The World Between Empires: Art and Identity in the Ancient Middle East

Photo: Art Summary

The World Between Empires: Art and Identity in the Ancient Middle East
March 18–June 29, 2019

Metropolitan Museum of Art
New York, NY

For over three centuries, the territories and trading networks of the Middle East were contested between the Roman and Parthian Empires (ca. 100 B.C.–A.D. 250), yet across the region life was not defined by these two superpowers alone. Local cultural and religious traditions flourished, and sculptures, wall paintings, jewelry, and other objects reveal how ancient identities were expressed through art. Featuring 190 works from museums in the Middle East, Europe, and the United States, this exhibition follows a journey along the great incense and silk routes that connected cities in southwestern Arabia, Nabataea, Judaea, Syria, and Mesopotamia, making the region a center of global trade. Several of the archaeological sites featured, including Palmyra, Dura-Europos, and Hatra, have been damaged in recent years by deliberate destruction and looting, and the exhibition also examines these events and responses to them.


Items on loan

Silver Drachm of Artabanus IV of Partha, Ecbatana, AD 216 – AD 224. 1944.100.83566

Silver shekel, Judaea, AD 67. 1935.117.805

Clay Tessare, Palmyra. 1937.79.22

Clay Tessare, Palmyra. 1937.79.23

Silver Coin, Uncertain value, 44 B.C. – 43 B.C. 1944.100.3642

Bronze Sestertius of Vespasian, Rome, AD 71 1944.100.39981

Bronze Coin, Judaea, AD 69. 1944.100.63001

Silver Tetradrachm, Judaea, AD 134 – AD 135. 1944.100.63050

Billon Tetradrachm of Zenobia, Alexandreia, AD 270 – AD 271. 1944.100.67791

Silver Tetradrachm of Phraataces of Parthia, Seleuceia ad Tigrim, AD 2 – AD 3. 1944.100.82963

Silver Drachm of Phraataces of Parthia, Ecbatana, 2 BC – AD 4. 1944.100.82979

Silver Antoninianus of Aurelian, Siscia, AD 270 – AD 275 1957.159.61

Bronze Sestertius of Vespasian, Rome, AD 71 1967.153.218