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Biblical Archaeology Review 46:4, Fall 2020

Strata: Colorful Centennial

For a hundred years, the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute has been devoted to archaeological research. Not only has it organized excavations throughout the ancient Near East, but it has also brought archaeological discoveries to the public through its museum and education programs. To celebrate its hundredth anniversary, the Oriental Institute has put on display work by contemporary artists Ann Hamilton, Mohamad Hafez, and Michael Rakowitz. Their pieces take a fresh look at ancient culture.

Iraqi-American artist Michael Rakowitz brings to life a panel from an Assyrian palace at Nimrud. Although ISIS destroyed the majority of this panel in 2015, a portion with the head of the Assyrian king Ashurnasirpal II survives in the collection of the Oriental Institute. Rakowitz’s installation unites this original fragment with his brightly colored reinterpretation of the panel—using materials such as newspaper ads, cracker wrappers, and gold foil. Another surviving fragment, represented by black and gray papier-mâché, is held at the British Museum. The installation measures about 7.5 by 7 feet.

We hope the next 100 years of research are just as colorful and bright!

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