This is the first United States exhibition devoted to the art and culture of the Chalcolithic period (Copper-Stone Age, ca. 5500–3500 BC) in the Southern Levant (modern-day Israel and surrounding lands). Long before the pyramids in Egypt and writing in Mesopotamia, this formative period underwent great social and technological development. The inhabitants developed specialized skills in agriculture, artistic creations, and ritual, made remarkable objects of stone, terracotta, and ivory, and also invented metallurgical techniques that were the most advanced of their time in the entire Near East. With an emerging powerful elite, sophisticated methods of smelting, alloying, and casting were used to produce copper objects, tools, and ornaments.
Exhibitions are an important aspect of a curatorial department. The Ancient Art Department has organized and mounted over the years exhibitions showcasing art from different ancient cultures in the Mediterranean. Some of these exhibitions are also accompanied by scholarly catalogues written, edited, or with contributions by the curator in charge of Ancient Art and Interpretation, and published by the Publications Department. Exhibitions, like publications, fulfill the fundamental commitment of the Department to education, research, and scholarship.