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date: 02 February 2023

Graeco-Persian stylelocked

Graeco-Persian stylelocked

  • Michael Vickers

Extract

An amalgam of Greek and *Achaemenid Persian stylistic traits. The Persian conquest of Lydia and Ionia in the 6th cent. bce led to craftsmen from the west working for Persian patrons. A foundation tablet from the palace of *Darius I at *Susa attests the activities of Ionian and Carian masons and carpenters. *Theodorus (1) of Samos was commissioned to make a gold wine-mixing bowl for Darius' bedroom (Ath. 12. 515a), and a golden vine encrusted with emeralds and rubies that ‘grew’ over the Great King's bed is also attributed to him (Athen. 12. 514f; Himer.Ecl. 31. 8). Nothing on this scale survives in precious metal: some silver-gilt phialai, ‘libation bowls’ (one from *Rogozen), indicate the ways in which Persian motifs might be rendered by Greek or Ionian craftsmen. The degree to which monumental Achaemenid sculpture depended on Greek stylistic norms is uncertain; there may well have been a two-way traffic between the Greek and Persian worlds, and matters will be clearer when chronological issues are resolved. By the later 5th cent., there is a genre of Persian gem-engraving that is distinctively Greek in both form and content. In contrast with the formality of Achaemenid court art, ‘Graeco-Persian’ *gems display a range of motifs showing the home life of Persian aristocrats, their hunting activities, and their prey.

Subjects

  • Greek Material Culture
  • Near East

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