I wasn't going to write more about the Terracotta Warriors of China and the recently formed theory that the 8,000 statues may have been crafted under the guidance of ancient Hellenic sculptors in 3rd Century BC. I reported on it, then on the subsequent row that formed in China and by global archaeologists alike. that was enough, as far as I was concerned, seeing as it's not exactly of interest to the modern Hellenist. It's just my inner history nerd that finds this interesting.

And then Heritage Daily wrote a background piece about this affair and darn it, it makes a few points that I do want people to read. Points that are of interest to the modern Hellenist because they speak to something that I encounter a lot: the glorification of ancient Hellas. I would like you to read the full article, but I am going to copy into this post the parts that jumped out at me.

"For centuries, archaeologists and art historians have been eager to see the imprint of the Greeks in works of art and architecture throughout the world. But this view rests on a Eurocentric logic which has long assumed other civilizations were fundamentally incapable of creating highly technical, impressive and aesthetically pleasing works of art.
In the West, classical Greek art and architecture is often presented as a singular achievement. The Greeks are credited with the invention of forms and techniques that were leaps and bounds ahead of their contemporaries. [...] Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, explorers and anthropologists [also] explained exotic foreign customs through a lens of Greek traditions. Likewise, travelers and archaeologists often fell back on theories of direct outside influence. How else could they explain sophisticated artistic techniques and engineering genius among “primitive” societies?
Whenever we say the cultural achievements of other societies are due to geographically remote – but familiar – genius and inspiration, there’s a cost. [...] It makes us forget the diversity of places that many look to for inspiration and validation. Erased are ideas of origins and narratives of belonging."

Ancient Hellenic culture produced many great thinkers, scientists and builders. There can be no debate about that. What can be debated, though, is that modern civilization started with them. When ancient Hellas was forming, the Egyptian empire had already largely formed and had made great advances in many fields of science, including medicine. By 1550 BC--long before Hypocrates--they had grasped the basics of medicine in examination, diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis. In the ancient Near East they were working on mathemetical laws millennia before Pythagoras became famous for them. And we're not even talking about the truly basic formation of civilization that started from at least 7000 BC on with the formation of a written script, the domestication of plants and animals and the fundamentals of astronmy and alchemy.

I am facinated with ancient Hellas and there is no denying that we have much to be grateful for when it comes to them. Astronomy, medicine, physics, biology, geology--the ancient Hellenes greatly furthered the research into all fields of science. But that is exactly what they did: they furthered it. And civilizations that rose after them furthered that knowledge even more until we end up where we are today.They did not rise to greatness in a vacuum. Many civilizations already existed, mixed and built with them. Not everything is Hellenic--and the ancient Hellenes don't have the basic and sole right to all advances in these fields. Great minds arose everywhere--that's what humanity does. that they came to simplar conclusions and had similar ideas is not unthinkable--and actually quite probable. It's the mixing of cultures we should be interested in, not in claiming victories for a sole people.