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Anthropomorphic Stele, near al-Ula, Mada’in Saleh, Tayma, Saudi Arabia, 4th millennium BC, sandstone, National Museum, Riyadh.

Arabia: Crossroad of Ancient Civilizations

Saturday, Feb 08, 2014
4 p.m. - 5 p.m.

Law Building, Lower Level
1001 Bissonnet Map & Directions

Presented by Frances Marzio, curator of the Glassell Collections; Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas; and Antiquities.

From ancient times, Saudi Arabia was a meeting place for powerful cultures and exotic exchanges. When and where divergent cultures make contact, artists often create wonderful hybrids. As the place of the Prophet Mohammed’s birth and death, Saudi Arabia is the holiest destination for pilgrims. The lives of ordinary and extraordinary pilgrims are revealed on tombstones inscribed in calligraphy from the ninth to the twelfth centuries. Beautiful stone scripture reveals the poetry of prayer. The monumental gilded silver door of the Ka’ba, the most important shrine in Islam, stands as a center of faith.

For centuries, the spice and incense trade brought enormous wealth to the area. Stone sculptures, ceramics, and works of precious metals and colorful glass tell this story. And in 1932, King Abdulaziz united his lands to form the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, using the area’s great natural resource—petroleum—to make the kingdom wealthy and influential. His royal regalia reveals his personal and political story.

In this lecture, Frances Marzio explores works of art—many discovered during archaeological excavations over the last forty years—that illustrate the history of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

This lecture is presented in conjunction with Roads of Arabia: Archaeology and History of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

About the Friday and Saturday Afternoon Lecture Series
This series of lectures is held on Fridays at 1:30 p.m. with a repeat on Saturdays at 4 p.m. in Brown Auditorium Theater. A reception to meet the speaker and a “Your Turn to Speak” tour follow each lecture.

Tickets
$5 MFAH Members
$8 Nonmembers + Museum admission
Free for MFAH Members at the Patron, Supporting, Sponsor, and Benefactor levels, up to two tickets. Leadership Circle members receive unlimited free tickets.
Secure your seat in advance! Use the "Get Tickets" button above and print at home; call 713.639.7771; or visit any MFAH admissions desk.

Friday and Saturday Afternoon Lectures at the MFAH receive generous support from Aggie and Joe Foster.

Special thanks to Adept Word Management for transcription services.

All education programs at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, receive endowment income from funds provided by Caroline Wiess Law; The National Endowment for the Humanities; the William Randolph Hearst Foundation; the Fondren Foundation; BMC Software, Inc.; the Wallace Foundation; the Louise Jarrett Moran Bequest; the Neal Myers and Ken Black Children’s Art Fund; the Favrot Fund; and Gifts in honor of Beth Schneider.