Columbia, SC - The Columbia Museum of Art unveils a new and permanent installation of its ancient art collection. On view now in the Ray Taylor Fair Gallery, the installation includes approximately 50 objects that introduce the major ancient civilizations from the Mediterranean and Near East. Examples of the earliest form of writing from 12th century B.C. Mesopotamia, are shown next to Egyptian scarabs and Greek painted vessels. The world of the ancient Romans is represented by 2nd century glass and bronze items and portrait sculpture. Many of these works have not been seen since the Museum moved to its location on Main Street in 1998. The collection has grown over the last several years with the donation of 12 fine Roman sculptures in 2002 from Pennsylvania collector Dr. Robert Y. Turner.
Roman Imperial portraiture is represented by seven superb portrait heads and a statuette of Salus, goddess of health. The only collection of Roman sculpture in South Carolina on public view shows an engaging glimpse into the lives of ancient Romans with its accompanying texts, glass and bronze implements.
Greek pottery is represented by objects from the Geometric, Archaic, Late Classical and Hellenistic Periods. A finely painted Archaic Period oil flask, Black-Figured Lekythos, circa 510 B.C. from Athens, is painted with a scene showing the Greek heroes, Achilles and Ajax playing dice with the goddess Athena intervening.
The oldest objects in the gallery, circa 12th - 7th century B.C., are cuneiform clay tablets - the oldest form of writing - developed in the region of Sumer in southern Mesopotamia. Ancient terracotta and paint votive objects include the Horseman and Horse, circa 7th century B.C. from Cyprus, and Statuette of a Woman wearing a Pomegranate Necklace from the Greek Archaic Period, circa 580 - 550 B.C.
Objects from Ancient Palestine include an earthenware storage vessel and bowl, circa 17th - 16th century B.C. from the Middle Bronze Age, and a dipper juglet and pitcher, circa 1300 - 1220 B.C. from the Early Iron Age.
Egyptian objects in the installation include Shabtis from the 26th Dynasty, circa 664 - 525 B.C. and also from the Ptolemaic Period, circa 332 - 30 B.C. - Shabti figures were included in tombs to serve the deceased and were painted with magical spells from the Book of the Dead.
The gallery was guest curated by Dr. Laura Voight.