
Great honours were granted to Germanicus after his death and he was elevated to a god-like status:

[…] Five voting centuries were to be named after him; a curule chair was to be kept in the temple of the new god, the temples were to be closed on the day that Germanicus’ ashes were interred and sacrifices were to be made on that day each year at his tomb.
[…] In public, all due honours were granted to Germanicus. The only oddity was that Tiberius and his mother did not attend the internment. Some bad feeling may have been read into this by Germanicus’ supporters, but this would seem to be an over-reaction.
-Richard Alston in Aspects of Roman History AD 14–117, page 28.

Sculpture courtesy of & currently located at the Louvre, France. Photo taken by Jastrow. The sculpture dates to circa 40 AD, Accession number: Ma 1238.

A quick look at: Germanicus, a prominent Roman general of the early Empire, and the grandson-in-law of Augustus Caesar.

"Germanicus, too, that he might be the better known, took his helmet off his head and begged his men to follow up the slaughter, as they wanted not prisoners, and the utter destruction of the nation would be the only conclusion of the war. And now, late in the day, he withdrew one of his legions from the field, to intrench a camp, while the rest till nightfall glutted themselves with the enemy’s blood. Our cavalry fought with indecisive success." -Tacitus, Annals (2.26), via The Internet Classics Archive.

Germanicus Julius Caesar (15 BC-AD 19), usually just referred to as Germanicus, was a member of the Julio-Claudian dynasty and the nephew and adopted son of Tiberius. He commanded 8 Roman legions on the Rhine frontier with distinction. He appears to have gained affection among the Roman people; Suetonius in Life of Caligula III describes his “…unexampled kindliness, and a remarkable desire and capacity for winning men’s regard and inspiring their affection." He died aged 33 on October 9 of AD 19, it was a suspected poisoning.

Great honours were granted to Germanicus after his death and he was elevated to a god-like status:

[…] Five voting centuries were to be named after him; a curule chair was to be kept in the temple of the new god, the temples were to be closed on the day that Germanicus’ ashes were interred and sacrifices were to be made on that day each year at his tomb.

[…] In public, all due honours were granted to Germanicus. The only oddity was that Tiberius and his mother did not attend the internment. Some bad feeling may have been read into this by Germanicus’ supporters, but this would seem to be an over-reaction.

-Richard Alston in Aspects of Roman History AD 14–117, page 28.

Sculpture courtesy of & currently located at the Louvre, France. Photo taken by Jastrow. The sculpture dates to circa 40 AD, Accession number: Ma 1238.

Flake with drawing of Osiris seated on his throne within a shrine. Egyptian Ptolemaic Period, 305- 30 B.C.E.

Even if he were not labeled by the hieroglyphs at the right (“Osiris, the great god”), this deity would be easy to identify. Osiris, lord of the underworld, is always shown as a mummy, often wearing the White Crown of Upper Egypt adorned with two feathers of Ma’at (cosmic harmony). Here the god holds his characteristic crook and flail and is seated in a shrine or under a canopy.
Though the almond eye, long nose, and full lips suggest a New Kingdom date (Dynasties XVIII–XX, circa 1539–1070 B.C.), many other details indicate that the sketch was made in the Ptolemaic Period. The meticulous detail, manifest in the delineation of the ear, the eye, the plaited beard, the nostril, the thumbnails, and the feather pattern of the throne, is diagnostic for Egyptian drawing and relief of the fourth through first centuries B.C.

Courtesy of & currently located at the Brooklyn Museum, USA. Via their online collections. Accession Number: 37.52E.

Flake with drawing of Osiris seated on his throne within a shrine. Egyptian Ptolemaic Period, 305- 30 B.C.E.

Even if he were not labeled by the hieroglyphs at the right (“Osiris, the great god”), this deity would be easy to identify. Osiris, lord of the underworld, is always shown as a mummy, often wearing the White Crown of Upper Egypt adorned with two feathers of Ma’at (cosmic harmony). Here the god holds his characteristic crook and flail and is seated in a shrine or under a canopy.

Though the almond eye, long nose, and full lips suggest a New Kingdom date (Dynasties XVIII–XX, circa 1539–1070 B.C.), many other details indicate that the sketch was made in the Ptolemaic Period. The meticulous detail, manifest in the delineation of the ear, the eye, the plaited beard, the nostril, the thumbnails, and the feather pattern of the throne, is diagnostic for Egyptian drawing and relief of the fourth through first centuries B.C.

