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Full Access Orientalised Hellenism versus Hellenised Orient:Reversing the Perspective on Gandharan Art

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Orientalised Hellenism versus Hellenised Orient:Reversing the Perspective on Gandharan Art

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Abstract Studies on Gandharan art have not yet produced an unbiased interpretation of its participation in the wide phenomenon of ‘Hellenism’. This incertitude is mirrored by ambiguous and debatable definitions such as ‘Hellenised Orient’ or ‘Gréco-bouddhique’, which contain an implicit, though mostly unintentional, notion of civilising influence. The emphasis on Hellenistic forms may mislead our interpretative efforts, especially when, as in the case of India, art history is based on weak historical grounds. Indeed, in order to develop more effective analytical tools we have to draw upon methodical and scientific archaeology. The aim of the present work is to offer an overview of the most important achievements of the IsIAO’s Italian Archaeological Mission in Pakistan with regard to the vexata quaestio of the inception of Gandharan art and, implicitly, the inclusion of Hellenistic elements into the local figurative languages. In the course of over fifty years of field research the Italian Archaeological Mission has created a repository of data that enables us to bring vis-à-vis the single site and the regional environment, as well as the religious settlement and the lay world around, thus providing reliable grounds for a better understanding of the historical, political and social framework of Gandharan art and its Hellenistic components.

10.1163/157005712X638663
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Abstract Studies on Gandharan art have not yet produced an unbiased interpretation of its participation in the wide phenomenon of ‘Hellenism’. This incertitude is mirrored by ambiguous and debatable definitions such as ‘Hellenised Orient’ or ‘Gréco-bouddhique’, which contain an implicit, though mostly unintentional, notion of civilising influence. The emphasis on Hellenistic forms may mislead our interpretative efforts, especially when, as in the case of India, art history is based on weak historical grounds. Indeed, in order to develop more effective analytical tools we have to draw upon methodical and scientific archaeology. The aim of the present work is to offer an overview of the most important achievements of the IsIAO’s Italian Archaeological Mission in Pakistan with regard to the vexata quaestio of the inception of Gandharan art and, implicitly, the inclusion of Hellenistic elements into the local figurative languages. In the course of over fifty years of field research the Italian Archaeological Mission has created a repository of data that enables us to bring vis-à-vis the single site and the regional environment, as well as the religious settlement and the lay world around, thus providing reliable grounds for a better understanding of the historical, political and social framework of Gandharan art and its Hellenistic components.

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2012-01-01
2016-12-10

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