Top Ten Hellenistic Greek Artifacts

Top Ten  Hellenistic Greek Artifacts

       The Hellenistic period or Hellenistic civilization is the period of ancient Greek history between the death of Macedonian king Alexander the Great in 323 BC and the emergence of ancient Rome. During this time, Greek cultural influence and power was at its zenith in Europe and Asia, experiencing prosperity and progress in the arts, exploration, literature, theater  architecture, music, mathematics, philosophy and science. It is often considered a period of transition, sometimes even of decadence or degeneration, compared to the brilliance of the Greek Classical era. After Alexander the Great’s ventures in the Persian Empire, Hellenistic kingdoms were established throughout south-west Asia (Seleucid Empire, Kingdom of Pergamon) and north-east Africa (Ptolemaic Kingdom). This resulted in the export of Greek culture and language to these new realms, and moreover Greek colonists themselves. Equally, however, these new kingdoms were influenced by the indigenous cultures, adopting local practices where beneficial, necessary or convenient. Hellenistic culture thus represents a fusion of the Ancient Greek world with that of the Near East, Middle East and Southwest Asia, and a departure from earlier Greek attitudes towards “barbarian” cultures.  The Hellenistic periods was characterized by a new wave of Greek colonization (as distinguished from that occurring in the 8th-6th centuries BC) which established Greek cities and kingdoms in Asia and Africa. Those new cities were composed of Greek colonists who came from different parts of the Greek world, and not, as before, from a specific “mother city.” The main cultural centers expanded from mainland Greece to Pergamon, Rhodes, and new Greek colonies such as Seleucia, Antioch and Alexandria. This mixture of Greek-speakers gave birth to a common Attic-based dialect, known as Koine Greek, which became the lingua franca through the Hellenistic world. The Hellenistic period may be seen to end either with the final conquest of the Greek heartlands by Rome in 146 BC, with the final defeat of the Ptolemaic Kingdom at Battle of Actium in 31 BC, or even the move by Roman Emperor Constantine the Great of the capital of the Roman Empire to Constantinople in 330 AD.

  1. Winged Victory of Samothrace

    Hellenistic Greece, Samothrace (island in the North Aegean Sea), c. 190 BCE, Nike on the Prow of a Ship, called the “Winged Victory of Samothrace”, gray Lartos marble for the ship’s prow, white Paros marble for the statue, height  3.28 m (floor to top of wings) (10 feet 9 inches), Louvre.
    Links: Sculptures, Top 100 European Sculptures, Top 100 Greek Sculptures,
  2. Venus de Milo (100 BC)

    Description: Melos (the Cyclades islands), Aphrodite, known as Venus of Milo, c. 100 BC, marble, height 6 feet 10 inches (2 m), Louvre. Signed on the base: “[Alex?]andros son of Menides from Antioch-on-the-Meander made it”.
    Links: Sculptures, Top 100 European SculpturesTop 100 Greek Sculptures,
  3. Bronze Statuette of a Veiled and Masked Dancer (3rd–2nd Century BC)

    The complex motion of this dancer is conveyed exclusively through the interaction of the body with several layers of dress. Over an undergarment that falls in deep folds and trails heavily, the figure wears a lightweight mantle, drawn taut over her head and body by the pressure applied to it by her right arm, left hand, and right leg. Its substance is conveyed by the alternation of sharp pleats and flat surfaces as well as by their contrast to both the tubular folds pushing through from below and the freely curling softness of the fringe. The woman’s face is covered by the sheerest of veils, discernible at its edge below her hairline and at the cutouts for the eyes. Her extended right foot shows a laced slipper. This dancer has been convincingly identified as one of the professional entertainers, a combination of mime and dancer, for which the cosmopolitan city of Alexandria was famous in antiquity. The statue currently resides in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
    Links: Sculptures, Top 100 European SculpturesTop 100 Greek Sculptures,
  4. Apollo Belvedere (330 BC)

    This marble statue of Apollo Belvedere currently resides in the Vatican Museum.
  5. Borghese Gladiator (100 BC)

    Antium (Italy), 100 BC, Nude Male Combatant, called the “Borghese Gladiator”, marble, height  157 cm, Louvre.
    Links: Sculptures, Top 100 European SculpturesTop 100 Greek Sculptures,
  6. Bonus: Laocoön and His Sons

    This is a Roman copy of a Hellenistic original from 200 BC, marble, height  1.84 m, Vatican. Trojan priest Laocoön and his two sons are attacked at an altar by giant snakes. Pliny said it was the work of three sculptors from Rhodes, Hagesandros, Polydoros, and Athenodoros. The date of the Laocoon is controversial, some scholars arguing for the late second century BC, others for 50 BC.
  7. Bonus: Discus Thrower (Discobolus)

    The discuss thrower was originally a Hellenistic Greek bronze by Myron, however the statue we see today is a marble Roman copy of the original. (Hellenistic Greek, 485-425 BC).
  8. Homer Bust

    In the Western classical tradition, Homer is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and is revered as the greatest ancient Greek epic poet. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature. Herodotus estimates that Homer lived 400 years before Herodotus’ own time, which would place him at around 850 BC; while other ancient sources claim that he lived much nearer to the supposed time of the Trojan War, in the early 12th century BC. For modern scholars “the date of Homer” refers not to an individual, but to the period when the epics were created. The consensus is that “the Iliad and the Odyssey date from around the 8th century BC, the Iliad being composed before the Odyssey, perhaps by some decades,” i.e. earlier than Hesiod, the Iliad being the oldest work of Western literature. Over the past few decades, some scholars have argued for a 7th century BC date. Some of those who argue that the Homeric poems developed gradually over a long period of time give an even later date for the composition of the poems; according to Gregory Nagy for example, they only became fixed texts in the 6th century BC. The poems are generally seen as the culmination of many generations of oral story-telling, in a tradition with a well-developed formulaic system of poetic composition. Some scholars, such as Martin West, claim that “Homer” is “not the name of a historical poet, but a fictitious or constructed name.” The formative influence played by the Homeric epics in shaping Greek culture was widely recognized, and Homer was described as the teacher of Greece. Homer’s works, which are about 50% speeches, provided models in persuasive speaking and writing that were emulated throughout the ancient and Medieval Greek worlds. Fragments of Homer account for about half of all ancient Greek papyrus finds.
    Links: Top Ten Poets, Top 100 Busts,,
  9. Links: Artifacts, Top Ten European Artifacts, Top 100 Greek ArtifactsSculptures, Top 100 Greek Statues,