The label "Orientalizing" describes changes in late 8th- and 7th-century Greek art and society that seem to betray eastern influences, such as the style of artistic depiction, the adoption of the Phoenician alphabet, and the practice of the symposium. Scholars have conceived of cultural change in this period as the result of flows of goods and ideas from east to west. This paper reconsiders the directionality of this east-west model, using network thinking and stylistic analysis to suggest the surprising ways in which the early Mediterranean was connected and to reveal new geographies of Orientalizing. Athens and its vase-painting, proto-Attic, provide a case study. Although it occupies a prominent position in the historiography of Greek archaeology, Athens in the 7th century was actually marginal to the main trade currents and political movements in the Mediterranean: eastern imports were nearly non-existent and the city did not join other regions in Greece in the colonizing phenomenon. How, then, can its Orientalizing style be explained and interpreted? In what ways was this marginal world connected to the Mediterranean, and why might that connectivity matter?
Nathan Arrington is Associate Professor of Classical Archaeology and founding Director of the Program in Archaeology at Princeton University. where he has taught since 2010. He received his A.B. from Princeton University, M.Phil. from Cambridge University, and Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. His first book, Ashes, Images, and Memories: The Presence of the War Dead in fifth-century Athens, was published by Oxford University Press in 2015, and a second book, on seventh-century Athens and the power of the margins, is under contract with Princeton University Press. He has excavated in Cyprus, Russia, Israel, Corinth, and Mycenae, and is co-director of the Molyvoti, Thrace, Archaeological Project ("Ancient Stryme.")