The exhibition's called "Gaza at the Crossroads of Civilisations", at the Geneva Museum of Art and History (Musée d'Art et d'Histoire), curated by Marc-André Haldimann and Marielle Martiniani-Reber. Online, the museum provides a timeline, as well as a press release comprising the logic of the exhibition and a brief history of the Gaza Strip.
As Foulkes relayed,
"Gaza was built up by many civilisations," explained curator Marc-Andre Haldimann. "Starting from Egypt, then Mesopotamia, then Greek and Roman civilisations, Persian and Arabic, all overlapping and mixing together."Surrounded by security and journalists, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas opened the exhibition. Apparently, the journalists proved one of the curators' points, asking questions about present politics, rather than past history; however, both President Abbas and Curator Haldimann managed to marry the two intelligently and educatively.
Mr Abbas kept his political observations low-key, describing the exhibition as a testimony to the importance of promoting cultural dialogue rather than seeking conflict between civilisations.Haldimann observed that,
"Here in essence are all the necessary elements for a different future, where an understanding of the past can lead to an understanding of the present and an acceptance for the future."Jawdat Khaudary - a local art collector and contributor to the exhibition - commented that,
"Kids in Gaza have the right to go to a museum like any other kids in the world, they have the right to see their own history, and learn that this (the current conflict) is a temporary phase and hopefully it will not continue forever."That brings us back to the hope and aim of a museum in Gaza (expressed in the press release), of
a project aimed at building a major archaeological museum on the actual site of the antique ports. Under the patronage of UNESCO, the future museum will protect the archaic buildings as well as the archaeological collections.As an economic tool, as well as a cultural institution, an ancient history museum in Gaza would be wonderful.
As an aside, in relation to my work and in the context of the history of the Gaza Strip, it's interesting that the timeline mentions 'destruction and massacres by Alexander Janneus' in 96 B.C.E.*, the 'destruction of Jerusalem by Titus' in 70 C.E. and the 'destruction of the pagan temples' in 402 C.E.
* I don't know that history, but, looking around, the only time Alexander Janneus appears to have massacred people and destroyed places at the same time was when, according to Flavius Josephus in his "The Wars of the Jews or History of the Destruction of Jerusalem",
he had slain the greatest part of them, and driven the rest into the city Berneselis; and when he had demolished that city, he carried the captives to Jerusalem.... [W]hen he had ordered eight hundred to be hung upon crosses in the midst of the city, he had the throats of their wives and children cut before their eyes.