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Exhibition preparation images

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Men unpacking statue of man
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Seated Figure, Possibly Ife, Tada
Nigeria, is unpacked inside The Block Museum.

Statue of man
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Pictured inside The Block Museum: Seated Figure, Possibly Ife, Tada, Nigeria, Late 13th-14th century, Copper with traces of arsenic, lead, and tin, H. 54 cm, Nigerian National Commission for Museums and Monuments, 79.R18

Hands holding magnifying glass inspecting gold coin
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Researcher inspects Dinar of al-Mustans ̇ir Billaˉh (r. 1036–1094 ce), issued AH 461, struck at Mis ̇r (Cairo). Gold, diameter 22 mm. Bank al-Maghrib, Rabat, Morocco, 521508

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Select exhibition works

The following works will be among 250 artworks and fragments on display Jan. 26 to June 21, 2019 at The Block.

The exhibition catalogue preview is available online. To receive a press copy, email Stephanie Kulke or Erin Karter.

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Ancient woven fabric
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Talismanic Textile, Probably Senegal, late 19th or early 20th century, Four panels joined: cotton, plain weave; painted; amulets of animal hide and felt attached by knotted strips of leather,255.2 cm x 178.8 cm, Art Institute of Chicago 
2000.326

Kneeling statue
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Kneeling Figure, Natamatao, Mopti region
Mali, Terracotta, 12th to 14th century, 46 cm x 22.3 cm x 21.5 cm, Musée national du Mali, Photograph by Seydou Camara,90-25-10

Statue of seated figure
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Seated Figure, Possibly Ife, Tada, 
Nigeria, Late 13th-14th century, Copper with traces of arsenic, lead, and tin, H. 54 cm, Nigerian National Commission for Museums and Monuments, 79.R18, Image courtesy of National Commission for Museums and Monuments, Abuja, Nigeria. 

Carving of elephant head
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Elephant head, Ife, Lafogido
Nigeria, 12th-15th century, Terracotta, H: 15.5, Nigerian National Commission for Museums and Monuments, 63/24a, Image courtesy of National Commission for Museums and Monuments, Abuja, Nigeria.

Statue of mother and child
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Virgin and Child, ca. 1275–1300, France, Ivory with paint, 14 1/2 × 6 1/2 × 5 in. (36.8 × 16.5 × 12.7 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Art Gift of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1917, 17.190.295

Two wooden carvings
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Tent poles, Tent poles, Wood, H 136.8 cm W 16.5 cm D 2.8 cm, ©The Field Museum, Image No. A115335d_004A, Cat. No. 279194.1-.2, Photographer John Weinstein

White trunk
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Ivory Casket, Casket. Italy (Sicily), 12th century.  Ivory, brass, tempera, gold leaf, 9.5 × 15.9 × 9.7 cm. Art Institute of Chicago, Samuel P. Avery Endowment (1926.389) / Art Resource, NY

Gold jewelry
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Gold Jewelry Ornaments, Tukulor artist, Mauritania, Late - early 20th century, Gold alloy, Gift of the Roy and Brigitta Mitchell Collection, Photograph by Franko Khoury, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution

Ancient camel saddle
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Tuareg camel saddle (tarik or tamzak), Algerian Sahara. Leather, rawhide, wood, parchment or vellum, wool, silk, tin-plated metal, brass-plated metal, iron, copper alloy, cheetah skin,75 x 71 x 46 cm. Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, gift of the Estate of Dr. Lloyd Cabot Briggs, 1975, 975-32-50/11927
© President and Fellows of Harvard College, Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology.

Gold bowl
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Bowl, Egypt, 11th century, Fritware, lustre-painted, Diameter: 20cm., The Aga Khan Museum, AKM684

Gold cone-shaped art
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Bioconical bead, Egypt or Syria, 10th -11th century Gold; filigree, granulation, "rope" wire L. 7.2 cm, H. 2.9 cm, The Aga Khan Museum, AKM618.

Stone statues of five humans and a horse
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Horseman and Four Figures, Region of Bankoni, Mali, Terracotta, 13th/16th century (based on Thermoluminescence testing), Art Institute of Chicago.

