The earliest figurative sculpture is the ivory carving known as the Lion Man of the Hohlenstein Stadel (38,000 BCE).
Neolithic art is noted above all for its pottery, but it also featured free standing sculpture and bronze statuettes - in particular from the Indus Valley Civilization, the North Caucasus and pre-Columbian art in the Americas.
See: Pergamene School of Hellenistic Sculpture (241-133 BCE).
Famous works of Hellenistic Greek sculpture include: Dying Gaul by Epigonus; the Winged Victory of Samothrace; Laocoon and His Sons by Hagesandrus, Polydorus and Athenodorus (42-20 BCE), and the Venus de Milo.
Historically, nearly all Kings, Popes and tyrants have recognized the propaganda effect of inspirational sculpture.
Roman Emperors distributed portrait busts of themselves to every corner of their empire; the Roman Church decorated their cathedrals, abbeys and churches with tens of thousands of statues and relief sculptures to convey the message of the Bible; Pharaohs, Kings and Emperors from Ancient Egypt, Persia, Greece and the modern world, have invested fortunes in monumental sculpture to commemorate success in battle.