Pavilion

Bahrain Pavilion

Archaeologies of Green, the pavilion of the Kingdom of Bahrain, at the Expo Milano 2015 is a poetic interpretation of the cultural agrarian heritage of the country, which stems from the ancient civilization of Dilmun.

With ten distinctive fruit gardens, containing trees that will be fruit–bearing at different moments throughout the six-month duration of the exhibition, the pavilion also features archaeological artifacts that celebrate the millennia long tradition of agriculture and perpetuate the many myths of Bahrain as the location of the Garden of Eden and the land of the million palm trees.

Built out of white prefabricated concrete panels, the pavilion will be moved to Bahrain at the end of the Expo and once rebuilt will serve as a botanical garden. The prefabricated components of the buildings, visible through the seams that connect them to one another, loosely refer to the inherent and distinguished forms of the archaeology of Bahrain.

Archaeologies of Green

Inspired by the archaeology of ancient Bahrain and its agricultural landscape, the national pavilion of the Kingdom of Bahrain presents the country's distinct heritage while addressing the challenges associated with food security, water provision and arable land.

Designed as a continuous landscape of fruit gardens that each contain a dominant fruit tree that is native to Bahrain, the gardens are intersected by a series of closed spaces that contain in turn a reception area, exhibition spaces and a café serving local Bahraini food. The spaces all overlook and frame the gardens, which form the main exhibition component of the pavilion and recount the rich agrarian heritage of the Islands.

The Pavilion, aptly named Archaeologies of Green, is an unprecedented examination of the relationship between Bahraini culture, ancient heritage and agriculture. Both artistic and scientific, the Pavilion weaves the different elements together –built out of white prefabricated concrete panels, which interconnect, visitors obtain a unique outlook on the country's archaeology through its seams. The gardens are supplemented by an exhibition of archaeological objects from the ancient Dilmun and Tylos eras that refer to the agricultural practices of that era as well as to the many myths surrounding the Islands in addition to a short film which reflects on the contemporary agricultural landscape of Bahrain.

1. Musa Basjoo

Banana

The banana plant is a large tropical and sub-tropical herbaceous plant with a fleshy pseudo stem consisting of overlapping leaf sheaths.

First cultivated by humans at around 8000 BC, it is one of the earliest examples of domesticated plants. Although it cannot tolerate cold weather and is relatively intolerant to salinity, the local variety grown in Bahrain is suited to the saline soil of its environment. The variety Musa velutina bears unusual pink fruits.

Banana leaves and the skin of the banana fruit have traditionally been used in Bahrain to peel dead skin. Women would apply a paste of banana leaves soaked in oil to their feet for an hour or two before applying henna (a temporary dye) and brides were normally provided this treatment before their wedding day. Banana leaves can also be boiled with melon seeds and the mixture is applied to the face –to soften and lighten the complexion.

  • Growing in:
  • Banana Garden
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  • Date Garden
10 / 09 / 2015 / 17:13  / 
30 / 08 / 2015 / 15:05  / 
25 / 08 / 2015 / 14:37  / 
12 / 08 / 2015 / 18:33  / 
06 / 08 / 2015 / 13:12  / 
06 / 08 / 2015 / 13:12  / 
30 / 06 / 2015 / 17:53  / 
11 / 06 / 2015 / 17:13, Banana Garden  / 
04 / 06 / 2015 / 00:35, Banana Garden  / 
05 / 05 / 2015 / 22:25, Banana Garden  / 
18 / 04 / 2015 / 13:22, Banana Garden  / 
18 / 04 / 2015 / 13:22, Banana Garden  / 

2. Ficus Carica

Fig

One of the first plants to have been cultivated by humans, its cultivation marks the first instance of agriculture. Often referred to as the common or edible fig, it grows in the wild in dry and sunny areas. In the book of Deuteronomy, the fig is specified as one of the seven species describing the land of Canaan –a set of seven plants indigenous to the Middle East that together provide food all year round.

Due to their ornamental features, fig leaves are often used in painting, notably to cover the genitals of nude figures. In Bahrain, fig leaves are used in a popular game played by young girls where leaves are collected and collated according to their size, or used to make special arrangements to decorate plasticine.

  • Growing in:
  • Banana Garden
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  • Fig Garden
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  • Jujube Garden
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  • Date Garden
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  • Pomegrenate Garden
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  • Papaya Garden
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  • Grape Garden
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10 / 09 / 2015 / 17:14  / 
30 / 08 / 2015 / 15:07  / 
06 / 08 / 2015 / 13:15  / 
06 / 08 / 2015 / 13:14  / 
06 / 08 / 2015 / 13:14  / 
01 / 08 / 2015 / 13:38  / 
26 / 07 / 2015 / 13:49  / 
10 / 05 / 2015 / 14:01, Jujube Garden  / 
05 / 05 / 2015 / 22:28, Jujube Garden  / 
18 / 04 / 2015 / 13:21, Fig Garden  / 
18 / 04 / 2015 / 13:18, Fig Garden  / 

3. Ziziphus Jujuba

Jujube

Believed to have originated in Southern Asia, the jujube tree tolerates a wide range of temperatures including hot summers provided it receives enough water to bear fruits. Unlike many other fruits, in the genus, the jujube tree also tolerates cold temperatures, allowing it to be widespread on the islands of Bahrain that can witness cold winters.

Thought to bring wealth and prosperity, the jujube fruit was commonly planted in the courtyards of houses in Bahrain and can still be seen in many Bahraini homes. A popular fruit, it represents a common ingredient to Bahraini dishes and is often pickled or jammed. In addition, its essential oils are used to moisturise skin and hair.

  • Growing in:
  • Jujube Garden
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  • Date Garden
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  • Papaya Garden
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10 / 09 / 2015 / 17:10  / 
30 / 08 / 2015 / 15:06  / 
30 / 08 / 2015 / 15:06  / 
01 / 08 / 2015 / 13:37  / 
20 / 05 / 2015 / 15:35, Jujube Garden  / 
16 / 05 / 2015 / 19:47, Jujube Garden  / 
20 / 04 / 2015 / 19:00, Jujube Garden  / 

4. Opentia Ficus Indica

Indian fig

Also referred to as the barbarian fig, it is one of the most dispersed forms of cacti and can be found in most dry climates –Mexico, Morocco, Syria and Spain amongst others. The plant is mostly cultivated for its fruit that can be eaten when ripe after removing the skin. Although often planted for its fruit, the fig is also considered as a pest due to its ability to spread rapidly beyond areas where it has been planted. It can be found in such circumstances in traditional Bahraini gardens and orchards, and is also commonly used as a hedge or wind barrier.

  • Growing in:
  • Jujube Garden
  • ,
  • Indian Fig Garden
  • ,
  • Date Garden
10 / 09 / 2015 / 17:07  / 
10 / 09 / 2015 / 17:09  / 
30 / 08 / 2015 / 15:11  / 
30 / 08 / 2015 / 15:11  / 
25 / 08 / 2015 / 14:44  / 
25 / 08 / 2015 / 14:43  / 
06 / 08 / 2015 / 13:43  / 
06 / 08 / 2015 / 13:42  / 
01 / 08 / 2015 / 13:40  / 
26 / 07 / 2015 / 13:50  / 
18 / 05 / 2015 / 15:05, Indian Fig Garden  / 
14 / 05 / 2015 / 19:27, Indian Fig Garden  / 
12 / 05 / 2015 / 21:11, Indian Fig Garden  / 
10 / 05 / 2015 / 14:03, Indian Fig Garden  / 
05 / 05 / 2015 / 22:35, Indian Fig Garden  / 
18 / 04 / 2015 / 13:21, Date Garden  / 

Video Essay

The installation, based on film and sound field recordings, attempts to reflect on agricultural spaces on the Islands of Bahrain, from traditional farming fields to intensive hydroponic greenhouses.

This fieldwork follows the narrative of an archaeology of the "invisible" knowledge infrastructures underpinning agriculture, from water and energy management, desalination and sewage cleaning plants, through geological and soil research, organic chemistry laboratories, to seed and plant vaults, biology laboratories, land use strategies and land ownership, financial and logistical food production planning and management on both the local and international scales. 

How is this knowledge shared and transmitted? How is it connected to ancient tradition? How does it link archeology to contemporary narratives and display strategies, including the Pavilion space itself? Rather then providing answers to these complex interconnections, the artistic work tries to engage the public in opening up the space within which these questions resonate.

Armin Linke, Giulia Bruno, Giuseppe Ielasi, 2015

5. Phoenix Dactylifera

Date Palm

The palm tree is considered the primary crop in Bahrain as it occupies 85% of the land dedicated for growing fruit. There are more than 100 varieties of dates, differing in size, colour and the time in which they ripen. The palm tree has always represented great importance in the life of Bahrainis, who utilised almost every part of the tree in their daily livelihood. Deeply rooted in local folklore and conscience, the palm tree is often referred to in the Holy Quran.

Dates are used extensively in the preparation of sweets and desserts and can be made into molasses, used as a sweet seasoning. Beyond the date fruits, Bahrain is also famous for producing Palm Water, or Ma’ Liqah, which is believed to have medicinal properties and is often added to tea as a popular drink.

  • Growing in:
  • Fig Garden
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  • Jujube Garden
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  • Indian Fig Garden
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  • Date Garden
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  • Olive Garden
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  • Papaya Garden
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  • Grape Garden
10 / 09 / 2015 / 17:07  / 
30 / 08 / 2015 / 15:11  / 
30 / 08 / 2015 / 15:12  / 
25 / 08 / 2015 / 14:42  / 
14 / 05 / 2015 / 19:25, Date Garden  / 
05 / 05 / 2015 / 22:40, Olive Garden  / 
18 / 04 / 2015 / 13:21, Date Garden  / 

6. Punica Granatum

Pomegrenate

Originating in the region between the Himalayas and Egypt, the pomegranate tree has been cultivated since ancient times in the Arabian Peninsula. Described in the Holy Quran as one of the fruits that grow in paradise with mentions in the Bible and in many ancient and Babylonian texts, it is a widely symbolic fruit –at times representing fertility while at others, prosperity and ambition.

Pomegranates are used in Bahrain to make juices and molasses while the seeds are dried to produce the anardana spice, which is used to season local rice dishes. Pomegranate leaves are also added to henna paste as a dye fixative. In addition, pomegranate was used as a decorative symbol in weddings to embellish the bride’s room.

  • Growing in:
  • Fig Garden
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  • Jujube Garden
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  • Indian Fig Garden
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  • Date Garden
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  • Pomegrenate Garden
  • ,
  • Olive Garden
18 / 10 / 2015 / 21:32  / 
10 / 09 / 2015 / 17:10  / 
30 / 08 / 2015 / 15:09  / 
25 / 08 / 2015 / 14:44  / 
06 / 08 / 2015 / 13:23  / 
26 / 07 / 2015 / 13:45  / 
30 / 06 / 2015 / 18:01  / 
11 / 06 / 2015 / 17:15, Pomegrenate Garden  / 
12 / 05 / 2015 / 20:39, Pomegrenate Garden  / 
05 / 05 / 2015 / 22:41, Pomegrenate Garden  / 
18 / 04 / 2015 / 13:20, Pomegrenate Garden  / 

7. Citrus

C. X Limon / C. Medica / C. Sinensis / C. Aurantium

First recorded in an Arabic treatise on farming in the 10th Century, citrus trees were used as ornamental plants in early Islamic gardens and were widely present throughout the Arab world.

Today, lemons are widely used as a seasoning ingredient in Bahraini food –the lemons are dried of their water content in the sun and then used whole, sliced or ground as a spice to season many meat and rice dishes.

Citrus medica, the citron tree, bears large fruits that can weigh as much as half a kilo each. These fruits have a distinctive strong citrus scent and are popular for the manufacture of Bahraini marmalades and Bahraini Halwa, a local confectionery. The variety ‘Buddha’s Hand’ has impressive fingered fruits.

The Bahraini orange, or bitter orange, is distinguished by its sharp, acidic flavour. It cannot be eaten as a fresh fruit, but is usually added to the meat of the qabaaqab, the Bahraini crab.

  • Growing in:
  • Jujube Garden
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  • Indian Fig Garden
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  • Pomegrenate Garden
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  • Olive Garden
  • ,
  • Citrus Garden
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18 / 10 / 2015 / 21:34  / 
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25 / 08 / 2015 / 14:41  / 
12 / 08 / 2015 / 18:32  / 
06 / 08 / 2015 / 13:20  / 
06 / 08 / 2015 / 13:19  / 
01 / 08 / 2015 / 13:41  / 
23 / 05 / 2015 / 15:11, Olive Garden  / 
16 / 05 / 2015 / 20:01, Olive Garden  / 
05 / 05 / 2015 / 22:44, Citrus Garden  / 
18 / 04 / 2015 / 13:18, Citrus Garden  / 

8. Olea Europaea

Olive

A sub-species of the Olea Cuspidate, the Olea Europaea is an evergreen tree that can be found in different parts of the world, from South Africa to the Middle East and China. Although more extensively found in the Levant and Mediterranean climates, the Olea Europea has been grown in Bahrain since ancient times due to its tolerance of salinity and need for cold winters in order to produce large quantities of flowers. In Bahrain it was often referred to as “more bitter than bitterness and sweeter than honey, smaller than a wasp and larger than a camel”

Traditionally, olives were used as a treatment for a larynx injury due to fish thorns or bones –women would boil the olive seeds until tender and the liquid would then be administered to melt or soften the fish thorn.

