Urban Biographies, Ancient and Modern
August 24, 2018–January 6, 2019
Human beings are political animals, said the Greek philosopher Aristotle: animals that live in the “polis,” the Greek word for city. Over two thousand years later, we are still political animals, and the study of ancient cities is of abiding interest, for our perceptions of the urban centers of the past continue to exert a powerful hold on modern culture.
This exhibition showcases three Classical cities where the University of Michigan sponsors field projects: Gabii in Italy, Olynthos in Greece, and Notion in Turkey. The archaeologists excavating these cities, in collaboration with students and faculty from U-M’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, are comparing their findings to projects of urban renewal in contemporary Detroit, asking two main questions: How do contemporary archaeological methods facilitate the study of both ancient and modern cities? And how can the study of the past help illuminate the challenges and opportunities facing Detroit today?
Curator: Christopher Ratté
February 8–May 24, 2019
The Roman world was a colorful place. Although we often associate the Romans with white marble statues, these statues, as well as Roman homes, clothing, and art were immersed in color. This exhibition examines colors in the ancient Roman world, how these colors were produced, where they were found, what the Romans thought about them, and how we study them today. We hope that visitors will think about what different colors mean to them and how these meanings compare to the roles of colors in the Roman Mediterranean world.
Curators: Catherine Person and Caroline Roberts
Graffiti as Devotion along the Nile
August 23, 2019–January 5, 2020
Ancient graffiti provide a unique glimpse into the lives of individuals in antiquity. Religious devotion in ancient Kush (a region located in modern-day northern Sudan), involved pilgrimage and leaving informal marks on temples, pyramids, and other monumental structures. These graffiti are found in temples throughout the later (“Meroitic”) period of Kush, when it bordered Roman Egypt. They represent one of the few direct traces of the devotional practices of private people in Kush and hint at individuals’ thoughts, values, and daily lives. This exhibition explores the times and places in which Kushite graffiti were inscribed through photos, text, and interactive media presentations. At the heart of the show are the hundreds of Meroitic graffiti recently discovered in a rock-cut temple by the Kelsey expedition to El Kurru in northern Sudan.
Curators: Geoff Emberling and Suzanne Davis