This book, by Britain's most distinguished historian of ancient Greek art, recounts the influence of Greek communities and their culture through Central Asia, India and Western China, from the Bronze Age through to the rise of Islam.
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Boardman examines a wealth of art and artifacts as well as literary sources to reveal the remarkable influence of Greek culture upon peoples - Anatolians, Levantines, Persians, Asiatics, Indians, Chinese - whose settled civilizations were far older, with their own strong traditions in life, government and the arts. The Greeks were not empire-builders. They did not seek to conquer or rule. However, they were highly literate and adept at trade; they spread a monetary economy through Eurasia; their religion was easily adapted to that of others; their art developed a form of narrative that was to be dominant for centuries to come; and their poets and philosophers were widely respected outside their homeland. As Boardman notes, 'They are an odd phenomenon in world history. Through their travels they came to leave a very distinctive imprint on the lives and arts of many distant peoples, and over centuries, some to the present day'.