New York City, NY
For over three centuries, the territories and trading networks of the Middle East were contested between the Roman and Parthian Empires (ca. 100 B.C.–A.D. 250), yet across the region life was not defined by these two superpowers alone. Local cultural and religious traditions flourished, and sculptures, wall paintings, jewelry, and other objects reveal how ancient identities were expressed through art.
Featuring 190 works from museums in the Middle East, Europe, and the United States, this exhibition will follow a journey along the great incense and silk routes that connected cities in southwestern Arabia, Nabataea, Judaea, Syria, and Mesopotamia, making the region a center of global trade.
Several of the archaeological sites featured, including Palmyra, Dura-Europos, and Hatra, have been damaged in recent years by deliberate destruction and looting, and the exhibition will also examine these events and responses to them.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website
Whether or not you go, the companion pubication, The World between Empires: Art and Identity in the Ancient Middle East, is a timely and definitive exploration of the art and culture of the ancient civilizations situated between Rome and the Middle East that presents a new way of understanding the region’s influential heritage. It examines the cultural histories of Timna, Petra, Baalbek, Palmyra, Dura-Europos, and Hatra together for the first time, capturing the intricate web of influence that emerged in the Ancient Middle East through the exchange of goods and ideas across the region. Works illustrated and discussed include statues, coins, reliefs, architectural elements and friezes, painted tiles and wall fragments, jewelry, textiles, and more. The World Between Empires is the definitive book on this subject, preserving what has been lost to time or violence, and contextualizing the significance of these works on a local and global scale. Emerging as an urgent response to the destruction of cultural heritage in Iraq, Syria, and Iran, this publication examines the art and architecture of regions that served as major trade routes between the Roman and Parthian Empires from 100 B.C. to A.D. 250.
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