Inside the Peabody Museum: October 2014
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War is a persistent attribute of human cultures through time, and weapons are crafted with a practical, and deadly, intent. Nearly as pervasive as war itself, is the practice of decorating objects used to wage it. Arts of War: Artistry in Weapons across Cultures is a new Peabody Museum exhibition opening to the public Saturday, October 18 at 9:00 AM. The exhibition presents the varied beauty and craftsmanship of war objects drawn from cultures around the world. From maces, clubs, daggers, and spears, to shields, helmets, and entire suits of armor, this exhibition offers museum-goers more than 150 striking examples of weapons that are also extraordinary works of art.
What would compel a warrior to deliberately imbue his weapon with beauty that stands in such stark contrast to its intended purpose? And why are war objects so much more common and elaborately decorated than those crafted for peace-making? Arts of War: Artistry in Weapons across Cultures probes intriguing questions, unveils the stories behind some of the most stunning war objects ever created, and explores the passion and purpose of the people who made them.
On Sunday, October 5, experience an epic afternoon of archaeological events for all ages. Activities take place among the world-famous collections of North American, Maya, and Ancient Near Eastern archaeology held by the Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology and the Harvard Semitic Museum. Immerse yourself in a 3-D view of the Giza Pyramids and other monuments with virtual reality headsets. Move mountains with an augmented reality sandbox. Observe an active archaeological excavation in Harvard Yard. Peer behind hidden museum spaces, participate in pottery-building demonstrations with the Harvard Ceramics Program, and listen to tales from the field by archaeologists and students who excavate in Turkey, Korea, Honduras, Peru, Israel and more. A Mexican food truck will be available on Divinity Avenue for those who work up an appetite from the array of hands-on activities.
Another highlight will be an experimental Maya ball game tournament played by Harvard students in front of the Peabody Museum. Watch teams attempt to play the challenging game, the oldest team sport in the history of mankind. The Maya ball game--also known as Pitz, Pok-a-Tok, or Jugo de Pelota--has been played since 2500 BC. While the exact rules and equipment have varied, the game remains a real challenge. Played on a hard outdoor court surrounded by sloping walls, teams keep the ball alive using any part of their body except feet and hands. Points are scored by knocking the ball of native rubber through hoops set in the sloped sides. Played for fun, for mass entertainment, and as part of deadly serious rituals where players were sometimes sacrificed, teams at the Amazing Archaeology Fair will play for glory and a trophy. Observers can assist with making traditional music, practice the moves and play in their own pick-up games after the match without suffering loss of life.
Tickets for the popular Day of the Dead Evening Celebration go on sale October 20 at 9:00 AM. Celebrate Day of the Dead with a festive evening of music, food, and community. Remember departed loved ones in front of this year’s Día de los Muertos altar, savor Mexican beverages and light refreshments, and enjoy the lively music of the Mariachi Véritas de Harvard and Trio Ollin. Guests in Catrina or calavera costumes* will be eligible to win special prizes! Free event parking will be available at the 52 Oxford St. Garage starting at 5:00 PM. No advance tickets are required for the related event, Día de los Muertos/Day of the Dead Family Event, the next day.
Complimentary tickets are already available for the October 23 lecture/wine-tasting titled "Sweet and Spicy Libations: Wine in the Ancient Near East." Presented by our friends at the Harvard Semitic Museum, the talk will explore the recent discovery of the oldest and largest ancient wine cellar in the Near East.
*Catrinas and calaveras are elegantly attired skeletons. For inspiration, see the work of artist José Guadalupe Posada (1852-1913).
If you're registering for the 94th National Council for the Social Studies Conference in Boston, be sure to join the Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology and Harvard Semitic Museum for an evening of discovery on Saturday, November 22. Special evening hours will be brightened with snacks and beverages, an illustrated curator lecture, gallery tours, and time to explore on your own. This event is an option to choose when registering for social events at the conference. See An Evening at Harvard Museums of Science & Culture.
See what's coming up in the Calendar of Events.