The World of Ancient Art is an innovative exploration of the arts of antiquity, beginning with the earliest European cave paintings and continuing right up to the coming of Christianity and Buddhism in the Old World, and to the arrival of the Spaniards in the New World. Dividing the ancient world into three broad climatic categories - the northern nomadic, the temperate farmers and city-dwellers, and the tropical - Boardman focuses on common solutions that Man the artist has devised for the problems posed by his environment, a factor that also determined the nature of his society and its arts.
Sir John Boardman was born in 1927, and educated at Chigwell School and Magdalene College, Cambridge. He spent several years in Greece, three of them as Assistant Director of the British School of Archaeology at Athens, and he has excavated in Smyrna, Crete, Chios and Libya. For four years he was an Assistant Keeper in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, and he subsequently became Reader in Classical Archaeology and Fellow of Merton College, Oxford. He is now Lincoln Professor Emeritus of Classical Archaeology and Art in Oxford, and a Fellow of the British Academy, from whom he received the Kenyon Medal in 1995. He was awarded the Onassis Prize for Humanities in 2009. Professor Boardman has written widely on the art and archaeology of Ancient Greece.