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Fought between 499 and 449 BCE, the Greco-Persian Wars were a series of conflicts in which Greek city-states, and especially Athens, fought off the military advances of the sprawling Persian Empire. Today, it’s remembered for such storied events as the battles of Marathon (490 BCE) and Thermopylae (480 BCE). However, historical accounts of these conflicts come to us from Greek sources only, meaning they’re inevitably and unabashedly one-sided. And so, as the British Museum curator James Fraser explains in this video, by studying artefacts from this time period, historians can glean many details that the written histories lack. An accompaniment to the exhibition ‘Luxury and Power: Persia to Greece’, which is on display at the British Museum until 13 August 2023, this short features Fraser comparing wine vessels from the two warring civilisations. In doing so, he examines how, while Athens was able to repel the Persian military, the cultural impressions left by their items of ‘supreme luxury’ would leave a lasting mark.
Video by the British Museum
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