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Asian Art Museum
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Roads of Arabia

Archaeology and History of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Oct 24, 2014 —
Jan 18, 2015

A Rare First Glimpse Into a Largely Unknown Past
Over the last forty years, archaeologists working in Saudi Arabia have unearthed an astonishing level of artifacts from the peninsula’s ancient past, radically transforming our understanding of the region. Roads of Arabia features more than 200 objects, ranging from excavated stone tools—some dating back more than a million years—to a 17th-century set of gilded doors that once graced the entrance to the Ka’ba, Islam’s holiest sanctuary. 

Beginning with some of the earliest evidence of humankind, Roads of Arabia goes on to explore the historical and cultural development of Arabia. Tracing ancient incense trade routes and early-Islamic pilgrimage roads that once spanned the peninsula—connecting Arabia to Iraq, Syria, Egypt, the Mediterranean and beyond—the exhibition offers firsthand insight into the remarkable cultural interactions that occurred between Arabia and its diverse neighbors. Roads of Arabia features eye-opening discoveries like the al-Hamra cube—an object that confirms the integration of Egyptian and Mesopotamian motifs into early local religious practice—as well as everyday objects that present an astonishing mix of languages and artistic styles.

As archaeologists continue to unearth important ancient finds beneath the shifting sands of the desert, Roads of Arabia offers a rare first glimpse into the Arabian Peninsula’s fascinating past. Learn even more in the trailer below: