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The Origins of MonstersImage and Cognition in the First Age of Mechanical Reproduction$
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David Wengrow

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780691159041

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691159041.001.0001

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Image and Economy in the Ancient World

Image and Economy in the Ancient World

The Bronze Age of Mikhail Rostovtzeff

(p.8) 1 Image and Economy in the Ancient World
The Origins of Monsters

David Wengrow

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines what led Mikhail Rostovtzeff, an ancient historian, almost a century ago to compare distributions of composite figures from China to Scandinavia. Rostovtzeff is known for his controversial view that the true architects of classical civilization were not those tied to the land, whether as peasant laborers or feudal aristocracy, but rather the middling professional classes of merchants, industrialists, and bankers whose social aspirations were most closely in tune with the civic values of an expanding urban society. Rostovtzeff was also embroiled in debates over the chronological position and cultural affiliations of Bronze Age metal hoards, unearthed along the shores of the Caspian and Black Seas. The chapter considers Rostovtzeff's approach to the interpretation of imagery, and his particular attraction to the imaginary creatures of nomadic art. It might be argued that the movements of monsters offered a kind of visual counterpart to Rostovtzeff's story of an ever-expanding Bronze Age civilization.

Keywords:   monsters, Mikhail Rostovtzeff, composite figures, China, Scandinavia, Bronze Age, metal hoards, imagery, nomadic art, Bronze Age civilization

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