Tuesday, September 18, 2012

New Special Exhibit, "Between Heaven & Earth: Birds In Ancient Egypt," October 16, 2012 – July 28, 2013

What's New
The Oriental Institute Museum announces its new Special Exhibit, "Between Heaven & Earth: Birds In Ancient Egypt," which opens from October 16, 2012 – July 28, 2013. Visitors to the Oriental Institute Museum will be able to step back in time to discover the world of birds in ancient Egypt as they stroll through an exhibit that recreates the feel of a marsh from the Nile, and see videos of birds flying overhead while the sounds of birds calling to each other resonate in the gallery.

The Oriental Institute Museum announces the re-publication of two short articles from this summer's News & Notes quarterly publication, both pertaining to the Museum's new Special Exhibit, "Between Heaven & Earth: Birds In Ancient Egypt," which opens from October 16, 2012 – July 28, 2013. These two articles highlight the various stages of learning and work involved in preparing several of the artifacts for exhibition in the show. 

Mission Statement of the Oriental Institute Museum and the Department of Public Education and Outreach

The Mission Statement of the Oriental Institute Museum and the Department of Public Education and Outreach is now available on its website.

Mission Statement

Within the Oriental Institute, the Oriental Institute Museum and Department of Public Education and Outreach promote interest in and understanding of ancient civilizations of the Middle East, and their connections to the modern world, for a broad and diverse audience. In order to tell the story of the rise of civilizations, communicate the excitement of archaeological, linguistic, and historical discovery, enhance understanding and appreciation of cultural similarities and differences, show connections between the ancient and modern worlds, and highlight the research of the Oriental Institute:
  • We preserve our collections and information about them
  • We facilitate and conduct research related to the collections
  • We educate our general and scholarly audiences through informative and engaging exhibits, programs, publications and website.
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Monday, September 17, 2012

News: Dictionary Translates Ancient Egypt Life

Dictionary Translates Ancient Egypt Life
Published: September 17, 2012 
New York Times
Ancient Egyptians did not speak to posterity only through hieroglyphs. Those elaborate pictographs were the elite script for recording the lives and triumphs of pharaohs in their tombs and on the monumental stones along the Nile. But almost from the beginning, people in everyday life spoke a different language and wrote a different script, a simpler one that evolved from the earliest hieroglyphs.
EVERYDAY SCRIPT: A Demotic Egyptian writing sample at the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute.
These were the words of love and family, the law and commerce, private letters and texts on science, religion and literature. For at least 1,000 years, roughly from 500 B.C. to A.D. 500, both the language and the distinctive cursive script were known as Demotic Egyptian, a name given it by the Greeks to mean the tongue of the demos, or the common people. 

Demotic was one of the three scripts inscribed on the Rosetta stone, along with Greek and hieroglyphs, enabling European scholars to decipher the royal language in the early 19th century and thus read the top-down version of a great civilization’s long history. 

Now, scholars at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago have completed almost 40 years of research and published online the final entries of a 2,000-page dictionary that more than doubles the thousands of known Demotic words. Egyptologists expect that the dictionary’s definitions and examples of how words were used in ancient texts will expedite translations of Demotic documents, more of which are unpublished than any other stage of early Egyptian writing. 

A workshop for specialists in Demotic research was held at the university last month as the dictionary section for the letter S, the last of 25 chapters to be finished, is being posted on the Oriental Institute’s Web site, where the dictionary is available free. Eventually a printed edition will be produced, mainly for research libraries, the university said. 

Janet H. Johnson, an Egyptologist at the university’s Oriental Institute who has devoted much of her career to editing the Chicago Demotic Dictionary, called it “an indispensable tool for reconstructing the social, political and cultural life of ancient Egypt during a fascinating period,” when the land was usually dominated by foreigners — first Persians, then Greeks and finally Romans...

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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

News: Lady Liberty shines at Oriental Institute exhibit

Lady Liberty shines at Oriental Institute exhibit
Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago is famous for its ancient arts, but a new exhibit looks at the Statue of Liberty -- piece by piece.
The exhibit features mammoth copper slices of the Statue of Liberty. It's a mixture of sculptures that date from BC to present day.
"We thought showing these huge fragments of the Statue of Liberty would be just a wonderful thing... to juxtapose contemporary art with ancient art," Emily Teeter, curator, said. Two examples: a piece from 700 BC and another from 2012.
"I think it works," Teeter said.
The Oriental Institute is sponsoring the show in conjunction with the university's Renaissance Society. The five pieces are all to the exact scale of the real statue.
The sculptor's family escaped from Vietnam in search of freedom. Danh Vo now lives in Berlin and is reconstructing the entire statue in pieces.
"Well, the original statue came in pieces from France and this one is being made in China in a similar way. The artist was able to get hold of the blueprints. The original blueprints," Susanne Ghez, director renaissance society at U. of C., "Absolutely."
It's not all that easy to recognize the Statue of Liberty because most of these pieces are replicas of liberty's long garment. So just use your imagination and think big.
The original statue of liberty was in pieces so this does make some sense. But also ... Is there some symbolism here? Did the sculptor have something to say about democracy going to pieces?
"Very much so. I think it's his idea of spreading democracy around the world. Spreading it in bits and pieces. The military states, the wars in the Middle East. And that's a statement coming from somebody who's coming from Vietnam. It's very much a critique of democracy," Hamza Walker, associate curator Renaissance Society, U of C., said.
Ultimately there will be hundreds of such pieces and they will be exhibited around the world.
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