THE LOST WORLD OF OLD EUROPE. The Danube Valley, 5000 – 3500 BC, supported by the Leon Levy foundation
20 May – 15 August 2010, Temporary Exhibition Galleries, Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology, University of Oxford, Beaumont Street, Oxford OX1 2PH
With major loans from Romania, Bulgaria and Moldova, ‘The Lost World of Old Europe’, the new exhibition at the Ashmolean, presents more than 250 artefacts recovered by archaeologists from the settlements and cemeteries of ‘Old Europe’. This remarkable exhibition of gold, pottery and archaeological finds from the prehistoric civilisation of the Danube Valley, in southeast Europe, is presented in Britain for the first time. Highlights of the exhibition include the ‘Thinker’ and Female Figurine from Cernavoda, as well as many ceramic and metallurgical pieces from the Cucuteni culture in Romania. Before the invention of writing and the first cities of Mesopotamia and Egypt were established in 4500 BC, ‘Old Europe’ was among the most technologically advanced and sophisticated places in the world. Highlights of the exhibition include the earliest major assemblage of gold artefacts to be found in the world from the Varna cemetery, Bulgaria, along with elaborate female figurines, stunning painted pottery and metalwork.
Although archaeological work has taken place in the region since the end of the 19th century, there is little general awareness of the wealth of its prehistoric cultural heritage –in large part due to the confines of the late 20th century ‘Cold War’. Today with new studies of old collections, planned future excavation projects, and international exhibitions such as The Lost World of Old Europe, recognition of the early prehistory of southeastern Europe enters a new exciting era.
Christopher Brown, Director of the Ashmolean said, “We are delighted to host this remarkable exhibition, which I was tremendously excited by when I first saw it in New York. ISAW has revealed the richness and complexity of ancient cultures, which are rediscovered in this exhibition and for the first time given the importance they deserve in the development of western civilisations”.
The exhibition has been organised by the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at New York University (ISAW) in collaboration with the National History Museum of Romania, Bucharest, and with the participation of the Varna Regional Museum of History, Bulgaria and the National Museum of Archaeology and History of Moldova, Chisinau; and has been made possible by the Leon Levy Foundation.