Aug 20, 2018

The Age Of Luxury - HK Museum Special Exhibit That You Can’t Miss!


It’s always great to dive back into the past to explore and learn about different cultures in different regions of the world. One of the most fascinating regions of history in the world is that of the Middle East. And if history and artefacts interest you, look no further than Hong Kong's ongoing Special Exhibition. 


The theme of this Exhibition is ‘An Age Of Luxury: the Assyrians to Alexander’. If you're not too familiar with the outline of the exhibit and historical significance, allow us to explain.


It's well-documented that the Mediterranean and the Middle East had world-class, stunning architecture with grand buildings, gardens, artworks and structure. What many don’t know is the Assyrian, Babylonian and Achaemenid culture of luxury!



Going back to the late BC Era, the Assyrian Empire, in particular, had a society and culture with a large and wealthy ruling classes. The demand for luxurious objects like ivory, gems, jewellery, and stone-wall reliefs was at an all-time high, often made in India and then traded to the Mediterranean. These ornaments were used to display their social status.



Dr Alexandra Fletcher of the Middle Eastern department at the British Museum said: “This was an exciting time in the Middle East — it was when luxury objects were made in a quality, a quantity and a diversity that was really unprecedented and has never been seen again.”


The exhibit itself features roughly 210 ornaments on loan from the British Museum. These ornaments are divided into six chronological categories, explaining what object was considered luxurious at which period, to which empire. For example, Bronze was considered the height of wealth to the Assyrians while the Babylonians believed Precious Stones were the epitome of luxury.


As with society even today, when people couldn’t afford to have the finest material, they simply faked it! For example, the Phoenician society had people wearing fabrics dyed in ‘Tyrian purple’. This purple could be faked, and there’s even a clay tablet in the exhibition that depicts how the unique purple dye was replicated!



Despite the exhibit mainly covering the 900-300 BC timeframe, it concludes with a section highlighting Alexander the Great’s conquests. It tells the story of his dominant empire that stretched from Greece to India. The Greek influence over the Middle Eastern region reflects in the jewellery, stonework and precious metal in this exhibit. 


The British Museum has done a great service by sharing the ornaments of prestigious past empires for people in Hong Kong to see. You don't need to be a history junkie to get interested in the exhibition, as it isn't just a presentation of artefacts - it’s a story being told, of people through the centuries. It’s a reflection of societies and how they thought, acted and behaved. 


Through the exhibition, you get to go back in time and explore three different empires. It’s only open till September 3, so don’t miss it!



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