When I teach Modern Art, sometimes I begin with this, The Great Pyramid of Egypt. Built around 2500 BC, it was the tallest building in the world for centuries and centuries at about 485 feet high.
Since at least Herodotus, the Pyramid appears in the ancient literature as an emblem of tyrannical vanity; vast anonymous masses toiling to gratify a narcissistic ruler. Though scholars and archaeologists now say that this was not quite the case (more like a vast public works project; all the laborers were paid complete with housing, medical care, and pensions), it remains a monument of the old pre-modern order. This is a huge monument made by command of the ruler by the ruled. It is made of limestone quarried from the earth. It is an eternal monument based on truisms that were thought to be eternal. Sinful humanity is condemned to toil and pain, working the earth to win their bread. Rulers were sent by the gods to look after and discipline inherently wayward men and women: "kings shall be thy nursing fathers and queens thy nursing mothers."
The human condition was thought to be as unchanging, solid, and eternal as this monument.
By the way folks, you can click on these images to get a much bigger view. Click and see how big The Great Pyramid really is.