This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book traces the origins of art in the terms, as the European intellectual elite formulated the concept of art and founded museums, galleries, and academies to collect, classify and research new information about the world and its products. It examines how the category of Oriental art contributed to the construction of an enduring opposition between Asian and Western civilizations. The book shows how ideas of primitive art helped explain small societies as the inferior antecedents of those of their colonizers, as studied by anthropology to advance various theories of culture history. It considers how changing understandings of human origins involved artefacts treated as prehistoric art in issues around the character of human culture in general and the identity of non-Western cultures in particular.