The World between Empires: Art and Identity in the Ancient Middle East
March 18–June 23, 2019
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.