Yemen’s World Heritage in Venice


Dr. Alessandro de Maigret (1943-2011)

Announcing an Exhibition and Conference

Yemen’s World Heritage. Archaeology, Art and Architecture
Museum of Oriental Art in Venice
October 20 – December 16, 2016

A joint initiative of:
Museums of the Veneto – Museum of Oriental Art , Veneto Institute for Cultural Heritage, Italian Archaeological Mission in Yemen, Monumenta Orientalia, Rome

The Oriental Art Museum, the Veneto Institute for Cultural Heritage and the Italian Archaeological Mission in Yemen want to promote a series of events to make known in Venice’s the historic and artistic heritage of Yemen. Since March 2015 Yemen has been in a conflict in which the bombing violated numerous protected sites both nationally and internationally recognized, and destroyed museums and monuments of the rich cultural past of the country.
Recently, UNESCO reiterated its condemnation of the destruction perpetrated against the world heritage of Yemen and initiated a campaign # Unite4Heritage, the Yemeni Heritage Week: Museums United for Yemen for 2016, involving the major museums of Europe (the British Museum, Musée du Louvre, Hermitage, etc.).

From Prehistory to the present day the extreme tip of the Arabian Peninsula, Yemen has preserved unique features in the production of their material culture, whose forms are as native as the result of exchanges and synergies with Africa, Asia and the Mediterranean. Historians of Greek and Roman classicism used to talk about Yemen using the nickname Arabia Felix, as a land of prosperity and wealth, not only material but also geographical and territorial. Yemen was, in fact, at the center of an important caravan and maritime trade axis: here met traders from India and the Horn of Africa with those who would later traced to the north of the Peninsula to enrich the courts of the various empires in Mediterranean with products such as incense, myrrh, spices, pearls and precious stones.
The deep bond of man with the settlement territory is expressed in through the remains of south Arabian kingdoms – the most notable of which is the Kingdom of Sheba – which were already using the house typology commonly referred as Yemen “tower house”.
With the start of Islam then, the Yemeni architecture has been enhanced with new forms and stylistic paradigms, and many temples of the pagan tradition turned into mosques. Archaeological studies conducted in Yemen have shown a slow and lasting osmosis between pre-Islamic and Islamic civilization.

The initiative promoted at the Museum of Oriental Art in Venice will go right to investigate this union, to raise awareness of an almost unknown cultural heritage in the West, whose origins are lost in the often muffled contours of myth.

The initiative also wants to highlight some Italian experiences, namely that of the Italian Archaeological Mission in the Republic of Yemen (MAIRY), began in 1980 and that of the Veneto Institute for Cultural Heritage began in 2005. Both have as their purpose the protection and enhancement of Yemeni heritage and both have been accomplished in total synergy with local counterparts, thus becoming moments of much scientific as human enrichment.

A series of seminars and meetings, by national and international experts at the Oriental Art Museum, will bring the public closer to the peculiarities of the history and culture of the country. In the room which will host the conference there will be some photo-descriptive panels on display that will illustrate some aspects of archeology, art and architecture of Yemen as  direct testimony of both the Italian Archaeological Mission and  the Veneto Institute for Cultural Heritage.

On the final day of the exhibition on Friday, December 16, a conference will be organized  at the Museum of Palazzo Grimani.

Thursday, October 20, 2016, Museum of Oriental Art in Venice
Opening session.
16.00: Marta Boscolo Marchi – Director of Oriental Art Museum
Renzo Ravagnan – Veneto Director Institute for Cultural Heritage
Sabina Antonini de Maigret – Director of the Italian Archaeological Mission in Yemen
In memory of Alessandro de Maigret five years after his death
17:00  Alessio Agostini – Sapienza University of Rome
Between myth and history: the Queen of Sheba

Thursday, October 27, 2016 at 16, Oriental Art Museum in Venice
Michael Jung – National Museum of Oriental Art in Rome
Mosques and Madras Yemen

Thursday, November 3 at 15.30, Oriental Art Museum in Venice
Ronald Lewcock
Architecture in Yemen (in English with simultanious translation)

Saturday, November 19 at 10 am Museum of Oriental Art in Venice
Jean Pierre Zocca – Veneto Institute for Cultural Heritage
Laboratory practical artistic techniques
Thursday, November 24 at 15.30
Cristina Tonghini – University Ca ‘Foscari Venezia
Artistic heritage at risk in the Middle East

Friday, December 16  Museum of Palazzo Grimani
10:00 Welcome addresses
Daniele Ferrara – Director of the Museums of the Veneto
Marta Boscolo Marchi – Director of the Museum of Oriental Art in Venice

10:15 Werner Daum
The Great Mosque of Sana’a: from the eighth century origins
10:45 Trevor Marchand – SOAS of London
The Yemeni master builders (in English with simultaneous translation)

11:30 Paul Bensi University of Genoa / Veneto Institute for Cultural Studies
The colors of the Great Mosque of Sana’a
12:00 Ettore Janulardo – University of Bologna and coordinator for Italian archaeological missions abroad
Visions of land and buildings
12:30 Renzo Ravagnan – Veneto Institute for Cultural Heritage
Presentation of ​the collection of the writings of Carsten Niebuhr