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Reminders of a glorious past

FIFTY years of Danish archaeological expeditions in Bahrain, unearthing priceless artifacts from the ancient Dilmun civilisation, are being showcased in a new permanent exhibition at the Bahrain National Museum.

The exhibition, organised in co-operation with the Moesgaard Museum in Aarhus, Denmark, opened yesterday and features various artefacts found at the Bahrain Fort, Barbar Temple and Al A'ali burial mounds.

It was opened in a ceremony attended by Education Minister Dr Majid Al Nuaimi, Information Ministry Under-Secretary Mahmood Al Mahmood and visiting delegations representing Danish, French and English expeditions.

The event is part of the country's celebration of the 50th anniversary of the discovery of Dilmun civilisation in Bahrain by Danish archaeologists, which was marked with the re-opening of the renovated Bahrain Fort on Wednesday.

Dr Al Nuaimi said that the new exhibition was part of the country's celebration and pride in its deep-rooted civilisation.

"This exhibit will further highlight Bahrain's rich heritage from the ancient Dilmun era," he said.

Dr Al Nuaimi said that during a series of visits, representatives of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation's (Unesco) had shown keen interest in the preservation of historical sites in Bahrain.

He said that his ministry was keen to include in its school curriculum all information related to the country's civilisation.

"This exhibition will no doubt be a valuable education tool for students to visit during field trips," Dr Al Nuaimi.

Moesgaard Museum Director Jan Skamby Madsen said attending the opening of the exhibition was a boyhood dream come true.

"When I was a boy of eight, I remember reading about Danish expeditions in Bahrain," he told the GDN. "It was all I read at that time, in addition to the comic books."

Mr Madsen said that being present at the exhibition felt like "a fairytale".

"I can't believe that I am standing here next to all the items that I have read about as a boy and longed to have been there when they were uncovered," he said.

The exhibition features a variety of items which have been displayed at the Danish museum for brief periods.

"They are now back at their original home, including some of the best findings in the Dilmun expeditions such as the widely recognised bull's head," said Mr Madsen.

During his visit, he will be discussing with officials here on the means of carrying out further expeditions at various archaeological sites, including the A'ali burial mounds.

The Danish museum is planning to expand by constructing a new building to house various archaeological finds.

"We hope that we will be able to borrow some of the items uncovered during the expeditions at the new exhibition building, which will become the window of Bahrain to Europe," said Mr Madsen.

The exhibition features archive photographs of all 12 Danish expeditions - including early expeditions headed by archaeology veteran Geoffrey Bibby.

Letters by the late Amir Shaikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa - who ruled from 1942 to 1961 - to the Danish museum on excavation work and other documents related to the expeditions, will also be displayed.

Meanwhile, a seminar on Dilmun civilisation will be held tonight at the Bahrain Historical and Archaeological Society, in Juffair.

The seminar, which will be open to the public from 8pm, will be conducted by Dr Flemming Hajlund of the Danish expedition, Dr Pierre Lombard of the French expedition and Dr Robert Killick of the British expedition, as well as Bahrain National Museum Director Abdulrahman Musameh.



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