Discovering Greco-Scythian Art
This chapter considers the two most fundamental assumptions about Greco-Scythian art in current understandings, both inside and outside academia. The first assumption is that the naturalistic genre scenes on the objects illustrated the world which the ancient producers and consumers of Greco-Scythian art saw around themselves. The second assumption is that these producers and consumers should be identified with the Greeks and Scythians represented in the textual tradition of the northern Black Sea region. The chapter also examines the risks involved in incorporating images with textual representations, as exemplified by the Russian scholar Mikhail Ivanovich Rostovtzeff in Iranians and Greeks in South Russia (1922), a book that deals with northern Black Sea archaeology and inspired by scenes of supposed mystery rituals on Greco-Scythian metalwork. Rostovtzeff suggested that the meeting of Greek and Iranian culture in the northern Black Sea region had created conditions similar to those prevailing in the Mediterranean after Alexander the Great's conquests, thus opening up new perspectives on Russia's cultural and spiritual foundations.
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