Orientalizing Period
Overview
 
In the history of ancient Greece
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

, the Orientalizing period is the cultural and art historical
Art history
Art history has historically been understood as the academic study of objects of art in their historical development and stylistic contexts, i.e. genre, design, format, and style...

 period informed by the art of Anatolia
Phrygia
In antiquity, Phrygia was a kingdom in the west central part of Anatolia, in what is now modern-day Turkey. The Phrygians initially lived in the southern Balkans; according to Herodotus, under the name of Bryges , changing it to Phruges after their final migration to Anatolia, via the...

, Syria
Syro-Hittite states
The states that are called Neo-Hittite, or more recently Syro-Hittite, were Luwian, Aramaic and Phoenician-speaking political entities of the Iron Age northern Syria and southern Anatolia that arose following the collapse of the Hittite Empire around 1180 BC and lasted until roughly 700 BC...

, Assyria, Phoenicia and Egypt
Third Intermediate Period of Egypt
The Third Intermediate Period refers to the time in Ancient Egypt from the death of Pharaoh Ramesses XI in 1070 BC to the foundation of the Twenty-Sixth Dynasty by Psamtik I in 664 BC, following the expulsion of the Nubian rulers of the Twenty-Fifth Dynasty....

, which started during the later part of the 7th century BCE. It encompasses a new, Orientalizing style, spurred by a period of increased cultural interchange in the Aegean world. The period is characterized by a shift from the prevailing Geometric style to a style with different sensibilities, which were inspired by the East.
Encyclopedia
In the history of ancient Greece
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

, the Orientalizing period is the cultural and art historical
Art history
Art history has historically been understood as the academic study of objects of art in their historical development and stylistic contexts, i.e. genre, design, format, and style...

 period informed by the art of Anatolia
Phrygia
In antiquity, Phrygia was a kingdom in the west central part of Anatolia, in what is now modern-day Turkey. The Phrygians initially lived in the southern Balkans; according to Herodotus, under the name of Bryges , changing it to Phruges after their final migration to Anatolia, via the...

, Syria
Syro-Hittite states
The states that are called Neo-Hittite, or more recently Syro-Hittite, were Luwian, Aramaic and Phoenician-speaking political entities of the Iron Age northern Syria and southern Anatolia that arose following the collapse of the Hittite Empire around 1180 BC and lasted until roughly 700 BC...

, Assyria, Phoenicia and Egypt
Third Intermediate Period of Egypt
The Third Intermediate Period refers to the time in Ancient Egypt from the death of Pharaoh Ramesses XI in 1070 BC to the foundation of the Twenty-Sixth Dynasty by Psamtik I in 664 BC, following the expulsion of the Nubian rulers of the Twenty-Fifth Dynasty....

, which started during the later part of the 7th century BCE. It encompasses a new, Orientalizing style, spurred by a period of increased cultural interchange in the Aegean world. The period is characterized by a shift from the prevailing Geometric style to a style with different sensibilities, which were inspired by the East. The intensity of the cultural interchange during this period is sometimes compared to that of the Late Bronze Age.

Background

During this period, the Assyria
Assyria
Assyria was a Semitic Akkadian kingdom, extant as a nation state from the mid–23rd century BC to 608 BC centred on the Upper Tigris river, in northern Mesopotamia , that came to rule regional empires a number of times through history. It was named for its original capital, the ancient city of Assur...

ns advanced along the Mediterranean coast, accompanied by Greek mercenaries, who were also active in the armies of Psammeticus
Psammetichus
Psammetichus or Psamtik was the name of three Egyptian pharaohs of the 26th Saite Dynasty.*Psammetichus I*Psammetichus II*Psammetichus III...

 in Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

. The new groups started to compete with established Greek merchants. In other parts of the Aegean
Aegean Sea
The Aegean Sea[p] is an elongated embayment of the Mediterranean Sea located between the southern Balkan and Anatolian peninsulas, i.e., between the mainlands of Greece and Turkey. In the north, it is connected to the Marmara Sea and Black Sea by the Dardanelles and Bosporus...

 world similar population moves occurred. Phoenicians settled in Cyprus
Cyprus
Cyprus , officially the Republic of Cyprus , is a Eurasian island country, member of the European Union, in the Eastern Mediterranean, east of Greece, south of Turkey, west of Syria and north of Egypt. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.The earliest known human activity on the...

 and in western regions of Greece, while Greeks established trading colonies
Colonies in antiquity
Colonies in antiquity were city-states founded from a mother-city—its "metropolis"—, not from a territory-at-large. Bonds between a colony and its metropolis remained often close, and took specific forms...

 at Al Mina
Al Mina
Al-Mina is the modern name given by Leonard Woolley to an ancient trading post on the Mediterranean coast of northern Syria, in the estuary of the Orontes, near present-day Samandag in Turkey's province of Hatay....

