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Arts & Culture

Ancient Race Relations Explained through Art

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VMFA
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There’s big excitement in Richmond over a surprising find - a work of art that carries an important message from the cradle of Western civilization.  Here’s what the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts bought from a dealer in London. 

In modern times, it’s common to hear conversations about race relations, but less is known about how people who looked different got along in ancient times. 

Now comes a work of art that offers an important clue. Peter Schertz is a curator at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

“You are looking at a beautiful depiction of a black African made by a Greek artist living in Southern Italy 2,300 years ago.”

The vase, in the shape of woman’s head, offers proof that ancient Greeks knew and admired people from Africa.

“Blacks were part of their world.  They were part of their world from Nubia, which for thousands of years had fought with Egyptians for control of the Nile Valley but also from West Africa.”

The work becomes part of the VMFA’s collection admired by museums around the world - about 150 ancient Greek vases.  

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