Library exhibition in support of “Ritual and Memory: The Ancient Balkans and Beyond”

By Gabriel McKee

In celebration of ISAW’s latest exhibit “Ritual and Memory: The Ancient Balkans and Beyond, the ISAW Library is proud to announce a miniature exhibition of books relating to the exhibit. Curated by Gabriel Mckee and located on the second floor of ISAW, this library exhibition shows publications from the ISAW Library’s collection related to prehistoric archaeology of the Balkan Peninsula and the Carpathian Basin.

The first case of this exhibition focuses on a variety of devotional and ritual objects from across the region, including pre-Cucuteni figurine assemblages similar to the one highlighted in the entranceway of the main exhibition. The display features images of one object, a figurine from the Bronze Age Gîrla Mare/Zuto Brdo culture in Croatia, that is on display in the first gallery; the publication on display in our upstairs case shows multiple angles of the object, highlighting the rich decorations which may represents jewels or embroidery on the figure’s clothing. Also on display are images of a loom weight from Turdaș in Romania bearing symbols or markings that some have interpreted as an early form of writing. If indeed they represent a language, the Vinča symbols, also known as the Danube script, predate Sumerian cuneiform by more than a thousand years, but their interpretation remains a subject of controversy.

The second case focuses primarily on Iron Age objects, chiefly from Thracian sites in Bulgaria and North Macedonia. These objects show the influence of Central Asian iconography in a collection of zoomorphic axe-heads, as well as Greek mythology in a pair of plaques depicting Medusa and the goddess Nike. 

The ISAW Library is excited to provide this bibliographical supplement to "Ritual and Memory." If you are visiting the ISAW Library, please take a moment to visit this exhibit on the second floor. 

We are grateful to all those who have helped to make this display possible, especially Rachel Herschman and the entire ISAW Exhibitions Department.