19 June 2010

New Bible museum and ancient beer

The owners of Hobby Lobby, a craft store chain in the mid-West, have been buying up rare Bibles and Torahs like it's the Apocalypse. The New York Times reports the family has bought illuminated, or decorated, manuscripts, Torahs, papyri and other works worth $20 million to $40 million from auction houses, dealers, private collectors and institutions, some of which may be selling because of financial pressure.

The man leading the effort is Steve Green, president of Hobby Lobby, a private company based in Oklahoma City that is a favorite of scrapbook makers, do-it-yourselfers and home decorators. The company, founded by his father, David, in 1972, now numbers 439 stores and has generated a family fortune that Forbes magazine estimates at $2.5 billion.

With money to spare, the younger Mr. Green, 46, has found a passion to complement his vocation, and is working with specialists in deal-making and history who, using company money on behalf of the family, began buying with a flourish about six months ago.

The ultimate goal behind all these purchases? “The goal is to create a museum around the story of the Bible,” Mr. Green explained. “No book has been persecuted as much or loved as much. Its incredible story needs to be told.”

Notice Green's specialists mentioned previously do not include a curator or conservationist? Just think, their collection of already 30,000 items (including a Martin Luther New Testament and a Spanish Inquisition Torah) are languishing and potentially deteriorating away in their garage while they get this museum together. Great idea!

In other news, a 9,000 year old beer made of rice, honey and hawthorn will be on sale in British Columbia starting in July. The beer, called Chateau Jiahu, has its roots in a village in Hunan province in northern China. A molecular archeologist Patrick McGovern from the University of Pennsylvania found chemical traces of a 9,000 year old beer on some pottery in a dig in the Neolithic village of Jiahu. (Ed. note: McGovern is also well known in the field for wine and beer studies in Mesopotamia and the wider Near East). Check out the beer label! Full story at The Star.

There is so much more to get to, but I have to leave you with these teasers:
-New Pre-Dynastic Egypt museum being built at Qena (prehistorians like myself rejoice!)
-Mount Sinai in Israel not Egypt? The Vatican thinks so.
-Athens' Parthenon scaffold-free for first time in years
-Colloseum visitors get to visit underground areas (JEALOUS!)

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