After finishing my Art History course, I started to ponder on how nature has affected humanity. Nature is all around us. The human species is shaped by nature, especially its history. Art is an expression of humanity, and one common definition of art is that it is intentionally made. Art includes paintings and it influences architecture. Many patterns in art and architecture were inspired by nature, such as the Fibonacci sequence in Sunflowers, or the golden angle in the phyllotaxis of plants. Some of the columns used in Ancient Egypt had carved Papyrus leaves, and the Corinthian and Composite Orders of the Greco-Romans were influenced by Acanthus leaves. The Vikings had a Gripping Beasts motif and the use of swirling, intricate vines, and Arabic mosaics often showcases greenery with Palm or Date Trees of Paradise. It is often thought that Ziggurats built by the Sumerians at Ur, the Great Pyramids of Giza at Cairo, and the Pyramid of the Sun at Teotihuacán were meant to emulate mountains. What are some other ways that nature has influenced history and art?
This is an immense subject… I do not even know where to start, though recently I did a research on the subject.
But you can start from fungi and from mycophobous and mycophilous nations :-)
Hawksworth, D.L., 1996. Mycophobia and Mycophilia. Nature 379, 503–504.
And the book which made a basis to it all:
Wasson, V.P., Wasson, R.G., 1957. Mushrooms, Russia and History. vol. 1, 2 Pantheon
Books, New York. Westman, W.E., 1977.
Dugan, F.M., 2008. Fungi in the Ancient World: How Mushrooms, Mildews, Molds and
Yeast Shaped the Early Civilizations of Europe, the Mediterranean and the near east.
APS Press, St. Paul.
Well, yeast ecology has played a critical role in fueling the creative process in many fields, including in most aspects of the arts.
You mentioned Mesoamerican pyramids. Well, expanding that further, Mayan temples often had images of revered animals – feathered serpents, jaguars, the bat-god. Animals also appear in Mayan glyphic writings, which is why we refer to Mayan kings by names like Thirteen Rabbit, Smoking Squirrel, or Moon Jaguar.
We can also recall that every food crop had a wild ancestor. A wild grass, teosinte, allowed grain agriculture to develop in the Americas, and thereby made possible great civilizations from Cahokia to the Incas.