Europe Meets the World

The exhibition in Copenhagen (prolonged until August) is not just about history and war, conflict and suppression. The meeting with foreign cultures brought with it new knowledge and bustling trade. The exhibition begins with ancient Greece, which became Europe’s gateway to the civilisations of the Middle East. At the outset, the interaction was mainly from east to west: for example, the Greeks’ adoption of the Phoenician alphabet. From ancient Greece, the exhibition moves on to the Roman Empire, which was the dominant power in Europe in the centuries after Christ’s birth. Although the various peoples and cultures of the Roman provinces had to swear allegiance to the Emperor, local customs and traditions were not suppressed, which helped to stimulate the entire continent’s cultural development. The first centuries after Christ’s birth saw a major expansion of trade and a burgeoning globalisation process. People traded with each other throughout the Roman Empire. Moreover, ceramics and other Roman goods were carried to far more distant lands. From the Orient, caravans brought costly treasures such as spices and silks back to Europe. “In nomine domini” (in the name of the Lord) is the inscription on the blade of a sword made to be used in the Crusades. One of the swords is exhibited in the show. The exhibition leads the visitor towards contemporary Europe, the result of the continent’s history and its encounters with the rest of the world.