Geological Museum:Enlightening role in development [Archives:2005/893/Front Page]

November 10 2005

The importance of specialized scientific museums in enlightening the minds of different social classes and their contribution to embodying the meaning of culture in various sciences was recognized with the establishment of a geological museum in Yemen. As all people are aware, geology of the earth is a science dating back millions of years. Therefore the history of the geological museum is not similar to that of other museums that span for a short period of time in human civilization.

In 1999, the Ministry of Oil and Minerals initiated efforts to establish a geological museum. Despite the fact that the museum was not officially opened at that time, these efforts represent a great scientific and cultural achievement.

A museum can be defined as the place in which cultural heritage is kept for educational and cultural purposes. Nowadays museums are not merely places for keeping antiquities, instead they are centers for education, knowledge and culture in different areas.

When the Yemen Times reporter visited the museum, he found that it consists of two sections for receiving and displaying samples. These sections collect, study and document samples and ancient articles which are related to mineral activities. They receive different types mineral and stone samples from engineers and citizens and then arrange and display them and ensure they are safe. Schoolboys, university students, and people interested in geology can visit the museum to have a look at its contents.

The display section contains hand-made samples relevant to domestic services, olden mineral tools, samples of the industrial stones, metals and non-metals, agates and other articles.

There are four goals of the museum:

1) The historical goal: to learn the history of minerals and the remains of traditional articles used in handicrafts and then to document and display them.

2) The cultural goal: the museum generalizes and spreads the geological culture to the different social classes: specialists, experts, students and ordinary citizens.

3) The educational goal: the museum is an educational tool as its contents are connected with ancient samples of the scientific fields of geology and geography. The museum contains maps and photos through which students can obtain more information about minerals and stones.

4) The economic goal: the museum can promote the local services and make national investors acquainted with the local services aware of the requirements of the industry of minerals and stones in Yemen.

Contents of the museum:

The Geological Museum contains a number of exhibited articles. The first type of these exhibited articles can be described as historical, indicating that Yemenis have an exemplary history in the field of minerals and handicrafts. These handicrafts emerged in Yemen in different areas due to the differing availability of raw materials in those areas.

Historically, the Yemeni people realized the importance of minerals and their use in the decoration of house walls, and they exported them to other countries. The reality of minerals in Yemen emerges from the fact that Yemenis established their civilization through investing in minerals. The people of Sheba, for instance, were famous for the exploitation of gold to become very rich at that time. Because of the profusion of gold mines in their lands, doors of houses, temples, walls and roofs were variegated with gold, silver and agates.

The people of Sheba were skilled in polishing stones after extracting them from mountains. These stones were then used in the construction of dams, temples and houses.

In the section of historical articles one finds that contents can be classed into two groups, the first of which is related to the ancient articles. These include metal samples and stone ruins, in addition to articles that were used by mineral experts during old mining processes. These tools include masahiq (lotion stones) that were used in grinding crude gold. Additionally, there are some stone samples containing lead.

The second group consists of exhibited articles related to traditional Yemeni geological industry. These include the manufacturing of domestic crude materials such as red brick, pottery and alabaster. This in turn reflects the skills of ancient Yemenis and their enthusiasm to exploit the natural wealth of, and ability to adapt to, the geological environment.

The second section of the museum contents contains samples of minerals and stones that were collected from different parts of the Republic. These minerals are identified, arranged and exhibited in a manner that facilitates recognition for all people. This group is divided into metals, non-metals, external minerals and stones and industrialized stones.

The third section of the museum contains construction stones and ornaments that were collected to be used as real wealth for the country. These stones are used extensively in the construction and decoration of buildings, adding beauty and taste to Yemen's distinctive architecture.

The people who work in the museum did not forget to exhibit the agates available in Yemen, which is renowned for its agates. In the olden times, the Yemeni man exploited resources such as these, profited from them domestically and exported them to other countries. This mineral wealth is lavishly promoted and their beauty amazes the beholder. This is reflected today as any visitor to Yemen dares not to leave without taking a ring, a bracelet or any other piece of gold.

The fourth section of the museum amazes the visitor for its varied articles that remain as a unique group because of their scarcity. These include stone samples of geographical fame like the basalt samples that were brought from the islands of Zugar and Hunaish. Other unique samples like the iron meteors that fell down in 1999 in the district of Yafe', are displayed as well as other educational and typical samples.

In addition to these displays, the museum contains exhibited articles of economic crude materials, such as glass, white cement and others. There are also displays of stone and fossil formation in Yemen that illustrate many geological periods.

The geological museum is an important institution in popularizing the mineral wealth of Yemen, but its' limited facilities render it incomplete due to the lack of samples and the lack of a more spacious area. Presently, the museum is a hall of medium capacity that will benefit from being improved in days to come.