“Craftsmen and Worldviews in Dialogue”

Craftsmen and Worldviews in Dialogue: Perspectives from Seleucid-Parthian Iran

Antigoni Zournatzi

Dedication to Heracles Callinicus. Mt. Bisotun, Kermanšah province (Iran). 148 BCE. Photograph: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/dc/Bistoon_Kermanshah.jpg/800px-Bistoon_Kermanshah.jpg.  Picture licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Until about four decades ago, scholars commonly considered cultural developments in different regions of the Hellenistic East as either documenting a process of ‘Hellenization’ or, on occasion, as offering instances of a cultural and social segregation of native communities and the Greeks-Macedonians, who were physically established in eastern territories following Alexander’s campaigns. More recent studies and archaeological discoveries have broadened our scope on the complex cultural environments of the Greek presence in the East and have set parameters for more nuanced investigations of East-West cross-cultural phenomena initiated in the Hellenistic era.

This project focuses on select examples of large and small scale sculpture in metal and stone, stucco reliefs, terracotta statuettes and items of the minor arts of Seleucid-Parthian date (late 4th century BCE – early 3rd century CE) from the territory of the modern state of Iran which depict themes of religious significance. It seeks to expose the possibility of multiple facets and paths of a mutually enriching dialogue between the Greek and Iranian traditions of craftsmanship and religious worldviews through consideration of the iconographic, technical and stylistic features and, when known, initial physical setting and social contexts of the artifacts under study.