Thursday, July 17, 2003

City Art Museum helps to exhibit a carved city of ancient Jordan



By Marilyn Bauer
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[IMAGE] The Bust of Dushara, a 1,600-pound sandstone head of a bearded male god, is displayed at a news conference Wednesday at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.
(Associated Press photo)
The Cincinnati Art Museum announced Wednesday a joint exhibition with the American Museum of Natural History in New York of 200 objects from the southern Jordanian city of Petra. Presented under the patronage of Queen Rania of Jordan, "Petra: Lost City of Stone" is the first major cultural collaboration between Jordan and the United States.

It was conceived by the museum's curator of classical and Near Eastern art and art of Africa and the Americas, Glenn Markoe. "Petra" is the most comprehensive exhibition ever presented on the ancient city and its creators, the Nabataeans.

The exhibit will open in New York on Oct. 18 and in Cincinnati in September 2004.

Petra, literally carved from red sandstone cliffs, stood at a nexus of international silk and spice trade routes linking China, India and Southern Arabia with Greece, Rome, Egypt and Syria. From the second century B.C. to the second century A.D. it was governed by the Nabataeans, who were renowned for their skills in agriculture, engineering and architecture.

The exhibition's more than 200 objects include stone sculptures and reliefs, ceramics, metalwork, stuccowork, ancient inscriptions and a selection of 25 paintings, drawings and prints from the 19th century. Recently discovered archaeological finds will also be included.

"Petra is the story of the remarkable transformation of the Nabataeans, who evolved from nomads to city dwellers in a relatively short period of time, and who built one of the great urban complexes of the ancient world," said Markoe.

"It is also a story of the rediscovery of this lost civilization through physical exploration in the early 19th century, and then through scientific, archaeological and ecological research, which makes it possible to relate the history of the Nabataeans in exhibition format."

The CAM has the most extensive and important collection of Nabataean art works outside Jordan, excavated in 1937 at the site of Khirbet Tannur and originally divided between American and Jordanian authorities.

The exhibition will bring together both parts of the collection for the first time

"Petra is a story not only of the Nabataeans, but also of the unique collaboration between Jordan and the United States," said Cincinnati Art Museum Director Timothy Rub.

E-mail mbauer@enquirer.com




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