An exhibition, "Beyond Babylon: Art, Trade and Diplomacy in the Second Millennium B.C.," on display at New York Metropolitan Art Museum, featuring the artifacts found in 1982 at the Uluburun site off the coast of Kaş, alongside artifacts from museums from the Near East and Turkey, has had 20,000 visitors in two weeks.
The exhibition, sponsored by the Turkish-American Business Council, or TAIK, opened Nov. 18 with contributions from the Doğan, Doğuş, Koç and Sabancı groups.
At a press conference held in Turkey before the opening of the exhibition, TAIK Chairman Haluk Dinçer said, "For our Council, there could be no more appropriate cultural and artistic activity than the Beyond Babylon exhibition because this priceless cultural legacy is directly related to trade and diplomacy in parallel with Turkey's own ongoing reforms at the moment."
Receiving positive reviews from U.S. media, the exhibition was praised by Holland Cotter in the leading U.S. daily the New York Times. "For a truly cornucopian example of multiculturalism, though, nothing matches the contents of the Late Bronze Age merchant ship recovered from the sea off the southern coast of Turkey," he wrote.
The exhibition, which highlights Turkey’s location as a trade and culture center in its region, includes nearly 350 artifacts. The most striking items in the exhibition are 98 pieces found at the Uluburun shipwreck that were sent from the Bodrum Underwater Museum.
The Uluburun is considered to be the oldest discovered trade ship, as well as the oldest discovered shipwreck, and was named by two leading U.S. archaeological magazines as one of the top 10 historic finds of the past 50 years. More than 140 artifacts that have been sent from other Turkish museums are also being showcased in the exhibition.
Cotter said the organization of the exhibition depended as much on diplomatic clout as on cash and that is why only the Metropolitan Museum had the resources to pull off such a project. "It is the latest in the museum’s illustrious line of panoramic archaeological shows, and a direct sequel to the 2003 ’Art of the First Cities,’ which covered the third millennium B.C."
He said with some 300 objects from other sources, there was a lot of material in the gallery to see and absorb. "This is not a quick-take exhibition.
Many pieces are small and intimate, made to be worn, handled and easily transported for sale or exchange: passed from hand to hand, from land to shipboard, and across seas to markets in other, often distant lands É " The exhibition, which has received a great deal of interest from visitors, will be open until March 15.