Students in many cultures have been expected to learn the history of their people, but few items can help them to understand how a culture really works better than the art created by those who live through it. Each area of the world has its own resources, and artists have long been known to create their art from the environment that surrounded them. It is little wonder that many art history majors know and understand how cultures functioned in the long ago past and even in the recent past.
Ancient cultures are covered mostly in classes on anthropology and ancient history, but art majors also have classical art that covers the same period. For them, the important features are the strides made by inhabitants who brought forth art even in the most difficult circumstances. Without the ability to communicate worldwide, the ancient artisans managed to enhance their culture with beauty that was made from local ingredients.
As the world became more settled, art took on new forms. Students of art history are aware of the turmoil of the dark ages and the Renaissance in Europe through the beautiful creations that have survived into modern times. They learn to spot the important events through the freedom given to artists of the time by those who supported them, and they get glimpses into the societal changes that led to the creation of the modern world.
Over the last few centuries, art has changed many times. This is due to enhance communication as well as the ability of artists to study and create with less censure than in previous centuries. Their freedom has given mankind and history a chance to be truthfully reflected in the art that defines many cultures, and it has also given those cultures a chance to view themselves and see how history will view them.