The Gallo-Romeins Museum in the small Belgian town of Tongeren is hosting a big exhibition on the classical city of Sagalassos in Turkey’s Taurus Mountains until 17 June 2012.
Inaccessible to looters and inhabited until the 13th century, ancient Sagalassos is extraordinarily well preserved. Professor Marc Waelkens has been working on the site for 20 years and was able to negotiate the loan of hundreds of artefacts from the city’s Hellenic, Roman and Christian periods, including one of the finest marble portraits of the Emperor Hadrian ever found.
The exhibition is presented as an alternative to the classical archaeological display. I haven’t made it to Belgium yet so don’t know how successful it is, but this text on the museum website gives you an idea of what to expect:
To evoke the atmosphere of the archaeological site, film shots are shown on a 270-degree panoramic screen that floats in the middle of the room above an aesthetic model of the Greek-Roman city in its heyday. Computer screens round about enable you to access information about many of the buildings and monuments you have seen.
A separate space, designed by opera director Guy Joosten, is reserved for the real highlights of the exhibition. He drew inspiration for the display from the fatal earthquake which struck Sagalassos in 600-620 AD. Amidst modern-day rubble strewn here and there, the visitor meets the silent but commanding witnesses of the sheer grandeur of the ancient city.
‘Sagalassos, City of Dreams’ is completely different from the classic archaeological exhibitions and it is designed with the whole family in mind.
Mega-images of the almost surreal site, shown here for the first time ever, draw you into the monumental antique city, while exquisitely carved sculptures of emperors and gods illustrate the success story. The most prepossessing of these sculptures are displayed in an arresting set by opera director Guy Joosten.
If you have children, you can have fun exploring the exhibition in the company of the winged horse Pegasus.
‘Sagalassos, City of Dreams’ is a dream of an exhibition. Like Sagalassos, it is ambitious and, like Sagalassos, it takes you off the beaten track.
More information on the website here.