, Syria, and in Ischia
Ischia
Ischia is a volcanic island in the Tyrrhenian Sea. It lies at the northern end of the Gulf of Naples, about 30 km from the city of Naples. It is the largest of the Phlegrean Islands. Roughly trapezoidal in shape, it measures around 10 km east to west and 7 km north to south and has...

 (Pithecusae) off the Tyrrhenian coast of Italy. These interchanges led to a period of intensive borrowing in which the Greeks adapted cultural features from the Semitic
Semitic
In linguistics and ethnology, Semitic was first used to refer to a language family of largely Middle Eastern origin, now called the Semitic languages...

 East into their art. (Burkert 1992:128 et passim).

New materials and skills

Massive imports of raw materials, including metals, and a new mobility among foreign craftsmen caused new craft skills to be introduced in Greece. In The Orientalizing Revolution: Near Eastern Influence on Greek Culture in the Early Archaic Age, Walter Burkert
Walter Burkert
Walter Burkert is a German scholar of Greek mythology and cult.An emeritus professor of classics at the University of Zurich, Switzerland, he also has taught in the United Kingdom and the United States...

 described the new movement in Greek art as a revolution: "With bronze reliefs, textiles, seals, and other products, a whole world of eastern images was opened up which the Greeks were only too eager to adopt and adapt in the course of an "orientalizing revolution" (Burkert 1992:128). Many Greek myths
Greek mythology
Greek mythology is the body of myths and legends belonging to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. They were a part of religion in ancient Greece...

 originated in attempts to interpret and integrate foreign icons in terms of Greek cult and practice.

Impact on myth and literature

Some Greek myths reflect Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

n literary classics. Burkert (1992:41-88) has argued that it was migrating seers and healers who transmitted their skills in divination and purification ritual along with elements of their mythological wisdom. He has suggested direct literary Eastern influence in the Homeric literature. The intense encounter during the orientalizing period also accompanied the invention of the Greek alphabet, based on the earlier phonetic but unpronounceable Phoenician writing, which caused a spectacular leap in literacy and literary production, as the oral traditions of the epic began to be transcribed onto imported Egyptian papyrus (and occasionally leather).

The Orientalizing style in pottery

In Attic pottery, the distinctive Orientalizing style known as "proto-Attic" was marked by floral and animal motifs; it was the first time discernibly Greek religious and mythological themes were represented in vase painting. The bodies of men and animals were depicted in silhouette, though their heads were drawn in outline; women were drawn completely in outline.

At the other important center of this period, Corinth
Corinth
Corinth is a city and former municipality in Corinthia, Peloponnese, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Corinth, of which it is the seat and a municipal unit...

, the orientalizing influence started earlier, though the tendency there was to produce smaller, highly detailed vases in the "proto-Corinthian
Corinthian order
The Corinthian order is one of the three principal classical orders of ancient Greek and Roman architecture. The other two are the Doric and Ionic. When classical architecture was revived during the Renaissance, two more orders were added to the canon, the Tuscan order and the Composite order...

" style that prefigured the black-figure technique.

Cultural predominance of the East, identified archaeologically by pottery, ivory and metalwork of eastern origin found in Hellenic sites, soon gave way to thorough Hellenization
Hellenization
Hellenization is a term used to describe the spread of ancient Greek culture, and, to a lesser extent, language. It is mainly used to describe the spread of Hellenistic civilization during the Hellenistic period following the campaigns of Alexander the Great of Macedon...

 of imported features in the Archaic Period
Archaic period in Greece
The Archaic period in Greece was a period of ancient Greek history that followed the Greek Dark Ages. This period saw the rise of the polis and the founding of colonies, as well as the first inklings of classical philosophy, theatre in the form of tragedies performed during Dionysia, and written...

 that followed. In the West, Etruscan civilization
Etruscan civilization
Etruscan civilization is the modern English name given to a civilization of ancient Italy in the area corresponding roughly to Tuscany. The ancient Romans called its creators the Tusci or Etrusci...

 passed through an Orientalizing period approximately at the same time, ca. 730-580 BCE.

From the mid-sixth century, the growth of Achaemenid power in the eastern end of the Aegean and in Asia Minor, reduced the quantity of eastern goods found in Greek sites, as the Persians began to conquer Greek cities in Ionia
Ionia
Ionia is an ancient region of central coastal Anatolia in present-day Turkey, the region nearest İzmir, which was historically Smyrna. It consisted of the northernmost territories of the Ionian League of Greek settlements...

, along the coast of Asia Minor.

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