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Power and Pathos: Bronze Sculpture of the Hellenistic World Symposium VII: Hellenistic Invention: Theory and Practice

Richard Mason, lecturer on classical archaeology and art and history of museums, University of Maryland, Baltimore County. The exhibition Power and Pathos: Bronze Sculpture of the Hellenistic World, on view at the National Gallery of Art from December 13, 2015, to March 20, 2016, presents some 50 bronze sculptures and related works, dating from the fourth century BC to the first century AD. They span the Hellenistic period, when the art and culture of Greece spread throughout the Mediterranean and lands once conquered by Alexander the Great. The exhibition provides a unique opportunity to witness the importance of bronze in the ancient world, when it became the preferred medium for portrait sculpture. In this public symposium held on March 18 and 19, 2016, in conjunction with the exhibition, Richard Mason offers a broad overview of Hellenistic science and technology—suggesting connections between developments in diverse fields as a result of royal patronage that supported the scholarly community. Select examples cited include Eratosthenes on measuring the Earth’s circumference, Herophilos and Erasistratos on anatomical research, Ktesibios on hydraulics and pneumatics, Ktesibios’s successors on instruments, the Antikythera mechanism, and the ancient sailing vessel Syracusia of Hieron designed by Archimedes.