A recent article in the LA Times describes the threats faced by an ancient Afghan archaeological site, Mes Aynak. The threats include war, looting, and now bulldozing by a Chinese mining company searching for copper.
…a dozen archaeologists and 100 Afghan laborers are working like army ants to finish the dig. Many valuable relics were looted long ago, and the archaeologists won’t be able to save the ancient edifices from the mining company. But they can remove the statues, pottery and gold and silver coins still buried within the buildings.
“We don’t know exactly how much time we have to excavate the site. Sometimes the deadline is 14 months and sometimes it’s two years.”
Photographs of the excavation published online by the LA Times are available here.
With the help of a Preservation and Access Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and with additional funding from an anonymous donor, the Walters has completed its program to create digital surrogates of its collection of Islamic manuscripts and single leaves. Images are free for any noncommercial use, provided you follow the terms of the Creative Commons license specified by the museum.
Images of the manuscript are available for download from Flickr, including high-resolution images. Full manuscript PDFs (including data) are also available on the Walters website (see the above example here).
The Oriental Institute Museum exhibition Visible Language: Inventions of Writing in the Middle East is on view through Sunday March 6th.
Exhibit curator Christopher Woods, Associate Professor at the Oriental Institute, said, “In the eyes of many, writing represents a defining quality of civilization. There are four instances and places in human history when writing was invented from scratch — in Mesopotamia, Egypt, China and Mesoamerica — without previous exposure to or knowledge of writing. It appears likely that all other writing systems evolved from the four systems we have in our exhibition.”
For museum hours, click here.
The Modern Art Iraq Archive (MAIA) was made public this week. MAIA started as the result of a long-term effort to document and preserve the modern artistic works from the Iraqi Museum of Modern Art in Baghdad, most of which were lost and damaged in the fires and looting during the aftermath of the 2003 US invasion of Iraq. As the site shows, very little is known about many of the works, including their current whereabouts and their original location in the Museum. The lack of documents about modern Iraqi art prompted the growth of the project to include supporting text. The site makes the works of art available as an open access database in order to raise public awareness of the many lost works and to encourage interested individuals to participate in helping to document the museum’s original and/or lost holdings…
Via Access to Mideast and Islamic Resources (AMIR).
Iraq’s National Museum is expected to reopen in March, for the first time since Saddam Hussein’s rule. Although the Assyrian and Islamic displays were reinstalled in two main rooms in 2008, they have only been accessible to VIPs and invited groups. “It will be the answer to my dreams when we can finally reopen to the public,” said Amira Edan, the museum’s director.
Discussion of an international tour of Iraqi antiquities is also underway. Chicago’s Field Museum is mentioned in the above article as a potential host for the tour.
The Aga Khan Award for Architecture was established in 1977 to enhance the understanding and appreciation of Islamic culture as expressed through architecture. The 19 nominees for the 11th cycle have been announced. The nominees, which include a textile factory in Turkey, a school built on a bridge in China and a wetlands project in Saudi Arabia, will be competing for the prestigious award. Visit the Award’s website for more information about the 19 nominees. You can also download high resolution images of each nominated building.
“Through a new collaboration among Islamic-studies scholars, librarians, and curators, Harvard University has cataloged, conserved, and digitized Islamic manuscripts, maps, and published texts from its renowned library and museum collections. The result is a new online collection comprising more than 145,000 digital pages available to Internet users everywhere.”
The collaboration, known as the Islamic Heritage Project, includes materials that date from the 13th to the 20th centuries CE and include various regions, languages, and subjects. More informaton about the scope and content of the project is available here.