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Current Exhibitions

Highlights from the Karam Collection

November 11, 2021
through January 15, 2023

Bust of young man holding palm frond
Bust of young man holding palm frond, Stone sculpture, Roman Syria, ca. 2nd-3rd cent. CE. Karam Collection, USF Libraries’ Special Collections, 63

In 1998, Dr. Farid Karam and his wife Jehanne generously donated 149 objects to the Special Collections of the University of South Florida (USF) Libraries. The authentic antiquities originate from ancient Syria, Phoenicia, Egypt, Greece and the Arab world. In date, they range from the Bronze Age to the early Islamic period (ca. fifteenth-century BCE – thirteenth-century CE). The metal, stone, glass and ceramic artifacts include cosmetic and medical implements, utility vessels and oil lamps, as well as sculptures and figurines. This presentation of 58 highlights is the first time the Karam Collection of Lebanese Antiquities is on display for the general public. The selection reveals Dr. Karam’s profound interest in the diversity of ancient cultures found in the Eastern Mediterranean. 

Learn more about the Karam Collection at the USF Libraries.

About Farid Karam, M.D. 

Farid Karam (1929–2018) was born in a Greek Orthodox village in northern Lebanon. After specializing in plastic surgery in Cleveland, Ohio (1961), he taught medicine at the American University of Beirut Hospital until 1976. Due to the outbreak of the Lebanese Civil War (1975–1990) he moved to Bay Pines, Florida. In 1992, Dr. Karam was appointed Associate Professor of Plastic Surgery at the University of South Florida College of Medicine in Tampa, Florida. Before returning to Lebanon, where he continued to practice otolaryngology and facial plastic surgery, Dr. Karam donated his antiquities collection to USF. Since 1977, Dr. Karam was a member of the World Scout Foundation headed by King Carl Gustav of Sweden and received the highest medal for life achievements, the Bronze Wolf Medal. Dr. Karam passed away on March 1, 2018, in his hometown in northern Lebanon. 

The Ancient Levant 

The Eastern Mediterranean seaboard, also known as the Levant, which is the region of present-day Syria, Lebanon and Israel, has been inhabited since prehistoric times. Some of the oldest cities in world history were founded there. From the Bronze Age, peoples called Canaanites, Phoenicians or Philistines populated the region. The Israelites appeared in the Iron Age. They all spoke Semitic languages. Phoenicians based their wealth on trade – especially purple dye and wine as well as cedar wood and glass. They also contributed their alphabet to the development of ancient civilizations across the Mediterranean. During the early first millennium BCE, Phoenician trade colonies were established across the southwestern Mediterranean, most notably the city of Carthage. The Eastern Mediterranean coast meanwhile came under the successive spheres of influence from Egypt, Assyria, Babylonia and Persia. The Seleucids and Ptolemies, dynasties ruling from Babylon and Egypt respectively, competed for power over the region during much of the Hellenistic period (ca. 323–30 BCE). In 64 BCE, Roman rule was established and for the following four centuries, Syria became one of the richest eastern provinces of the Roman Empire. In the Mediaeval period, the region first came under the influence of the Christian Byzantine empire and then the Muslim Arab world.