A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Monday, November 19, 2012

"Roads of Arabia" at the Smithsonian

4th Millennium BCE Stele, Ha'il, 

In the midst of the war in Gaza, and what may be a week of fear and bloodshed for Israelis and Palestinians alike, I thought I should start the week with something more positive: what sounds like a truly remarkable new exhibit at the Smithsonian's Freer and Sackler Galleries of Asian Art: Roads of Arabia: Archaeological History of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The exhibit, which opened at the Sackler on Saturday and will run through February 24 for those of you within reach of Washington; later it will be visiting Houston, Chicago and San Francisco.  I admit I haven't yet seen it myself and may write more once I have (perhaps over Thanksgiving weekend), but am basing this on the exhibition site linked above, and these reviews by the BBC and The Washington Post.

[BBC link was broken but should work now.]
The exhibition stems from the fact that after years of neglecting or downplaying its pre-Islamic history and archaeology, the Kingdom is now encouraging not only its study but even exploring the possibilities of pre-Islamic sites like Mada'in Salih as potential tourist sites. As I said I haven't seen it yet and will reserve any personal observations until I have,  but everything I've linked to here makes it sound very worth a look.
Ancient Trade Routes in Arabia

No comments: