Friday, March 15, 2019

“The World Between Empires” at the Met

EXHIBITION: See Ancient Trade Route Treasures at the Met. “The World Between Empires,” linking present and past, celebrates the distinctive art from all the cultures of the Middle East (Holland Cotter, New York Times).
Finally, through their arrangement of those objects — around 190, which date roughly from 100 B.C. to 250 A.D. — the curators make clear why imperial Rome and Parthia were so invested on asserting control of the Middle Eastern “world between”: because one of the most extensive and lucrative trade routes on earth stretched across it, and, gallery by gallery, culture by culture, the exhibition traces its path.

This begins in Southwestern Arabia (modern-day Yemen) and moves north to the kingdom of Nabataea — an ally of the Roman Empire — with its rock-cut capital at Petra (now in Jordan). From there the route continues through the rebellious territory of Judaea (Israel and Palestine), to the ritual center of Heliopolis-Baalbek in present-day Lebanon. Finally come the route’s grand, easternmost cities, until very recently well-preserved ruins: Palmyra and Dura-Europos in Syria, and Babylon and Hatra in Iraq. In the art at each stop, imperial influence is evident, if only as an overlay, and local traditions hold their own.
The article has good photos of many of the remarkable objects in the exhibition. Looks well worth a visit.

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