You have another chance to see the “Roads of Arabia” exhibition of Saudi antiquities if you missed it in Washington, DC at the Freer|Sackler Smithsonian museums of Asian art earlier this year. The landmark show opens to the public today at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh after the grand opening gala last night. The “Roads of Arabia: Archaeology and History of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia” will run in Pittsburgh through November 3, 2013. The exhibit is described by the Carnegie Museum of Natural History:
This landmark exhibition presents more than 7,000 years of largely unknown cultural history of the Arabian Peninsula. Roads of Arabia examines the impact of ancient trade routes that traversed the peninsula, carrying precious frankincense and myrrh to the Mesopotamian and Greco-Roman world and allowing for a vibrant exchange of both objects and ideas. With the later rise of Islam, pilgrimage roads converged on Mecca (Makkah) and gradually replaced the well-traveled incense roads.
Roads of Arabia is an unprecedented assembly of more than 200 recently excavated objects, none of which had been seen outside of Saudi Arabia until 2010. These objects include:
- prehistoric tools
- vessels in ceramic, stone, glass, and bronze
- inscriptions, seals, and tablets in a variety of media
- jewelry of bone, shell, gold, precious stones, and silver
- stele, commemorative slabs made of stone or wood
- funerary objects
- figural sculpture in stone, bronze, and ceramic, ranging in size from miniature to monumental
- bas-relief and architectural sculpture
- incense burners, lamps and other household items
- inscribed tombstones
- silk and textiles
Carnegie Museum of Natural History is one of only five North American venues to host Roads of Arabia: Archaeology and History of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The “Roads of Arabia” exhibit, the first of its kind in the United States, was open in Washington from November 17, 2012 to February 24, 2013 at the Freer|Sacker. Today we provide for your consideration a report from P.K. Abdul Ghafour writing for Arab News about the opening in Pittsburgh along with background information on “Roads of Arabia” provided by VOA at the time of the Washington exhibition. You can get more information about this important cultural exhibit at the “Roads of Arabia” web site.
P.K. Abdul Ghafour
Friday 21 June 2013
The prestigious Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh will be hosting a special collection of 227 archaeological “masterpieces” from Saudi Arabia for three months.
The “Roads of Arabia” exhibition will be opened in the city today by Prince Sultan bin Salman, president of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA), and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett.
Saudi Ambassador to Washington Adel Al-Jubeir, Arab diplomats and a number of Saudi and American officials, academics and archeologists will attend the opening ceremony.
The exhibition is entitled “Saudi Archaeological Masterpieces through the Ages.” The relics are from the Paleolithic Age (one million BC) until the establishment of the Saudi state. Five other US museums will host the exhibition over the next two years.
It focuses on the influence of ancient trade routes that crossed the Arabian Peninsula and allowed for trade and cultural exchange between different civilizations. It also features a range of recently discovered relics from these routes including glass dishes, alabaster bowls, bronze statues, pottery and heavy gold earrings.
The exhibits were already displayed at the Smithsonian Sackler Museum in Washington, where the exhibition had its first US show after visiting four European cities. It will visit three more American cities — Houston, Chicago and Boston.
In a statement after opening the show at the Smithsonian Sackler Museum last year, Prince Sultan said it would highlight the Kingdom’s cultural and historical significance. “This is a new window to see a country that has never been thought of or seen in the arena of heritage, civilization and culture,” he said.
The collection includes artifacts taken from the National Museum in Riyadh, King Saud University Museum, King Fahd National Library, King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, King Abdul Aziz Library in Madinah, in addition to a number of antiquities found in the latest archaeological excavations.
During its European tour, the show drew more than 1.5 million visitors. The Louvre in France was the first leg of the exhibition in Europe. It then moved to Spain where it was hosted by La Caixa Foundation in Barcelona before being hosted by the State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia and the Pergamon Museum in Berlin, Germany.
Roads of Arabia: Archaeology and History of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is organized by the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution in association with the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. ExxonMobil and Saudi Aramco are gratefully acknowledged as principal co-sponsors of the tour of Roads of Arabia in the United States. Sponsorship is also provided by The Olayan Group and Fluor Corporation. The Boeing Company, Khalid Al Turki Group, Saudi Basic Industries Corporation SABIC, and Saudi Arabian Airlines granted additional support.
Local sponsorship of Roads of Arabia is provided by Buchanan, Ingersoll, Rooney PC; Koppers; People’s Gas; and American Middle East Institute. Additional support is provided by the Layan Cultural Foundation.
About the Exhibit
- Saudi treasures go to Pittsburgh – Arab News – June 21, 2013
- Roads of Arabia Home Page
- Roads of Arabia Exhibition Home Page – Smithsonian
- Event: Roads of Arabia – Nov 17-Feb 24 – Washington – SUSRIS – Nov 5, 2012
- Roads of Arabia Bibliography (.pdf)
- In ‘Roads of Arabia,’ dusting off ideas about a kingdom and civilization – Washington Post – Nov 14, 2012
- “Roads of Arabia” Presents Hundreds of Recent Finds That Recast Region’s History – Smithsonian Magazine – Nov 15, 2012
- Uncovering the hidden bodies in Saudi art – BBC – Nov 16, 2012
- ‘Routes of Arabia’ Exhibition at Louvre Is Startling – NY Times – Jul 23, 2010
DOCUMENTARY WEBSITES/VIDEO PROFILES
- “The Frankincense Trail” – BBC
- “Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet” – PBS
- “Eagle’s Nest, Jubbah, Saudi Arabia” – By Richard T Bryant, GigaPan
- “Transformation: New Life for Saudi’s Urban Heritage” – Documentary on Saudi Urban heritage preservation
- “Caravan Kingdoms: Yemen and the Ancient Incense Trade” – Freer | Sackler
- National Museum, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
- Virtual Tour of the National Museum, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
SAUDI ARAMCO ARTICLES
- “Roads of Arabia”- By Richard Covington, 2011
- “Discovery at al-Magar” – By Peter Harrigan, 2012
- “Mapping Arabia” – Written by James V. Parry, Maps courtesy of Bukhari Collection of Antique Maps of Arabia, 2008
- “New Pieces of Mada’in Salih’s Puzzle” – By Peter Harrigan, 2007
- “Journeys of Faith, Roads of Civilization” – By David W. Tschanz, 2004
- “The Hidden History of Scented Wood” – By Erik Hansen, 2000
- “Art Rocks in Saudi Arabia” – By Peter Harrigan, 2002
- “Early Mankind in Arabia” – By Norman M. Whalen and David W. Pease, 1992