Gold coin
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Dinar of al-Mustans ̇ir Billaˉh (r. 1036–1094 ce), issued AH 461, struck at Mis ̇r (Cairo). Gold, diameter 22 mm. Bank al-Maghrib, Rabat, Morocco, 521508. Photograph by Fouad Mahdaoui 

Cap with striped silk
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Cap with striped inscribed silk, Egypt or Syria, Mamluk period, probably sultanate of al-Nasir al-Din Muhammad (reigned 1293–1341, with two interruptions), 14th century, Lampas fabric, silk and gold, Cleveland Museum of Art, purchase from the J.H. Wade Fund, 1985.5

Manuscript
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Manuscript on the stars, the constellations, and the Gregorian calendar. Probably Nigeria, 20th century. Ink on paper, Melville J. Herskovits Library, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, Falke 1107. Photograph by Clare Britt 

Manuscript
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Ahmad Baˉbaˉ al-Tinbuktıˉ, as dictated to Yuˉsuf al-Isıˉ, The Uttermost Hope in the Preference of Sincere Intention over Action, Timbuktu, Mali, 1592. Ink on paper, 20 x 15.5 cm. Melville J. Herskovits Library of African Studies, Northwestern University Library, Hunwick 541. Photograph by Clare Britt

Manuscript
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Muhammad al-Kaˉbarıˉ, Garden of the Useful and Beneficent Mali, probably 19th century. Ink on paper, 17 Å~ 23 cm. Melville J. Herskovits Library of African Studies, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, Paden 161. Photograph by Clare Britt

Manuscript
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Page from the "Blue" Qur'an, 9th-10th century. Ink, gold, and silver (now oxidized) on blue-dyed parchment, 11 3/16 x 15 in. (28.4 x 38.1 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Beatrice Riese, 1995.51a-b (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 1995.51a-b_back_IMLS_SL2.jpg)

Image of biblical crucifiction
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Naddo Ceccarelli, The Crucifixion, Siena, Italy, 1350–59. Tempera and gold on wood panel, 76 × 31.6 × 2.5 cm. The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, bequest of Henry Walters, 37.737 

Gold ring
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Ring excavated at Sijilmasa, Morocco, 9th/10th century. Gold, diameter 1.9 cm. Fondation nationale des musées du Royaume du Maroc, Rabat, 2006-1. Photograph by Abdallah Fili and Hafsa El Hassani

Gold jewelry
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Gold jewelry from tumulus 7,  Durbi Takusheyi, Nigeria, 13th - 15th century. National Commission for Museums and  Monuments, Abuja, Nigeria. Photograph by René Müller

Maps

During the medieval period, major trade routes crossing the Sahara Desert linked cities and towns that functioned as trade centers.

Southward the routes connected with the Niger River, a major byway to Africa’s forest region. Northward they connected to the vast trade networks of the Mediterranean Sea, traveling inland across Europe, while eastward they met the Levantine routes and ultimately the Silk Roads of Central and East Asia.

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Excavations

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Fragments of glass
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A selection of excavated finds from Essouk-Tadmekka, including fragments of glazed ceramics (among which is an oil lamp), stone beads and semi-precious stones, a cowrie shell, a fragment of silk textile, a carved stone torso, and vessel glass fragments. Institut des sciences humaines, Mali. Photograph by Clare Britt 

Excavation site
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Excavations within the Sijilmasa mosque, with exposed walls from the “Filalian” period. Photograph by MAPS, 1996

People in stone pit
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Looking down into excavation unit in Tadmekka from the surface; the image shows digging at depth of approximately 5 meters at the depth of the earliest walls recorded. Photograph by Sam Nixon, 2005

Scene setting

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Camels
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Dromedary camels, loaded with slabs of salt, on caravan route, Timbuktu, Mali, 1971, Photograph by Eliot Elisofon. Eliot Elisofon Photographic Archives, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC, EEPA EECL 14130

Atlas of Maritime Charts
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Atlas of Maritime Charts (The Catalan Atlas) [detail of Mansa Musa], Abraham Cresque (1325–1387), 1375, Mallorca. Parchment mounted on six wood panels, illuminated. Bibliothèque nationale de France.
 
On view in exhibition as reproduction

Stone gate
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Gate of the Wind or Bab Fez (Gate to Fez) stands at the northern limit of Sijilmasa. Ancient arcades over a portal were restored in a more recent era. Photograph by Kathleen Bickford Berzock, 2017

Mosque in a city
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The great mosque of Jenne and the Monday great market, August 2013. Photograph by Hamdia Traore 

Man on camel
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A man rides his camel to market in the Agadez region of central Niger. Photograph by Cynthia Becker, 2009

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