Courtesy of & currently located at the Brooklyn Museum, USA. Via their online collections. Accession Number: 37.52E.

Cave 19 at the Ajanta Caves, Maharashtra, India.

Ajanta contains 30 excavated rock-cut caves which belong to two distinct phases of Buddhism: the Hinayana phase (2nd century BC-1st century AD) and the Mahayana phase (5th century AD-6th century AD). These caves are considered to be one the finest examples of early Buddhist architecture, cave-paintings, and sculpture.

The Archaeological Survey of India, Aurangabad Circle, speaks specifically of Cave 19:

The small chityagriha [prayer hall] is considered one of the most perfect specimens of Buddhist art in India. The exquisitely decorated facade and beautiful interior form a grand combination of richness of detail and graceful proportion. The inscription in Cave 17 records that a feudatory prince under Vakataka King Harisena was a munificent donor of this cave, datable to the 5th century AD. It consists of a small but elegant portico, verandah, a hall, and chapels. The apsidal hall is divided into a nave, an elaborate and elongated drum, and a globular dome which stands against the apse. 

The pillars and the stupa are intricately carved with the figures of Lord Buddha and other decorative motifs. The sidewalls are also adorned with countless figures of Buddha while the ceiling is filled with painted floral motifs in which animals, birds, and human figures are cleverly interwoven. The chapel contains the panel of Nagaraja with his consort known for its serenity and royal dignity.

The first and second photos were taken by Kirk Kittell, the third is by Arian Zwegers.

Scenes from Aeschylus’s Oresteia portrayed on an Apulian red-figure bell-krater. This play was first performed 458 BC.
Following his return from Tory, Agamemnon is murdered by his wife Clytemnestra, and her lover. Orestes, the son of Agamemnon seeks revenge and kills Clytemnestra. The Erinyes (also referred to as the “Furies”) pursue Orestes for revenge.
Shown is side A, where Orestes is being purified by Apollo. Visible to the left is Clytemnestra trying to awake the sleeping Erinyes.
The following section is from Peter Burian & Alan Shapiro’s The Complete Aeschylus: Volume I: The Oresteia, Oxford University Press, 2011, pages 17-18:

The ghost of Clytemnestra, who stirs the sleeping Erinyes to continue their terrifying pursuit of her murderer-son, belongs entirely to the old world of retribution. […] The punishment they promise Orestes has the balance of an accountant’s ledger:
You’ll have to pay with your own blood for hers,
you’ll feel me suck the half-caked gore out of your living flesh;
swill from your very veins the vile dregs of the drink I crave.
I’ll shrivel you up and drag you, still alive into the underworld
where you will pay in currencies of torment for the murder of your mother. 
(1300-1309/ 264-68)
For the Erinyes, Apollo’s very sanctuary is polluted by the welcome Apollo has given to the blood-stained Orestes. Orestes, on the other hand, repeatedly emphasizes the purifications he has received there. Apollo confirms that he has purged his suppliant of the stain of guilt, and Athena accepts him as “a proper suppliant who is clean, who bears/ no danger to us”. Despite all that, the Erinyes still track him by the scent of blood […].

Artifact courtesy of & currently located at the Louvre, France. Greek, possibly from Armento, Eumenides Painter, 380–370 BC. Accession number: Cp 710. Photo taken by Bibi Saint-Pol.

Scenes from Aeschylus’s Oresteia portrayed on an Apulian red-figure bell-krater. This play was first performed 458 BC.

Following his return from Tory, Agamemnon is murdered by his wife Clytemnestra, and her lover. Orestes, the son of Agamemnon seeks revenge and kills Clytemnestra. The Erinyes (also referred to as the “Furies”) pursue Orestes for revenge.

Shown is side A, where Orestes is being purified by Apollo. Visible to the left is Clytemnestra trying to awake the sleeping Erinyes.

The following section is from Peter Burian & Alan Shapiro’s The Complete Aeschylus: Volume I: The Oresteia, Oxford University Press, 2011, pages 17-18:

The ghost of Clytemnestra, who stirs the sleeping Erinyes to continue their terrifying pursuit of her murderer-son, belongs entirely to the old world of retribution. […] The punishment they promise Orestes has the balance of an accountant’s ledger:

You’ll have to pay with your own blood for hers,

you’ll feel me suck the half-caked gore out of your living flesh;

swill from your very veins the vile dregs of the drink I crave.

I’ll shrivel you up and drag you, still alive into the underworld

where you will pay in currencies of torment for the murder of your mother.

