How many of us took dhow trips to Tarut Island, climbed around the old fort, spent time pot-picking in the Eastern Province or explored Qaryat-al-Faw or Mada'in Saleh? Who didn't sometimes wonder what other treasures and tales lay buried and hidden beneath the sandy surface of those places so familiar to us...Jubail, Hofuf, and even Dammam? A traveling exhibit could finally satisfy a little of that curiosity.
The "Roads of Arabia"
exhibit, currently at the Smithsonian's Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, offers a rare chance to tour ancient Arabia through a remarkable collection of over 300 historical and archaeological artifacts, many of which have only recently been unearthed. The collection features pieces spanning the entire Arabian Peninsula and thousands of years (4th millennium B.C. to the early 20th century).
In addition to Islamic era relics, such as ancient funerary steles from the region around Mecca, an old door from the Ka'ba, the exhibit includes archaeological finds from Tarut, now thought to have been the center of Dilmun at one time, as well as from Thaj (~80 km west of Jubail) where archaeologists recently discovered an ancient, Hellenistic burial chamber with solid gold jewelry, masks, and the remains of a young girl. Artifacts from the ruins of Dedan (modern-day al-Ula near Mada'in Saleh) are windows into the ancient kingdom of Lihyan which predated the Nabataeans and covered much of the same area. The list is impressive, especially when you consider how relatively young the field of archaeology is in Saudi Arabia!
"Roads of Arabia" will be on display at Freer/Sackler through February 24th, 2013. If you live in the Washington, D.C. area, don't miss it! Future exhibit locations are:
- Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX - Dec 22, 2013 - Mar 9, 2014
- Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, CA - Oct 17, 2014 - Jan 18, 2015
- Chicago, IL - location and dates not yet announced.
If you would like to plan a trip or learn more about the exhibit, visit the official site
. Some other great sources of information on the exhibit: