Grantees In The News

“Eternal Sites: From Bamiyan to Palmyra” Exhibition at the Grand Palais, Paris, Shows the Latest Front in Syrian War

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Damaged by War, Syria’s Cultural Sites Rise Anew in France

PARIS — When the Islamic State was about to be driven out of the ancient city of Palmyra in March, Yves Ubelmann got a call from Syria’s director of antiquities to come over in a hurry.

An architect by training, Mr. Ubelmann, 36, had worked in Syria before the country was engulfed by war. But now there was special urgency for the kind of work his youthful team of architects, mathematicians and designers did from their cramped offices in Paris: producing digital copies of threatened historical sites.

Palmyra, parts of it already destroyed by the Islamists who deemed these monuments idolatrous, was still rigged with explosives. So he and Houmam Saad, his Syrian colleague, spent four days flying a drone with a robot camera over the crumbled arches and temples.

The latest front in that war is in the exhibition halls of the Grand Palais in Paris, where, through Jan. 9, many of the 40,000 images he and his team took at Palmyra have become the basis for displays. Called “Eternal Sites: From Bamiyan to Palmyra,” the show aims to draw attention to the rising threats to global heritage. read more…

New Insect Species ‘Erechthis Levyi’ Named in Honour of Leon Levy

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New insect species discovered at Leon Levy Native Plant Preserve on Eleuthera
Bahamas Weekly, Jan. 9, 2017

A new species of insect has been discovered at the Leon Levy Native Plant Preserve in Governor’s Harbour, The Bahamas National Trust’s (BNT) first national park on Eleuthera. The insect is a katydid and belongs to the same group as grasshoppers and crickets in the order Orthoptera.

According to Dr. De Luca,“This find – a new species to science – is a reflection of how much there is still left to learn about insects in The Bahamas, and it only highlights the incredibly important function of habitat preservation. Weare definitely protecting many species that we don’t even know about yet.”

To the layperson, katydids resemble grasshoppers, but are actually more closely related to crickets. Katydids are well-known for the fact that males in many species produce acoustic songs to attract females.

The new species was named Erechthis levyi, in honour of Leon Levy, after whom the Preserve is named. After Leon’s death in 2003, his wife Shelby White wanted to commemorate her husband’s devotion to the island and his love of the native flora. She created the Leon Levy Native Plant Preserve in partnership with The Bahamas National Trust…

New ISAW Exhibit Opens: Time and Cosmos in Greco-Roman Antiquity

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A Manhattan Exhibit With Antiquity on the Clock

In a Roman mosaic from antiquity, a man on a street studies the sundial atop a tall column. The sun alerts him to hurry if he does not want to be late for a dinner invitation.

Sundials were ubiquitous in Mediterranean cultures more than 2,000 years ago. They were the clocks of their day, early tools essential to reckoning the passage of time and its relationship to the larger universe.

The mosaic image is an arresting way station in a new exhibition,”Time and the Cosmos in Greco-Roman Antiquity,” that opened last week in Manhattan at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, an affiliate of New York University. It will continue until April.

The image’s message, the curator Alexander Jones explains in the exhibition catalog, is clearly delivered in a Greek inscription, which reads, “The ninth hour has caught up.” Or further translated by him into roughly modern terms, “It’s 3 p.m. already.” That was the regular dinnertime in those days…

MoMA’s New Online Archive Examines 60 Years of History

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MoMA Will Make Thousands of Exhibition Images Available Online

The New York Times, Sept. 14, 2016

“The Museum of Modern Art, which has defined Modernism more powerfully than perhaps any other institution, can often seem monolithic in the mind’s eye, essentially unchanged since its doors opened in 1929: a procession of solemn white-box galleries, an ice palace of formalism, the Kremlin (as the artist Martha Rosler once called it) of 20th-century art. But a more complicated story has always been told by the hundreds of thousands of documents and photographs in the museum’s archives, a vast accumulation of historical detail that has been accessible mainly to scholars. Beginning Thursday, after years of planning and digitizing, much of that archive will now be available on the museum’s website,moma.org, searchable so that visitors can time-travel to see what the museum looked like during its first big show (“Cézanne, Gauguin, Seurat, van Gogh,” in the fall of 1929); during seminal exhibitions (Kynaston McShine’s “Information” show in 1970, one of the earliest surveys of Conceptual art); and during its moments of high-minded glamour (Audrey Hepburn, in 1957, admiring a Picasso with Alfred H. Barr Jr., the museum’s domineering first director)…”

A Project that aims to vastly reduce water draw and shrink environmental footprint

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Brooklyn’s Botanic Garden Goes on a Water Diet

The Wall Street Journal, Aug. 23, 2016

“The Brooklyn Botanic Garden has embarked on a $17.2 million overhaul intended to slash consumption and waste of one of the garden’s most critical resources: water.

Each year, the botanic garden uses about 22 million gallons of water to fill a 1-acre pool in its Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden. That water flows by stream to a smaller pond to the south, and is eventually discharged into the municipal sewer system.

That annual draw—which doesn’t include water used for irrigation—will shrink by about 95% to an estimated 900,000 gallons under a high-tech water conservation project now under way. Botanic garden officials say it is the first of this scale and complexity in North America…”

First-ever Philistine Cemetery Revealed at Ashkelon

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Story of Philistines Could Be Reshaped by Ancient Cemetery

The New York Times, July 10, 2016

After more than 30 years of excavating the remains of a Philistine city, a team of archaeologists says it believes it has found a cemetery belonging to the ancient people on the outskirts of Ashkelon in Israel.

The team has unearthed skeletons and artifacts that it suspects had rested for more than 3,000 years in the cemetery, potentially offering clues to the Philistines’ lifestyle and perhaps providing some answers to the mysteries of where the Philistines came from. Much has remained unknown about their origins.

“When we found this cemetery right next to a Philistine city, we knew we had it,” said Daniel Master, an archaeologist from Wheaton College in Illinois. “We have the first Philistine cemetery that’s ever been discovered.”

Dr. Master is a co-director of the Leon Levy Expedition to Ashkelon, which has excavated the site since 1985. Ashkelon, which archaeologists think the Philistines entered around 1150 B.C., is one of the five Philistine capitals along with Ashdod, Ekron, Gath and Gaza.

See additional coverage at National Geographic, BBC, NPR, ABC News.

ISAW Exhibits Designing Identity: The Power of Textiles in Late Antiquity

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In Late Antiquity Textiles, a Long-Lasting Fashion Show

NY Times, Science Section, March 14, 2016

Archaeology is about more than rock-hard ruins of palaces and temples, royal mummies in remote tombs and obscure writing on clay tablets. Less durable remains, like fabrics of garments and home decorations that somehow survive time’s decay, can also be telling artifacts of early cultures.

One of their messages, it seems, is that dressing for success and putting on the Ritz are hardly new in the human experience.

An exhibition of more than 50 such artifacts, “Designing Identity: The Power of Textiles in Late Antiquity,” has opened at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, in Manhattan, and will run through May 22. Thelma K. Thomas, the show’s curator, said the examples of clothing, curtains and tapestries “put hopes and desires on display in their motifs, designs and materials, rendering visible both social identity and the inner imagined self.” …

Tackling The Problem of Residential Collisions

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Are Your Windows Killing Birds? How to Prevent Collisions

The Associated Press, March 1, 2016

With a house close to the Eastern Pennsylvania woods — and the wildlife that lives there — Jeff Acopian wrestled with a problem that afflicts homeowners around the country. “Birds were hitting our windows and dying,” the Easton resident says. “And we didn’t like it.”

…Christine Sheppard, who runs the bird collisions campaign for the American Bird Conservancy, cites a range of relatively simple ready-made products — BirdSavers, window tape and external screens among them — as well as DIY fixes like washable window paint or hanging branches in front of windows, that are effective enough while also being subtle.

The Eye of the Shah: Qajar Court Photography and the Persian Past

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 Persia: The Court at Twilight

 The New York Times Review of Books, Jan. 5, 2016

On the NYR Daily, Christopher de Bellaigue writes, “The  photographs in  ‘Eye of the Shah’ are filled with humanity: self-love, pretension, tyranny,      hesitancy, and charm. The exhibition’s two hundred-odd images were executed for the most part by a small number of court and portrait photographers using an ultra-modern medium in a land still run according to the divine writ of kings, where the Shah’s harem contained hundreds of wives, concubines, and eunuchs, and many people continued to keep slaves. It’s in this confrontation—between the bastinado and the wet collodion method—that the principal interest of ‘Eye of the Shah’ lies.”

For more information, visit the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World isaw.nyu.edu

Leon Levy Fellowship in Neuroscience Helps Fill a Critical Gap

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What This Funder is Doing to Save a Lost Generation (of Neuroscientists)

Inside Philanthropy, December 30, 2015

“There’s really no opportunity in government funding for people just starting off, so a whole generation could be lost if they don’t get early experience and support,” said Robert Goldrich, Leon Levy Foundation president. “The Levy Foundation wanted to make a difference in neuroscience, and the problem of early-career support was identified as an opportunity.”

“When the NIH budget contracted, compounded by the recession, we saw that the traditional business model for academic medicine was no longer viable,” said Jeffrey Lieberman, MD, Chair of Columbia’s Department of Psychiatry. The portion of Columbia psychiatry’s research budget from philanthropy grew from about 3 percent a decade ago to nearly 15 percent today, and it’s still growing, he said.