Saudi artifacts on display at Louvre’s ‘Roads to Arabia’ exhibition
Excavations in the Kingdom continue to uncover large numbers of significant antiquities.
July 17, 2010 10:15 by Samuel Potter
Artifacts displayed at “Roads to Arabia” exhibition in the Louvre Museum in Paris represented only a small portion of historically important relics excavated in the Kingdom in recent years, said Prince Sultan bin Salman, chairman of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities, on Friday.
“What is presented at the Louvre represents only one percent of antiques excavated in the Kingdom, or less than that,” the Saudi Press Agency quoted the SCTA chief as saying. “We are planning to conduct excavations in more historical sites this year with the help of national and foreign teams,” he said.
A large number of important antiquities have been found during recent excavations, Prince Sultan said. “These antiquities are important and large in numbers compared to the ones discovered in the past five years. We’ll announce them shortly,” he said.
About 350 artifacts are on show at the Louvre, including pre-Islamic stele and ancient objects from after the rise of Islam.
He said the Louvre exhibition did not aim at marketing Saudi Arabia as a tourist center but rather it was organized to highlight the country’s cultural and historical dimensions, which have often been ignored.
“The main objective of this exhibition is to introduce the different civilizations that lived in the Arabian Peninsula… The role of Saudi Arabia today is not just political or economic. It had a role to play, long fixed in history,” he said. “Saudi Arabia’s cultural dimension has been largely unknown for the outside world, especially the heritage it has from the various civilizations that inhabited in its land one after another.
We are now trying to highlight this important dimension in an integrated fashion through these exhibitions.”
Prince Sultan referred to a statement made by French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner while opening the show on Tuesday.
“I have read quite a lot about the history of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, I didn’t understand much as I have done today during my tour through the exhibition,” he quoted Kouchner as saying.
Prince Sultan added: “Through this exhibition we want to highlight the greatness of Islam and how it dealt with other cultures and civilizations.” The exhibition will visit Barcelona in November as its next station before traveling to other European and US cities.
“It will also be staged in Gulf countries and we have so far received invitations from Qatar and Bahrain,” he said.