Circa 323 - 31 B.C.
Following the death of Alexander the Great, his kingdom was split into three
by his generals. The Antigonid dynasty maintained control of mainland Greece.
The Seleucids governed the entire eastern empire, the largest portion of the
territory, while the Ptolemies ruled the land of ancient Egypt.
The Hellenistic period was an international, cosmopolitan age. Commercial
contacts were widespread and peoples of many ethnic and religious backgrounds
merged in populous urban centers. Advances were made in various fields of
scientific inquiry, including engineering, physics, astronomy and mathematics.
Great libraries were founded in Alexandria, Athens and the independent kingdom
of Pergamum. The old beliefs in Olympian gods were infused with foreign elements,
especially from the east; "Oriental" ecstatic cults, such as those
of Cybele, Isis, and Mithras, become popular in the Hellenized world.
The 3rd century BC saw the rise of ancient Rome. After securing most of the
Italic peninsula, Rome entered into a protracted conflict with the Carthaginians
for control of Sicily, Spain and the other regions of Punic domination in
the Punic Wars. The former empire of Alexander was taken steadily and methodically
into Roman hands. The great city of Corinth was destroyed (146 BC), Athens
captured (86 BC), and Cleopatra and Mark Antony defeated at the Battle of
Actium (31 BC). Their defeat marks the end of the Hellenistic Age.
||Apulian Gnathian Squat Lekythos ca. 340-330 BC
On loan, Philadelphia Museum of Art
Gnathian-style pottery appeared around the middle of the 4th century BC
in the southern Italian region of Apulia. It takes its name from the site
of Egnazia where the style may have originated, although various centers
must have produced this type of pottery. The style is characterized by
black-glazed surfaces with polychrome decoration in red, white and yellow
comprising mostly floral and bird motifs. A similar style, called West
Slope, appeared in Athens around the end of the 4th century BC.
H. 19.9; Dia. 7.0 cm. Photo by Maria Daniels for the Perseus Project (165k)
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