Monday, June 20, 2011

Bryn Mawr Classical Review :: Chersonesan Studies 1

Chersonesan Studies 1
By Richard Posamentir
Richard Posamentir (ed.), The Polychrome Grave Stelai from the Early Hellenistic Necropolis. Chersonesan Studies, 1. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2011. Pp. xvi, 489. ISBN 9780292723122. $75.00.

Reviewed by Linda Maria Gigante, University of Louisville

" ... The most interesting aspect of this study is the identity of the painted stelai as products of a "mixture of identities." While Chersonesos was founded by Greeks, the city's population came to include settlers from the Black Sea region and indigenous peoples. The stelai they chose to commemorate their loved ones, in their form and decoration, proclaimed these cross-cultural connections. The 2011 publication by the Getty Research Center, Cultural Identity in the Ancient Mediterranean (edited by E.S. Gruen), underscores the growing importance of this type of research, for no longer can we study peoples of the Mediterranean in isolation. The painted stelai from Chersonesos demonstrate that by the Early Hellenistic period the descendants of the original Greek settlers had absorbed aspects of native Black Sea culture.

This monograph is beautifully produced, with numerous tables and catalogues, all with high quality images. Aside from a few minor typographical errors, the text is well-written and the material carefully organized. It is a publication intended for the specialized reader, one with a firm foundation in Greek funerary art and painting. It could not have been produced without the collaboration of American, western European and Ukrainian experts, as well as the resources of the Institute of Classical Archaeology at the University of Texas-Austin and the Packard Humanities Institute. Scholars in the field of ancient painting anxiously await the second volume of Chersonesan Studies on the painted panels and sarcophagi. This reviewer will find it especially interesting to see how these monuments compare with the painted funerary objects from Hellenistic Greece and the degree to which three-dimensionality is suggested."

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