Administration, Economy, Culture and Arts in the Seleucid Empire

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1 Administration, Economy, Culture and Arts in the Seleucid Empire 77

2 How was the Seleucid Empire administered? Greco-Macedonian political elite. Continued emigration from the over-populated Greek mainland. Achaemenid infrastructure was maintained. Seleucid dynasty married into Persian royalty. Garrisons and settlements were established throughout the empire to cement Greek/Macedonian rule. Cities retained Greek polis system with councils and elected magistrates. 78

3 Strategic and economic developments Seleucids dominated overland trade along the Silk Route between Mediterranean, India and Asia. Seleucid coins were an important currency along the Silk Road. Seleucid towns became centres for trade and cultural exchange. Provinces in the northeast suffered raids by nomadic horsemen. The Seleucids started to protect their key cities. Army was based on Greek soldiers and troops from Persia and Babylonia. 79

4 The Seleucids, expanded Merv and used the Achaemenid town as the citadel: the walls of Merv were 2km on each edge, and reached heights of 32m high. 80

5 The spread of Hellenism ( BCE) The indigenous aristocracy became Hellenised and adopted Greek practices and customs, yet local languages continued to be used in administration. Hundreds of new cities were established which adopted Hellenic philosophic thought, religious sentiments and politics, although Babylonian religious tenets were also incorporated to gain support. Seleucids made repeated attempts to force local communities into adopting Greek cultural heritage which often led to disaster (the Maccabean uprising in 165 BCE). 81

6 Culture in Seleucid Empire ( BCE) Greek became key language of commerce along Silk Road. Seleucids facilitated assimilation of Greeks but also Armenians, Persians, Medes, Assyrians, Jews and Indians. The Seleucid Empire did not become a centre of Hellenic culture and science, unlike Alexandria in Egypt. When immigration from Greece slowed down around 150 BCE, local languages and customs revived, reversing the Hellenization process. 82

7 Aï Khanum (300 BCE) Greco-Bactrian city (in NE Afghanistan) founded by followers of Alexander the Great after the conquests of ~330 BCE. In 150 BCE Greeks were driven out of Aï Khanum by Parthians from northern Central Asia. Ruins, discovered around 1970, revealed a royal city modelled on a Greek urban plan. Artefacts show that Greek styles had merged with Indian and local styles, evolving into a Greco-Bactrian style. 83

8 Ceremonial plate with representation of Cybele Aï Khanum; 3 rd century BCE; Gilded silver; diam. 25 cm 84

9 Corinthian capital from Aï Khanum; before 145 BCE; Limestone; H.74 cm 85

10 Hermaic pillar found in gymnasium; Aï Khanum BCE; Limestone; H. 77cm 86

11 Tillya Tepe (100 BCE-100 CE) Excavated in 1978; it contains tombs of a Kushan ruler and members of his household. Some 20,000 objects incl. many golden jewels and coins were recovered from six graves. Its artisans were influenced by Greek, Persian, Indian and Chinese styles. 87

12 Clasp ; Tillya Tepe; 1 st Centu Gold, turquoise; 6.5 x 7 cm 88

13 Gold ornament on chest Tillya Tepe; 1 st Century CE 89

14 Begram (1 st -2 nd century CE) Partially excavated in the 1930s and 1940s. Ruins of a 1 st -2 nd century CE trading house with numerous Silk Road trading goods. Art objects include bronzes from the Greco-Roman world and glass and porphyry from Roman Egypt, lacquered bowls from China, and ivory ornaments carved in India or locally Treasures reflect an East-Iranian culture with strong Hellenistic and Indian influences. Many other treasures were destroyed/looted by war. 90

15 Blue vase with openwork trailing Begram, 1 st century CE, H. 18 cm 91

16 Circular medallion showing young man; Begram; 1 st century CE; Plaster; Diam. 22 cm 92

17 Bronze pitchers; Begram; 1 st century CE H. 17 and 15 cm (note serpent along handle) 93

18 Syria (100 BCE- 100CE) 94

19 Bottle. Syria, late Seleucid-early Roman period. Circa 1st century BCE - 1st century CE. Mold-blown glass; H: 7.6 cm tle. Syria, late Seleucid-early an period. Circa 1st century E - 1st century CE. Blown Glass x 6 cm 95

20 Persia under the Seleucids Achaemenid system of communication was maintained. Newly founded cities between Seleucia-on-the-Tigris and Bactria. Susa in Babylonia became an important polis. Greek had replaced Aramaic as the common language but Aramaic survived as did other cultural features from pre-hellenistic times. Some branches of traditional intellectual activities excelled, e.g. astronomy. 96

21 rchitecture and art in Persia under Seleucid Few buildings from the Seleucid period survive: many were destroyed after 250 BCE when the Parthians took over. Below the Persepolis terrace are mud-brick structures, including a temple with Greek votive inscriptions. Seleucid building followed Greek traditions in the use of good stone, well-dressed masonry, marble and limestone columns. Fragments of large bronze Seleucid sculptures, as well as smaller works of Hellenistic art and figurines of deities indicate the wide use of metal in art. Seal impressions on tablets show entire figures, busts or only the head of Greek deities or heroes, portraits of Seleucid rules, masks and symbolic objects and religious scenes. 97

22 ding woman, 2nd century BC entury CE; Parthian period; bly Ctesiphon, Mesopotamia; aster; H. 27 cm) 98

23 harness ornament with an nd its prey. 1st century st century CE; Parthian Iran; Gold inlaid with ise; W. 3 5/16 in. (8.4 cm) 99

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