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TU Berlin

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A comparison in technology, spread and role of the bronze mirrors in ancient China and the greek world

Serguei Laptev (Moscow State University, Russia)

Bronze mirrors in Greece appeared in Mycenaean period, approximately the same time as in China during Shang dynasty. Despite this in Ancient period they had no contiguity and were developing independently from each other.

Bronze mirrors in China emerged without any outer influence and were developing by their own way. In the same time Greek bronze mirrors experienced the influence of Egyptian tradition and inherited its achievement and principles of fashion.

Based on the Egyptian achievements, Greek mirrors have been developed in complex and various forms connected with different technology of casting, and visible improvement of reflecting characteristics of bronze was reached.

The evolution of Chinese mirrors went on its own ways and its bloom falls to the medieval period. The emergence of so called "magic mirrors" shows us the absolutely different route of this evolution: seeking the new opportunities in the same forms and materials. Though Greek tradition continued by Romans, was looking for new combinations, which brought them away from bronze to the use of glass.

In the developed agricultural societies like China or Greece, mirrors were used first of all for the purpose of reflection, though penetrating to the nonagricultural periphery they became mostly an object for magic rituals and thus widely spread in the large areas of Europe and Asia.

In all cases, bronze mirrors, both in East and West became one of the most important technical achievements and necessary trade goods of that epoch.

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