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A new study shows that individual potters have their own styles even when making standard traditional vessels.

A 100-year research project on the results and finds from Ur has concluded.

The BBC has a story and video on Mada’in Saleh, Saudi Arabia’s counterpart to Petra.

An unparalleled collection of Judaica amassed by one of the greatest Jewish dynasties in the world and not seen in public for over a century is to be sold at auction.”

“A museum in Israel on Monday postponed its planned auction of dozens of rare Islamic antiquities after word of the sale sparked a public uproar.”

A rare EID MAR gold coin celebrating the assassination of Julius Caesar became the most valuable Roman coin ever when it sold for nearly $3.5 million.

In light of the major earthquake on the Greek island of Samos, Leon Mauldin shares some biblical background, photos, and a map.

Eisenbrauns is hosting a virtual panel on November 11 with three authors discussing their new books and answering questions.

The 4th edition of Mark Wilson’s Biblical Turkey is now available.

HT: Joseph Lauer, Agade, Ted Weis

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“A joint report by German and Syrian organisations has documented severe damage to Syria’s historical heritage and antiquities.” (Report on Academia)

“An ancient cave decorated with distinguished engravings depicting scenes of animals has been discovered at Wadi Al-Zulma in North Sinai.”

“The southern region of Najran [in Saudi Arabia] is set to become the largest open museum of rock inscriptions in the world.”

Egypt is proposing a merger of its tourism and antiquities departments.

“British anti-racism protestors called for the destruction of Egypt’s Giza Pyramids on Sunday, after tearing down a statue of a slave trader in the city of Bristol and throwing it in the Avon river.”

“A comparison between the names mentioned in the biblical book of Jeremiah and those appearing on archaeological artifacts from the period when the prophet is believed to have lived – around the sixth to seventh centuries BCE – offers support to its historicity.”

The British Museum blog: “Whip up a classical feast with nine recipes from ancient Greece and Rome.”

The latest British Museum travel guide is for Thebes in the 13th century BC.

New: Unearthing the Bible: 101 Archaeological Discoveries That Bring the Bible to Life, by Titus Kennedy. The author was on the Eric Metaxas show recently discussing the book.

Coming soon: The Case for Biblical Archaeology: Uncovering the Historical Record of God’s Old Testament People, by John D. Currid (also in Logos)

Carl Rasmussen shares photos of Aphrodisias, one of the most beautiful antiquity sites in Turkey and one that many tourists never see (including, sadly, your roundup writer).

“Windows into the Bible” is a new podcast by Marc Turnage that looks at geographical, cultural, historical, and spiritual contexts. I’ve been told the episode on Pilate is quite intriguing.

HT: Joseph Lauer, Charles Savelle, Agade, Ted Weis, Explorator

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(Post by A.D. Riddle)


The “Roads of Arabia” exhibition ends its U.S. tour on January 18, 2015, at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. The website does not indicate any further venues for the exhibition, so this might be the last chance to see it. Here are some of our posts about it on this blog (from most recent to earliest):

Roads of Arabia Volume in PDF (July 02, 2014) [The pdf is still available as far as we can tell]
Roads of Arabia Exhibition (June 24, 2014)
Roads of Arabia in Houston (January 08, 2014)
Roads of Arabia Exhibition: Update (April 23, 2013)
Museums and Cultural Heritage (April 05, 2011)
Archaeology of Saudi Arabia (February 27, 2011)

The official website of the “Roads of Arabia” exhibition is online here. I did not notice before that the site has a downloadable “Roads of Arabia Bibliography” at the bottom of this page (direct link). This looks like a helpful resource to have on hand. The first two items of the bibliography are exhibition catalogs. The first of these can be downloaded at the link given above. The second one looks very similar to the first catalog, but it is not exactly the same. Poking around online, I was able to locate a few of the individual chapters. These appear to have better quality images than the full-volume pdf.

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art also has a downloadable bibliography related to the exhibition. 
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(Post by A.D. Riddle)

In response to a post last week in which we mentioned the book Roads of Arabia: Archaeology and History of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Harry Orenstein has alerted us to the existence of a pdf of the volume. The file (22.2 MB) can be downloaded from the website of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities using the last link on this page. It is a pdf of the English version of Roads of Arabia. The quality of the images has been degraded, so the pdf does not replace the printed book, but it does make the volume searchable and much easier to move around.

There are a few other documents as well. Here are direct links to each:

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(Post by A.D. Riddle)


A friend and I recently took a 24-hour road trip to Kansas City, Missouri to see the “Roads of Arabia” exhibition. We have been following the exhibition on this blog since just after it began showing in 2010 (see here), and it looks like Missouri is about as close as it was ever going to get to where I live.
The exhibition was larger than I had envisioned and it took about four-five hours to explore most of the exhibit (we had to skim over some parts). It begins with stone tools from the Lower Paleolithic and works its way up to the modern kingdom of Saudi Arabia. I learned a lot of interesting things, and there were a few surprises. Writing the curator in advance ensured I was able to take photographs, but that did not stop guards and docents from stopping us several times and telling us photography was not permitted. If you visit the exhibit, do not assume you will be able to take pictures—find out ahead of time, if that is something you want to do.

My interest in going was motivated by (1) the difficulty (or impossibility) of ever visiting Saudi Arabia to see these objects and sites, and (2) the occasional connections to Arabia sprinkled throughout the Bible. In particular, the exhibit displayed a number of objects from these biblical sites/kingdoms:

  • Midian
  • Dedan
  • Kedar (Qedar)
  • Sheba/Sabeans
  • Tema
  • Nabateans
Stela of Babylonian king Nabonidus from Tema.
The exhibition catalog was available in the museum store for $70, and after him-hawin’ over the price tag, I decided to get it. It was well-worth the cost.
Al-Ghabban, Ali Ibrahim;  Béatrice André-Salvini; Françoise Demange; Carine Juvin; and Marianne Cotty, eds.
2010 Roads of Arabia: Archaeology and History of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Paris: Somogy Art Publishers and Musée du Louvre; Washington, D.C.: Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution.
The volume is 607 pages long, and it is far more than a catalog. Not only does it have high-quality color photographs of all the objects on display, it has chapters on archaeology and history, each accompanied by maps, site plans, drawings and photographs. The chapters that caught my eye were:
  • “Geographic Introduction to the Arabian Peninsula,” by Paul Sanlaville
  • “The Story of the Origins,” by D. T. Potts
  • “Antiquity,” by Christian Julien Robin
  • “Languages and Scripts,” by Christian Julien Robin
  • “The Frankincense Caravans,” by Françoise Demange
  • “North-Eastern Arabia (circa 5000-2000 BC),” by D. T. Potts
  • “The Kingdom of Midian,” by Abdulaziz bin Saud Al-Ghauzzi
  • “The Oasis of Tayma,” by Arnulf Hausleiter
  • “Dedan (al-Ula),” by Said F. Al-Said
  • “The Kingdom of Lihyan,” by Hussein bin Ali Abu Al-Hasan  
The full table of contents is available in pdf here.

The book does not appear to be affordably priced at Amazon ($221), but it can be ordered from the Smithsonian ($79.50 including shipping) or from the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art ($82.50 including shipping). One blogger gives something of a book review here with several snapshots of pages.

Here is a list of stops the “Roads of Arabia” exhibition has made since it opened in 2010.

2010
Jul 14–Sep 27 Musée du Louvre, Paris
Nov 12–Feb 27 CaixaForum, Barcelona

2011
May 17–Sep 4 The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg

2012
Jan 26–Apr 9 Pergamon Museum, Berlin
Nov 17–Feb 24 Smithsonian Institution’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Washington, DC

2013
Jun 15–Nov 4 Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Pittsburgh
Dec 22–Mar 9 The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

2014
Apr 25–Jul 6 Neslon-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO
Oct 17–Jan 18 Asian Art Museum, San Francisco

I continue to see notices that the exhibition will show in Chicago and Boston, but no locations or dates have been given yet.

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(Post by A.D. Riddle)

We have been following the journey of the “Roads of Arabia” exhibition since its opening in 2011. (Previous posts can be seen here, here, and here.) It is now being shown at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX, until March 9. An article in the Houston Chronicle describes the exhibit and provides hi-resolution images of some of the highlights. Further information can be found at the Museum of Fine Arts website and at the Roads of Arabia exhibition website.

Roads of Arabia: Archaeology and History of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia examines the impact of ancient trade routes that traversed the Arabian Peninsula, carrying precious frankincense and myrrh to Mesopotamia and the 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 and gradually replaced the well-traveled incense roads.

This unparalleled exhibition features objects excavated from more than 10 archaeological sites throughout the peninsula. Among the works on view are alabaster bowls and fragile glassware, heavy gold earrings, and monumental statues. These objects testify to the lively mercantile and cultural exchange between the Arabs and their neighbors, including the Egyptians, Syrians, Babylonians, and Greco-Romans.

The surprising discoveries on display in Roads of Arabia open a new window onto the culture and economy of this ancient civilization. The unprecedented assembly made its U.S. debut at the Smithsonian Institution’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in 2012 before traveling to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh. An earlier version of the show was exhibited in Barcelona, Berlin, Paris, and Saint Petersburg.

 Sandstone statue of Lihyanite ruler from Al-Ula.
4th-3rd centuries B.C.
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