The date above suggested for the beginning of the period with which we have first to deal must not be regarded as making any pretense to exactitude. We have no means of assigning a definite date to any of the most primitive-looking pieces of Greek sculpture. All that can be said is that works which can be confidently dated about the middle of the sixth century show such a degree of advancement as implies more than half a century of development since the first rude beginnings.
Tradition and the more copious evidence of actual remains teach us that these early attempts at sculpture in stone or marble were not confined to any one spot or narrow region. On the contrary, the centers of artistic activity were numerous and widely diffused – the islands of Crete, Paros, and Naxos; the Ionic cities of Asia Minor and the adjacent islands of Chios and Samos; in Greece proper, Boeotia, Attica, Argolis, Arcadia, Laconia; in Sicily, the Greek colony Selinus; and doubtless many others. It is very difficult to make out how far these different spots were independent of one another; how far, in other words, we have a right to speak of local "schools" of sculpture. Certainly there was from the first a good deal of action and reaction between some of these places, and one chief problem of the subject is to discover the really originative centers of artistic impulse, and to trace the spread of artistic types and styles and methods from place to place. Instead of attempting here to discuss or decide this difficult question, it will be better simply to pass in review a few typical works of the early archaic period from various sites.
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