April 25–July 6, 2014
This landmark exhibition presents more than 7,000 years of largely unknown cultural history of the Arabian Peninsula. Roads of Arabia examines the impact of ancient trade routes that traversed the peninsula, carrying precious frankincense and myrrh to the Mesopotamian and 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 (Makkah) and gradually replaced the well-traveled incense roads.
Roads of Arabia is an unprecedented assembly of more than 200 recently excavated objects, none of which had been seen outside of Saudi Arabia until 2010.
Anthropomorphic Stele, 4th millennium B.C.E. El-Maakir-Qaryat al-Kaafa, near Ha'il, Saudi Arabia. Sandstone. National Museum, Riyadh
Funerary Mask, Thaj, Tell al-Zayer, Saudi Arabia, 1st century C.E. Gold, H x W: 6 11/12 x 5 1/12 inches. National Museum, Riyadh, 2061. Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA)
Anthropomorphic Stele, Near al-Ula-Mada'in Saleh-Tayma, Saudi Arabia, 4th millennium B.C.E. Sandstone, H x W: 36 1/4 x 8 1/4 inches. National Museum, Riyadh, 997. Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA)
Tombstone of 'Abbas, Son of 'Abdallah, Son of Muhammad, Son of Nasih, al-Ma'la Cemetery, Mecca, Saudi Arabia, 9th century C.E. Basalt, H x W x D: 24 x 13 3/4 x 4 1/4 inches. National Museum, Riyadh, 451. Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA)
Roads of Arabia: Archaeology and History of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is organized by the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution in association with the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Exxon Mobil and Saudi Aramco are gratefully acknowledged as principal co-sponsors of the tour of Roads of Arabia in the United States. Sponsorship is also provided by The Olayan Group and Fluor Corporation. The Boeing Company, Khalid Al Turki Group, and Saudi Basic Industries Corporation SABIC granted additional support.
We gratefully acknowledge the support of the Donald J. Hall Initiative, Henry W. Bloch, Barton P. and Mary D. Cohen Charitable Trust, J. Scott Francis and Susan Gordon, Francis Family Foundation Discretionary Fund, Black and Veatch and our Honorary Committee.
We gratefully acknowledge our Educational Partners: University of Central Missouri, University of Missouri, Kansas City and the Lawrence D. Starr Global Studies Institute at the University of Saint Mary for their assistance with this exhibition.