Our Winter issue includes stories of the ancient and modern world. We begin with an amazing archaeological site in southeastern Turkey. Göbekli Tepe, excavated by the German Archaeological Institute, is one of the most important prehistoric sites in the world. Dating to the 10th and early 9th millennia BCE—about 11,000 years ago—this site may be the world’s earliest religious sanctuary. Massive pillars are carved with depictions of humans, animals, and birds, which may be narratives associated with the beliefs of the local population. Göbekli Tepe is sometimes compared to Stonehenge because of its rings of standing stones. But we must remember that Göbekli Tepe was built 7,000 years before that famous English site!
We then move to China, with a new analysis of the colossal stone lions on display in the Museum’s Rotunda. “Marking the Spirit Road” offers a history of these majestic winged beasts and places them in the context of monumental stone sculpture in East Asia. Don’t miss pages 30–31: we show you in detail how the male and female differ in design. Next time you are in the Museum, stop by the Rotunda to look at the lions more closely.
Our third article includes photographs by the Museum’s own John Henry Haynes taken in Palmyra (modern Syria) in 1885. Haynes was on a journey to find a suitable site for an American excavation: his trip led to the Museum’s 1888–1900 fieldwork in Nippur (modern Iraq). His striking photographs are even more prized today, since many of these monuments were destroyed by the Islamic State in 2015.
We then move to the modern world. Our last article concerns Bearing Witness: Four Days in West Kingston, an exhibition that recently opened at the Museum. The backstory for this research project and exhibition is described: a confrontation between the community and Jamaican authorities that resulted in the deaths of many people. The exhibition documents accounts of the survivors.