Saturday, February 7, 2015

Unearthing Arabia: The Archaeological Adventures of Wendell Phillips

Where: Sackler Gallery of Art

When: through June 7, 2015

Wendell Phillips was a real-life Indiana Jones, making fabulous discoveries about ancient civilizations.  The Sackler describes him as a "dashing paleontologist," and how many of those do you get to meet on your lunch hour?

He and a group of archeologists and other researchers set off for Yemen in 1950 and made some wonderful discoveries there, adding to our store of knowledge about the people who lived there thousands of years ago.  When he tried to do some digging further north, political unrest forced him to abandon his work.  Literally, it sounds as if his group had to make a run for it, leaving all their tools behind.

In this relatively small, but spaciously designed display, you see his group's equipment, as well as some of their finds.  What most appealed to me was a funerary statue nicknamed Miriam.  Her face is so lifelike, you'd swear the ancient artist captured the spirit of a real person.

Recently, Phillips' sister, Merilyn Hodgson, returned to the Awan Temple, where Phillips' group had to abandon their excavations, to carry on his work.  I'm glad that his work will go on; perhaps 20 years from now, I'll be writing about another show of what's been discovered there.

Verdict: If you like ancient civilizations or archeology, this is worth a trip to the Sackler.

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