  • Growing in:
  • Fig Garden
  • ,
  • Pomegrenate Garden
  • ,
  • Olive Garden
18 / 10 / 2015 / 21:33  / 
30 / 08 / 2015 / 15:08  / 
25 / 08 / 2015 / 14:37  / 
12 / 08 / 2015 / 18:32  / 
26 / 05 / 2015 / 15:27, Olive Garden  / 
21 / 05 / 2015 / 20:08, Olive Garden  / 
05 / 05 / 2015 / 22:46, Citrus Garden  / 
18 / 04 / 2015 / 13:20, Olive Garden  / 

9. Carica Papaya

Papaya

Originating in Central and Southern America, the Carica papaya ranks today as the third tropical fruit in terms of export and is widely cultivated in tropical countries. The papaya plant comes in three sexes, including hermaphrodite, which is able to self-polinate and is most commonly grown in commercial orchards.

In Bahrain, it is found in most traditional farms and gardens in all three sexes and there is a common belief that touching papaya seeds leads to the creation of masculine trees. Often used as a balsam when washing hair, green papaya is also added to the cooking process to help tender meat.

  • Growing in:
  • Papaya Garden
10 / 09 / 2015 / 16:53  / 
25 / 08 / 2015 / 14:38  / 
26 / 05 / 2015 / 15:36, Papaya Garden  / 
23 / 05 / 2015 / 15:07, Papaya Garden  / 
20 / 05 / 2015 / 14:33, Papaya Garden  / 
16 / 05 / 2015 / 20:03, Papaya Garden  / 
12 / 05 / 2015 / 20:38, Papaya Garden  / 
05 / 05 / 2015 / 22:47, Papaya Garden  / 
18 / 04 / 2015 / 13:17, Papaya Garden  / 

10. Vitis Vinifera

Grape

The presence of grapes in Bahrain dates back to the Tylos civilization with the traces of carbonized grapes even found through archaeo-botanical methods that date to the late Dilmun period, 500 BC. Grapes were widely available across the Middle East up to the 7th Century when the expansion of Islam caused their cultivation to decline.

Today, they can still be found in some gardens and orchards across Bahrain. Although, vine leaves belong to the Syrian kitchen, they have recently become one of the basic appetizers on Bahraini dining tables. Vine leaves are used in cooking and are stuffed with a mixture of rice and minced meat or vegetables.

  • Growing in:
  • Banana Garden
  • ,
  • Jujube Garden
  • ,
  • Indian Fig Garden
  • ,
  • Pomegrenate Garden
  • ,
  • Grape Garden
10 / 09 / 2015 / 16:54  / 
30 / 08 / 2015 / 15:18  / 
25 / 08 / 2015 / 14:39  / 
12 / 08 / 2015 / 18:36  / 
06 / 08 / 2015 / 13:29  / 
26 / 07 / 2015 / 13:43  / 
30 / 06 / 2015 / 17:58  / 
30 / 06 / 2015 / 17:58  / 
11 / 06 / 2015 / 17:14, Grape Garden  / 
11 / 06 / 2015 / 16:49, Indian Fig Garden  / 
20 / 05 / 2015 / 14:31, Grape Garden  / 
14 / 05 / 2015 / 19:26, Grape Garden  / 
05 / 05 / 2015 / 22:48, Grape Garden  / 
18 / 04 / 2015 / 13:18, Grape Garden  / 

Archaeology

The strategic location of Bahrain – the ancient land of Dilmun, and later Tylos – in the heart of the Arabian Gulf and at a crossroads linking the Ancient Near East to the Indus Valley, laid out the foundation for a vital harbour and marketplace as early as the 3rd millennium BC. This privileged positioning was complemented with an exceptional natural advantage exemplified in the surfacing of underground freshwater reservoirs in the form of abundant artesian springs, creating a “sea” of freshwater and forming the basis for productive horticulture. The luxuriant gardens of Bahrain, its pleasant climate and sheltered harbours have caught the attention of travellers since antiquity and made of Bahrain a coveted destination and a key transit point for both people and merchandise.

It is this outstanding natural wealth that allowed people to settle and thrive as early as the 4th millennium BC and the main reason behind the attribute that has given the country its modern name - Bahrain (literally “two seas” in Arabic).

Burial stele - Figurative stele Limestone, Tylos,
height: 33 cm, width: 28 cm