The J. Paul Getty Center in Los Angeles, USA, is hosting until September 3 2007 a fascinating exhibition dedicated to the civilisation of the Greeks at the Black Sea, were they were colonists, conquerors, sailors and merchants.

The first Greeks who ever sailed to the northern shores of the Black Sea, in the first decades of the seventh century BC were pioneers who had the courage to undertake such a risky voyage. The trip was long and difficult, the climate harsh and very different from the pleasant Mediteranean one, the waters unknown. Once they reached the shores, they often conflicted with the violent tribes that lived there. Yet the land was rich in resources, mainly grains, and the sea was rich with fish, so the colonisation began and in a short while the northern shores of the Black Sea were filled with Greek colonies which became important trade centers.

The J. Paul Getty Museum, in colaboration with the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg will once again bring to life this fascinating age in Ancient Greek history through an exhibition with 190 works from the Russian’s museum collections, presenting the variety of material discovered in the region. Some of the artworks and objects were brought to the colonies from Greece, others were made by the Greeks who lived on the shores of the Black Sea, while a handful are the creation of the Scythian craftsmen, who rapidly learned the techniques from the Greeks.

The first pieces of this kind were acquired by the Hermitage Museum in 1818, the objects being of great artistic and historical quality, which fueled the interest for more discoveries. Soon systematic arhaeological diggings began, and the Hermitage teams worked night and day, at the express request of the czar. After the Revolution of 1917, the czar’s collection was confiscated by the Soviet state, and the search continued for more artefacts. After the fall of the Soviet Union, all the discoveries made in the region are now property of the Ukraine and exhibited in this country’s museum.

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31 Jul 2007