The Art of the Middle East Including Persia, Mesopotamia and Palestine

By Leonard Woolley | Go to book overview

CHAPTER V
SYRIA AND PALESTINE: FROM THE EARLIEST TIMES UNTIL THE CONQUEST OF ALEXANDER

Until very recent times the writer on Phoenician art was wont -- and indeed was obliged -- to illustrate his thesis by means of objects found not in Phoenicia itself but in Cyprus, a Phoenician colony, in Greece and Etruria and as far away as Utica and Carthage. In all those countries antiquities abound which bear unmistakably the mark of Phoenician style and technique, and yet there is a certain disadvantage in employing them as illustrations of Phoenician handiwork. The Cypriote colony was relatively small but extremely active in manufacture, and since Cyprus had a culture of its own the products of the Phoenician factories were likely to show certain modifications of the styles prevalent upon the Asiatic mainland -- and where Asiatic evidence was lacking the extent of such modification could not well be determined. A Phoenician bowl discovered in an Etruscan tomb might have been made in Cyprus or on the North African coast (a silver platter from Praeneste is almost certainly the work of a Carthaginian engraver) and might show features characteristic of the colony and not of the mother country. Because the present history is arranged on a territorial basis, and because modern excavations -- especially those of Ugarit and Byblos -- have produced a mass of material of unquestionably Phoenician origin, the following chapter deals almost exclusively with objects discovered in Phoenicia itself.

The brief description of the country given in our first chapter sufficiently explains its art history. In so far as it was the land-bridge between Asia Minor and Africa, it was necessarily exposed to the cultural influences of its neighbours at either end of that bridge, and because both of those neighbours alike regarded it as a thoroughfare not only for their traders but also for their armies, the sphere of cultural influence was apt to become one of political subjection. Although the Syrian desert was a barrier minimising contact with Sumer, yet the trade-route along the Fertile Crescent was continued by the road running south from Aleppo, so that in the time of the Third Dynasty

THE SETTING

mainly of metal, were found in the temple, some of which show an astonishing degree of craftsmanship and artistic ability. Cf. pp. 105, 114.

-101-

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