Saturday, May 26, 2018

What the First Millenium BCE looked like around the world

Following my last blog post about paintings of eigth century CE archaeological sites relating to four very different cultures, I decided to write about paintings of archaeological sites from the same geographical regions Americas & Pacific, Europe, Near East & Africa and Asia reflecting third century BCE sites.

Once again, Europe was the area for which I didn’t already have a painting, and I selected the island of Delos in Greece.  Despite the title, it and the other paintings posted here do not in fact show 'what the third century BCE looked like' at all.  They show what some third century BCE sites look like now  except for the painting of the plank longhouse, which is based on an old photograph and shows what the coastal settlements looked like in the nineteenth century.
Located at the centre of the Cyclades, Delos was an important centre in Greek mythology and history. The Terrace of the Lions, shown here, originally had as many as twelve squatting, snarling marble guardian lions when built in the seventh century BCE. However, following the death of Alexander the Great in the fourth century, increasing political disarray, the lack of water and trading infrastructure on Delos caused the island to go into decline.  It was for a time the centre of the slave trade and eventually came under Roman control. 

Americas & Pacific
First Nations of the British Columbia coast and islands of Haida Gwai built the first permanent habitation in that region plank longhouses in the late fourth and third centuries BCE. 

Near East & Africa
When Alexander the Great died, his empire was divided among three of his generals. North Africa, the part that went to General Ptolemy fared much better than the European and eastern Mediterranean sectors.  The city of Ptolemais in present day Libya was founded in the third century BCE by Ptolemy III, a descendant of Gen. Ptolemy. Much later, after the Romans took over, Diocletian imposed wage and price controls, which I have superimposed on this computer painting.  

Meanwhile, in the Far East, construction of the Great Wall of China began late in the third century during the last years of the Qin Dynasty.  It was expanded, strengthened and maintained by the Emperors of the Han Dynasty (206 BCE - 220 CE).