(1300-1309/ 264-68)

For the Erinyes, Apollo’s very sanctuary is polluted by the welcome Apollo has given to the blood-stained Orestes. Orestes, on the other hand, repeatedly emphasizes the purifications he has received there. Apollo confirms that he has purged his suppliant of the stain of guilt, and Athena accepts him as “a proper suppliant who is clean, who bears/ no danger to us”. Despite all that, the Erinyes still track him by the scent of blood […].

Artifact courtesy of & currently located at the Louvre, France. Greek, possibly from Armento, Eumenides Painter, 380–370 BC. Accession number: Cp 710. Photo taken by Bibi Saint-Pol.

Human-headed winged bull and winged lion (lamassu). Neo-Assyrian, ca. 883–859 B.C. Nimrud (ancient Kalhu).

The so-called Standard Inscription that ran across the surface of most of the reliefs described Ashurnasirpal’s palace:
"I built thereon [a palace with] halls of cedar, cypress, juniper, boxwood, teak, terebinth, and tamarisk [?] as my royal dwelling and for the enduring leisure life of my lordship." 
The inscription continues: “Beasts of the mountains and the seas, which I had fashioned out of white limestone and alabaster, I had set up in its gates. I made it [the palace] fittingly imposing.” 
Such limestone beasts are the human-headed, winged bull and lion pictured here. The horned cap attests to their divinity, and the belt signifies their power. The sculptor gave these guardian figures five legs so that they appear to be standing firmly when viewed from the front but striding forward when seen from the side. These lamassu protected and supported important doorways in Assyrian palaces. (met)

Courtesy of & currently located at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, via their online collections. Accession Number: 32.143.1–.2

Human-headed winged bull and winged lion (lamassu). Neo-Assyrian, ca. 883–859 B.C. Nimrud (ancient Kalhu).

The so-called Standard Inscription that ran across the surface of most of the reliefs described Ashurnasirpal’s palace:

"I built thereon [a palace with] halls of cedar, cypress, juniper, boxwood, teak, terebinth, and tamarisk [?] as my royal dwelling and for the enduring leisure life of my lordship."

The inscription continues: “Beasts of the mountains and the seas, which I had fashioned out of white limestone and alabaster, I had set up in its gates. I made it [the palace] fittingly imposing.”

Such limestone beasts are the human-headed, winged bull and lion pictured here. The horned cap attests to their divinity, and the belt signifies their power. The sculptor gave these guardian figures five legs so that they appear to be standing firmly when viewed from the front but striding forward when seen from the side. These lamassu protected and supported important doorways in Assyrian palaces. (met)

Courtesy of & currently located at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, via their online collections. Accession Number: 32.143.1–.2

A quick look at: Senwosret III, the 5th king of Egypt’s 12th Dynasty. 
Who was he, and why is he so stern-looking in his artistic representations?
Pictured: Three granite statues of Senwosret III at the British Museum.
Following the decline of Egypt’s Old Kingdom (about 2613-2160 BC), royal power was devolved to nomarchs (provincial governors), leading Egypt into the First Intermediate Period.

Egyptologists traditionally distinguish between the major periods of pharaonic history on the basis of the political state of the country. ‘Kingdoms’ -defined as times of political unity and strong, centralized government -alternate with the ‘intermediate periods’, which are in contrast characterized by the rivalries of local rulers in their claims for power. (-Stephan Seidlmayer, in The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt, pg. 108).

The Middle Kingdom (approx. 2055-1650 BC), however, saw the re-centralization of power and the disappearance of these nomarchs and their families. Senwosret III was an instrumental player in this, with his domestic policy focused on reorganizing the administrative system; he also greatly strengthened Egypt’s control over Nubia. 
There is a significant difference between the royal statues of the Old and Middle Kingdoms. Those of the Middle Kingdom overall become larger in size, and markedly sterner-looking in expression. I side with those Egyptologists who suggest that the recent memory of the First Intermediate Period was the cause of this; following the loss of kingship to the nomarchs, the kings of the Middle Kingdom felt the need to exhort their power and authority in more obvious manners -such as through their artistic representations.

This powerfully realistic portrait of Senwosret III [the middle statue shown] was clearly intended to inspire awe in the onlooker. The authority of the Pharaoh is conveyed by the stern gaze and the downturned, almost grimacing, mouth. (-Rita Freed in Ancient Egypt, pg 218).

