Oriental studies  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Oriental studies is the academic field of study that embraces Near Eastern and Far Eastern societies and cultures, languages, peoples, history and archaeology; in recent years the subject has often been turned into the newer terms of Asian studies and Middle Eastern studies. Traditional Oriental studies in Europe is today generally focused on the discipline of Islamic studies, while the study of China, especially traditional China, is often called Sinology and the study of East Asia, especially in the United States, is often called East Asian studies.

European study of the region formerly known as "the Orient" had primarily religious origins, which has remained an important motivation until recent times. Learning from Arabic medicine and philosophy, and the Greek translations from Arabic, was an important factor in the Middle Ages. Linguistic knowledge preceded a wider study of cultures and history, and as Europe began to encroach upon the region, political and economic factors encouraged growth in academic study. From the late 18th century archaeology became a link from the discipline to a wide European public, as treasures brought back filled new European museums. The modern study was influenced both by imperialist attitudes and interests, and also the sometimes naive fascination of the exotic East for Mediterranean and European writers and thinkers, captured in images by artists, that is embodied in a repeatedly-surfacing theme in the history of ideas in the West, called "Orientalism". In the last century, scholars from the region itself have participated on equal terms in the discipline.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Oriental studies" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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