A Cultural Playdough: The Globalization of Classical Greek Art


  • Chuzheng Tan University of British Columbia


This article addresses the issue of the long-lasting perspective of Hellenocentrism and its influence on archaeological interpretation. Tying different globalization theories into this research, the paper aims to demonstrate the flexible definition of the term “classical”, and extend the conversation of how to define what is “classical”. In this paper, I dissect the traditional central-peripheral, in which the Greek World is centered in the viewpoints of the ancient Mediterranean world and Near Eastern regions. This paper examines the extensive cultural exchange and reciprocity of influences from Early Iron Age to the pre-Hellenistic, Late-Classical period, using archaeological, mostly monumental, examples from the Eastern sphere of antiquity, such as the Nereid Monument and Egyptian sculptures. Further examples such as the Pazyryk carving motifs are examined and compared to its Greek counterpart, to display the influence of Greek culture. This also shows the heavy mark of local style, revealing a multi-foci network model of culture exchange rather than a dictating, single-focused model of cultural dominance. Such localizations are seen throughout the wider antique world, as it is one of the keystones of constructing a globalized past, thus assigning a new and more inclusive meaning to “Classical”.