Mesopotamia’s Art of the Seal

Mesopotamia’s Art of the Seal

Compact in size yet complex in the scenes they depict, stone cylinders—many no larger than your thumb—were a popular medium for Mesopotamian artisans talented enough to reverse-carve semiprecious stones and produce unique, often mythological tableaux in astonishingly sensitive, naturalistic detail. Their craft gave each seal’s owner a personalized graphic signature for use with the most popular media channel of the third millennium BCE: damp clay. Seal impressions certified ownership, validated origins, attested to debts, secured against theft and more. Many seal cylinders were drilled so they could be strung and carried as amulets and status symbols—uses that may find echoes among today’s compact, personalized communication devices.
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The North African Eye of Yves Saint Laurent

The North African Eye of Yves Saint Laurent

The French fashion designer frequently mentioned Morocco as his muse for colors, collection design and even models from around the world, but Yves Saint Laurent’s eye trained early while growing up on the Mediterranean coast of Algeria.
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Streaming Ramadan TV to the World

Streaming Ramadan TV to the World

New platforms, new stories and more subtitles are making the comedies, thrillers, biopics and dramas of what has long been TV’s peak season in Muslim majority countries into a year-round, binge-ready global window on popular cultures.
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The 1001 Tales of Hanna Diyab

The 1001 Tales of Hanna Diyab

Thanks to recently published translations of a Syrian storyteller’s handwritten travelog, we now know that it was conversations between him and a French writer that laid the foundations for the final four volumes of the most-famous fabulation ever published in Europe.
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Spice Migrations: Cloves

Spice Migrations: Cloves

Stems like tacks, buds like gems and scented so richly that their sweet redolence wafted far out to sea, cloves have come to the kitchen from the island of Ambon, the archipelago of Zanzibar, and many places between and beyond.
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Flavors: Spinach and Ginger Salad

Flavors: Spinach and Ginger Salad

I have childhood memories of my mother making this for me and telling me about its beneficial health effects!

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FirstLook: The Sari and the Balloon

FirstLook: The Sari and the Balloon

On a winter’s afternoon in 2018 in Bogura, Bangladesh, I went out for a walk with my nephew. While walking, I saw a group of toddlers playing with colorful balloons and across from them boys playing cricket. I was struck to see a bright yellow sari hanging to dry in the sun, which really drew me into to the scene.

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Could Phoenicians Have Crossed the Atlantic?

Could Phoenicians Have Crossed the Atlantic?

Two thousand years before Columbus and 1,500 before Erikson, the Phoenician maritime empire covered the Mediterranean and west to the Canary Islands. In 2019 a replica Phoenician ship set its sail to find out if they could have gone farther.

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Amir Zaki's Sculpture of Skateparks

Amir Zaki's Sculpture of Skateparks

It takes a landscape photographer’s eye to step down into a cement skatepark and turn the lens not on skaters but on the ramps, waves, valleys, bowls and tunnels that are the terrain of the park itself, and it takes a skater’s experience to do so in a way that captivates both art critics and skateboard stars. California native and photographer Amir Zaki grew up skateboarding on streets in suburban Los Angeles, and recently he began visiting skateparks to produce sweeping, large-format images that offer textured meditations on the beauty of light on curved concrete.

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