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Inside the new galleries, the Ashmolean presents a redisplay of the collections. The Museum's curators have worked with leading design company Metaphor to create the innovative strategy Crossing Cultures Crossing Time, enabling visitors to discover how civilisations developed as part of an interrelated world culture. Objects" stories will be told by tracing the journey of ideas and influences through time and across continents, transforming the way the Ashmolean’s rare and beautiful objects are understood. Themed galleries on the lower ground floor explore the connections between objects and activities common to different cultures, such as money, reading and writing, and the representation of the human image. The floors above are arranged chronologically, charting the development of the ancient and modern worlds. Orientation galleries on each floor introduce the key themes, illuminating the many connections and comparisons which bring the past to life. Crossing Cultures Crossing Time will highlight the strengths of the Museum’s collections, and create a first-class educational environment seeking to awaken a lively interest in all visitors.
L'arte ha nuovi Orienti - Opening of MAO - Museo d'Arte Orientale - in Turin

MAO, Museo d'Arte Orientale, was opened in Turin on 5th December 2008. This permanent exhibition area looks to the Orient in its variety of geographical, cultural and artistic environments.


A heritage of 1500 ancient works of art from a number of Asian countries (from India to Japan, Afghanistan to Tibet), enables MAO to make an important contribution to multiethnic dialogue, promoting the artistic tradition of peoples and cultures so different to those of the western world, and be counted a one of the top international establishments devoted to Asian Art.


The museum is located in the eighteenth-century noble residence of Palazzo Mazzonis, in the historical centre of Turin, and divided into five galleries, corresponding to the five different regions of the great Asian continent: Southern Asia, split into the cultural areas of Gandhara, India and South-East Asia; China, the cradle of a centuries-old civilisation; the Himalayan region, a fertile ground for interaction between the cultures of India and China; Japan, a melting pot for meetings between Buddhism and ancient local traditions; the Islamic Countries, witnesses of an extraordinary artistic production comprising a territorial expanse stretching from Central Asia to the Mediterranean.


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M.I.A. - Museum of Islamic Art - Doha, Qatar

M.I.A. - Museum of Islamic Art - Doha, Qatar

The Museum of the Islamic Arts, Qatar, is an imposing building set on an artificial building of Doha's Corniche. The building, which opened to the public in December 2008, showcases a selection of Islamic artefacts, many of which are both ancient and historically significant.

Although the museum features Islamic Art, and is built using Islamic design, the building was actually designed by Chinese American architect Leoh Min Pei (more commonly known as I. M. Pei,) designer of the Louvre in Pyramid and one of the most celebrated architects in the world today.

The museum, which houses manuscripts, textiles, ceramics and other works assembled mostly over the last 20 years, has emerged as one of the world's most encyclopedic collections of Islamic art. The origin of its artifacts ranges from Spain to Egypt to Iran, Iraq, Turkey, India and Central Asia.
The oldest oil paintings in the world discovered in Afghanistan.

The oldest oil paintings in the world were discovered in Afghanistan, during restoration work carried out on the niches housing the colossal statues of the Buddhas of Bamiyan destroyed in 2001 by the Talibans. The paintings date back to a period running from the 5th to the 9th centuries a.d. and were produced using a technique believed to have been introduced by European painters in 1400. The National Research Institute for Cultural Properties in Tokyo, the Centre of Research and Restoration of French Museum-CNRS, France, the Getty Conservation Institute, USA, and the European Synchroton Radiation Facility (ESRF), France used the different technologies applied to synchroton light in order to make an in-depth study of the quality of the paintings. According to scholars, 12 caverns out of 50 were painted using oil paints produced, perhaps, using walnut and poppy seeds. Leaving out the parts in oil, some layers appear to have been produced using natural resins, proteins, glue and, in a few cases a layer of transparent resinous paint. The proteins appear to indicate the use of ingredients such as egg, and a high percentage of lead seems to have been found amongst the various pigments present, more precisely white lead carbonates which were also used in ancient times. According to Yoko Taniguchi, who coordinated the research, the paintings could be the work of travelling artists who journeyed along the ancient Silk Road.

Gola Dhoro, a specialised laboratory operating over four thousand years ago.

Excavations carried out in Gujarat, northern India, have brought to light the existence of a specialised laboratory, active over four thousand years ago, a contemporary of the great Indo civilisation. Gola Dhoro is the name of the site, located on the south-eastern coast of the Kutch Gulf, near what is currently the village of Bagasra. The excavations have proven the great strategic importance of some similar small settlements of the frontier for the economic and social development of the Indo civilisation. Significant quantities of non-processed shells and jaspers were found in Gola Dhoro. Amongst these, thousands of unfinished shell bracelets and rings, minute splinters of processed shell and the stone used to smooth the products. Undoubtedly an exceptional proto-industrial laboratory of over 4000 years ago.

For more detailed information: Archeo, July 2007 or http://www.harappa.com/goladhoro/

Siem Rap: a tangible risk for the survival of ancient buildings

The exponential growth of the tourist structures of Siem Rap, near the famous temple complex of Angkor Wat in Cambodia, is a tangible risk for the survival of the ancient buildings. According to Philippe Delanghe, UNESCO representative in Phnom Penh, the majestic ruins, declared to be a cultural Heritage for Humanity in 1993, rest on a terrain formed of a delicate mixture of water and sand, and the continuous water drainage, requested by the many hotels currently being built, is a serious threat on the immobility of the monuments. King Suryavarman II (1113-1150) had Angkor Wat built over a period of around forty years, as his mausoleum and place of worship.

Archeo, April 2008
Taj Mahal officially listed as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World

The Coliseum of Rome is also amongst the new "Seven Wonders of the World" proclaimed in Lisbon on the results of a private mega-survey promoted by Swiss-Canadian director Bernard Weber, in which the organisers hold around 100 million people from all continents took part. The seven most voted monuments are, in order of declaration: The Great Wall (China); Petra (Jordan); Christ Redeemer of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil); Inca Ruins of Machu Picchu (Peru); The Maya Pyramid at Chichén Itzá (Mexico); the Coliseum (Italy) and lastly the Taj Mahal.
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