A good example which I usually give when comparing is this Old Kingdom statue of Khafre at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. 
Artifacts shown courtesy & currently located at the British Museum, London. Photo taken by Stevan Hubbard.

A quick look at: Senwosret III, the 5th king of Egypt’s 12th Dynasty.

Who was he, and why is he so stern-looking in his artistic representations?

Pictured: Three granite statues of Senwosret III at the British Museum.

Following the decline of Egypt’s Old Kingdom (about 2613-2160 BC), royal power was devolved to nomarchs (provincial governors), leading Egypt into the First Intermediate Period.

Egyptologists traditionally distinguish between the major periods of pharaonic history on the basis of the political state of the country. ‘Kingdoms’ -defined as times of political unity and strong, centralized government -alternate with the ‘intermediate periods’, which are in contrast characterized by the rivalries of local rulers in their claims for power. (-Stephan Seidlmayer, in The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt, pg. 108).

The Middle Kingdom (approx. 2055-1650 BC), however, saw the re-centralization of power and the disappearance of these nomarchs and their families. Senwosret III was an instrumental player in this, with his domestic policy focused on reorganizing the administrative system; he also greatly strengthened Egypt’s control over Nubia. 

There is a significant difference between the royal statues of the Old and Middle Kingdoms. Those of the Middle Kingdom overall become larger in size, and markedly sterner-looking in expression. I side with those Egyptologists who suggest that the recent memory of the First Intermediate Period was the cause of this; following the loss of kingship to the nomarchs, the kings of the Middle Kingdom felt the need to exhort their power and authority in more obvious manners -such as through their artistic representations.

This powerfully realistic portrait of Senwosret III [the middle statue shown] was clearly intended to inspire awe in the onlooker. The authority of the Pharaoh is conveyed by the stern gaze and the downturned, almost grimacing, mouth. (-Rita Freed in Ancient Egypt, pg 218).

A good example which I usually give when comparing is this Old Kingdom statue of Khafre at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. 

Artifacts shown courtesy & currently located at the British Museum, London. Photo taken by Stevan Hubbard.

Terracotta model cart, Mesopotamia, dates to the second half of the 3rd millennium BCE.

Animal-shaped pottery vessels mounted on oversized wheels had a long history in the ancient Middle East. This early example has the head of a ram with curving horns. Liquid poured into the hole on top flowed out of the opening in the animal’s snout. A loop on the front allowed the attachment of a cord so that the vessel could be pulled. Such vessels have been excavated in both temples and houses. They were probably used in religious or funerary rituals. 

Courtesy & currently located at the Brooklyn Museum, USA, via their online collections. Accession number: 87.77

Sculpture of Xolotl.

An important figure within the rituals surrounding the god Quetzalcoatl is Xolotl, his twin, a peculiar god in the form of a dog, identifiable by the many wrinkles on the sacred canine and the two rectangular protuberances on its head, relating it with the heavenly fire.
According to legend, to create man Quetzalcoatl traveled to the underworld to search for the bones of the ancestral generations, guarded over by Mictlantecuhtli; Quetzalcoatl had to take on the appearance of a dog to carry out this mission. And hairless, reddish dogs called xoloitzcuintli lead the dead on their journey to Mictlan.
Xolotl is the god of monstrosities and the patron of twins and animals that undergo transformations such as tadpoles that turn into frogs. Xolotl is also the planet Venus, the evening star, and is the companion and twin of Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli, Venus as the Morning Star, identified with Quetzalcoatl. (NMA)

Courtesy & currently located at the National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico. Photo taken by Travis S.

Sculpture of Xolotl.

An important figure within the rituals surrounding the god Quetzalcoatl is Xolotl, his twin, a peculiar god in the form of a dog, identifiable by the many wrinkles on the sacred canine and the two rectangular protuberances on its head, relating it with the heavenly fire.

According to legend, to create man Quetzalcoatl traveled to the underworld to search for the bones of the ancestral generations, guarded over by Mictlantecuhtli; Quetzalcoatl had to take on the appearance of a dog to carry out this mission. And hairless, reddish dogs called xoloitzcuintli lead the dead on their journey to Mictlan.

Xolotl is the god of monstrosities and the patron of twins and animals that undergo transformations such as tadpoles that turn into frogs. Xolotl is also the planet Venus, the evening star, and is the companion and twin of Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli, Venus as the Morning Star, identified with Quetzalcoatl. (NMA)

Courtesy & currently located at the National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico. Photo taken by Travis S.