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The Evolution of the Intercultural Relations Between Asia and Europe

The East always represented an inexhaustible source of inspiration for Western cultures. The age, the complexity and the prestige of some civilizations such as: the Assyro-Babylonian, the Persian, the Indian or the Arab civilizations, were the decisive elements of the massive “import” of myths, gods, symbols, ideas, customs and technological innovations from Asia to Europe, since the dawn of history. The intercultural contacts between the two continents were generated on the one hand by political and military reasons, on the other hand by commercial interests; religious and spiritual quests could be added. Migrations and people transmutations represented other opportunities for intercultural exchanges. Historians and archaeologists observed that between Europe and the Orient intercultural contacts were established since Neolithic.

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Later on, in Antiquity and the Middle Ages, a large number of discoveries from different areas of life spread out from Asia to Europe: the alphabet (the inhabitants of the Old Europe – as Marija Gimbutas named the Prehistory of Europe – had their own writing systems which, unfortunately, didn’t stand and were gradually replaced by the alphabet of Semitic origin that has been used in Europe, and not only, for about 3000 years), irrigation systems, silk, paper, banknote, gunpowder, saddle, abacus, chess, china etc. The Europeans also imported from Asia many types of food, beverages and spices: sugar, yoghurt, pasta, tea, coffee, black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom etc. There were some major spiritual borrowings from the Orient as well; the ancient Greek civilization (and after that the Roman civilization) adopted a variety of Oriental gods and myths: Hera, Aphrodite, Cybele, Artemis, and after the birth of Christianity, this new religion spread fast in the Roman Empire and then all over Europe. Influences occurred vice versa too, from Europe to Asia, an eloquent example being the military expedition of Alexander the Great to conquer Asia.

The great geographical discoveries and the establishment of the colonial empires increased the cultural exchanges between the Asian and European peoples; the European influences became more and more pithy, determining the modernization of the Asian continent.

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