Around the mid-sixth century BCE, Greek vase-painters began depicting mythological episodes involving the hero Herakles set in Libya and Egypt. While these are typically seen as visualizations of Greek preoccupation with barbarian “others,” closer examination reveals a more complex reality.
Our understanding of ethnic diversity within the classical world owes much to how museums have curated their Greco-Roman antiquities. These collections were strongly influenced by the interests and values of the original collectors themselves, many of whom were antiquarians living and working in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. This article raises the question of whether their traditions have had an impact on how we understand and curate Black bodies in Greco-Roman galleries today.
Why would nineteenth-century abolitionists be attracted to the work of slave-owning leaders in ancient Greece and Rome? The answer shows us how using difficult histories can help fuel moral movements.
In celebration of Black History Month in North America, Ancient World Magazine is publishing a short series of articles looking at the reception of antiquity in the African diaspora and African peoples in the ancient world.