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Saber and Scroll

Abstract

While ancient Greece’s far-flung overseas slave trade deeply impacted neighboring cultures and displaced thousands of foreign people, it also acted as an unexpected catalyst that shifted the development of the art of southeastern Europe. Evidence suggests that the trade opened new societal elements that had not previously existed in either the Scythian culture of the Eurasian steppes or the Thracian tribes of the Balkans. As a result, the slave trade contributed to a significant change in the Scythians’ way of life that in turn introduced eastern artistic designs and techniques, a process known as “orientalizing,” that spread into the Balkans. Further, craftsmen of other cultures, such as the Celts who had moved into southeastern Europe from the west, quickly adopted and adapted the new designs. Beginning with the inception of Greek colonization in the seventh century BC, this dynamic, interwoven progression of artistic transmission was driven to a peak in the fourth century and subsequently carried beyond, both in time and distance.

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