Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Online Supplement to the Exhibition: Ritual and Memory

Ritual and Memory

Figurines, tools and weapons, miniature architectural models, adornments in gold and amber, ceramic and bronze vessels, and more: all were excavated from a region in Europe stretching from the Balkan Mountains north to the Carpathian Basin. Many of these artifacts once aided communication with the gods, or were used by the communities that created them in order to understand identity in an earthly realm. Although no textual sources from the prehistoric cultures of this region have come down to us through time, the objects themselves, as well as the locations of their discovery, have led scholars to believe that these works served potent ritual functions. Each artifact offers a glimpse into the world view and ways of life of these ancient communities, but also raises questions. How did objects like these participate in cultural practices that are largely a mystery to us? Can a memory of these long-silent civilizations be recovered?

Ritual and Memory presents works from the Neolithic Period through the Iron Age. Showcasing ritual objects used by men and women, warriors and wives, kings and farmers, in celebrations and in funerals, the exhibition and this digital complement invite us to consider beliefs, ritual practices, and community organization in the ancient civilizations of the Balkan region. These archaeological finds demonstrate great technological accomplishment and significant intercultural connections between various groups in this area and beyond.

Organized by the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World in partnership with the Field Museum, Ritual and Memory reveals the fluidity of cultural practices in ancient southeastern Europe and highlights the dynamism of the region. The participation of eleven countries and seventeen lending institutions further signals an era of international collaboration: our historical moment provides an unprecedented opportunity to explore fresh perspectives on the ancient world across a broad sweep of space and time.

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