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Arts of the Hellenized East: Precious Metalwork and Gems of the Pre-Islamic Era

Martha L. Carter


A beautifully produced guide to one of the world’s most spectacular collections of Hellenistic and Islamic silverwork

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The al-Sabah Collection, Kuwait, houses one of the world’s most spectacular collections of ancient silver vessels and other objects made of precious metals. Dating from the centuries following Alexander the Great’s conquest of Iran and Bactria in the middle of the 4th century BCE up to the advent of the Islamic era, the beautiful bowls, drinking vessels, platters and other objects in this catalogue suggest that some of the best Hellenistic silverwork was not made in the Greek heartlands, but in this eastern outpost of the Seleucid empire. Martha L. Carter connects these far-flung regions from northern Greece to the Hindu Kush, tracing the common cultural threads that link their diverse geography and people.

The last part of the book, by Prudence O. Harper, deals with an important group of Sasanian silver vessels and gems, and some other rarities produced in the succeeding centuries for Hunnish and Turkic patrons. The catalogue is accompanied by an essay on the technology of ancient silver production by Pieter Meyers, who has performed a number of scientific tests on the objects, including a new metallurgical analysis that may help to identify their geographical origins.

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Product Information

Book Details

Format: Paperback

Size: 27.6 x 21.9 cm

Extent: 424 pp

Publication date: 2 February 2017

ISBN: 9780500970706

Contents List

Foreword by Sheikh Nasser Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah; Author’s Preface • Introduction: Excursus: On the cultural history of the Sasanian Empire in the East • Notes on Proposed Groups in the Entries • Catalogue entries [in four groups] • The Triumph of Dionysos in Asia [illustrated essay by Prudence O. Carter] • Technical Examination of Silver Objects in this Catalogue [by Pieter Meyers] • Cleaning of Ancient Silver in the al-Sabah Collection [by Sophie Budden, head conservator]

About the Author

Martha L. Carter has taught and curated at institutions including the Cleveland Museum of Art and the University of Wisconsin.

Prudence O. Harper is Curator Emerita in the Department of Ancient Near Eastern Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Pieter Meyers is an independent scholar and Senior Research Chemist at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

List of Contributors

Prudence O. Harper, Pieter Meyers