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"Urban Biographies: Ancient and Modern" exhibit to open at Kelsey Museum of Archaeology on Friday

This new exhibit will compare three ancient cities to Detroit

Credit | Kelsey Museum of Archaeology
Credit | Kelsey Museum of Archaeology

ANN ARBOR"How do contemporary archaeological methods facilitate the study of both ancient and modern cities? And how can the study of the past help illuminate the challenges and opportunities facing Detroit today?”  

These are the two questions being asked in the new “Urban Biographies: Ancient and Modern,” opening at the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology this Friday.

Credit | Kelsey Museum of Archaeology
Credit | Kelsey Museum of Archaeology

In this exhibit, three classical cities will be showcased: Gabii (Italy), Olynthos (Greece) and Notion (Turkey), as well as Detroit. The University of Michigan sponsors field projects in each city and this exhibit will display the work being conducted by archaeologists and UM Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning students.  

How does this tie into Detroit? According to the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology special exhibits page, students and archaeologists “are comparing their findings to projects of urban renewal in contemporary Detroit.”

In an interview with the Kelsey Museum, guest curator for this exhibit, Dr. Christopher Ratté, said one goal of the exhibit is to see how an understanding of ancient cities can better help create solutions in modern-day cities. By comparing Gabii, Olynthos and Notion to modern cities, more creative possibilities for Detroit’s future, such as a rise in urban farming, could bring about solutions to challenges the city is currently facing.


“Urban Biographies: Ancient and Modern” is on the second floor of the museum and will run from Aug. 24 to Jan. 6, 2019.

On Sept. 9, Ratté will offer a special (and free) tour of the exhibit at 2 p.m.

On Sept. 25, Felix Pierson, director of the Istanbul branch of the German Archaeological Institute, will present the Opening Lecture for this exhibit at 5:30 p.m. in Helmut Stern Auditorium in the UMMA.

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