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Current Exhibitions

Sistrum (Rattle) with the Head of Hathor, Egyptian, Ptolemaic, ca. 304–30 B.C.E. Faience. Yale University Art Gallery, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Fred Olsen

Sights and Sounds of Ancient Ritual

  • November 9, 2018–March 3, 2019
In the ancient world, religious rituals were multisensory experiences, filled with vibrantly colored representations of supernatural beings, resonant musical sounds, billowing clouds of incense, and the taste of food and drink. Sights and Sounds of Ancient Ritual considers the ways in which these rituals appealed to the senses through objects that would have drawn worshippers into closer proximity to divine forces. The exhibition brings together works from the Yale University Art Gallery and the Yale Babylonian Collection at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History that span three millennia—from approximately 1500 B.C.E. to 1500 C.E.—and represent diverse traditions, including those of ancient Greece and Rome, Western Europe, Egypt, West Africa, the Near East, China, and Mesoamerica. The works on view depict gods and goddesses, illustrate aspects of religious ritual, or had ritual functions themselves, ultimately showing how ancient cultures used visually and sonically evocative objects to create powerful connections with the sacred.
Exhibition made possible by the Jane and Gerald Katcher Fund for Education, the John F. Wieland, Jr., B.A. 1988, Fund for Student Exhibitions, and the Nolen-Bradley Family Fund for Education. Additional support provided by Archaia: Yale Program for the Study of Ancient and Premodern Cultures and Societies. Organized by Carolyn M. Laferrière, Postdoctoral Associate, Archaia: Yale Program for the Study of Ancient and Premodern Cultures and Societies, with Daphne Martin, the Betsy and Frank H. Goodyear, Jr., B.A. 1966, Intern, and Andrew D. Turner, Postdoctoral Associate, both of the Department of Ancient Art, Yale University Art Gallery.

Selected Exhibition Objects

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