Posted: Friday, May 22, 2015
Archaeological objects and works of art in museum collections are not only treasured for their aesthetic qualities, but are also repositories of invaluable information, often concealed at a first sight, about the civilizations that created them. Among the many beautiful pieces in the collection of the Met's Department of Egyptian Art, it is interesting to note one modest stone fragment (fig.1), the scientific investigation of which has provided a clue that could solve a long-time debate among Egyptologists and historians of technologies: the use of high-performance abrasives.
Posted: Tuesday, May 12, 2015
I am sometimes met with raised eyebrows when I tell friends that part of what I do here at the Met is research the permanent collection of the Department of Islamic Art. After all, the collection is world famous, and in the century since its formation numerous experts have dedicated time and energy to its care. What more is there to research? One of the joys of working with complex artifacts, however, is that there is often more to be discovered, even if the object is well known and has been carefully documented and described in the past. New ways of looking at art emerge as the tools that curators and conservators have at their disposal become increasingly sophisticated, and, because the field of art history itself is always evolving, the questions that specialists ask of objects also change over time.
Posted: Friday, May 8, 2015
The Met's collection is a world of inspiration for artists. As an administrator in the Department of Greek and Roman Art and a jewelry designer, I often stop in the galleries on my way to a meeting or sketch during my lunch break, and I am constantly looking to past centuries for new ideas.
Posted: Tuesday, February 17, 2015
The remains of the festival city of Malqata are located on the west bank of the Nile, about 430 miles south of Cairo, opposite the modern city of Luxor (usually referred to by Egyptologists as Thebes). The festival city dates to the time of the pharaoh Amenhotep III, who reigned during the second half of Dynasty 18, during Egypt's New Kingdom. This pharaoh was the father of Akhenaten, and very likely the grandfather of Tutankhamun.
Posted: Monday, December 22, 2014
Much of what we know about the interconnectivity of the Mediterranean world in the first millennium B.C. relies on archaeological discoveries of the past two centuries. Indeed, behind all of the objects on display in Assyria to Iberia lie modern stories of discovery and recovery. The city of Babylon in southern Iraq, once reduced almost to a figment of modern imagination, was revealed by excavations beginning in the nineteenth century. The Assyrian empire, once unknown outside the Bible, was brought to light by excavations in northern Iraq beginning in the middle of the nineteenth century. And the cities of the Phoenician homeland in modern Lebanon were explored in the mid-nineteenth century and then excavated beginning in the 1920s. Archaeological discovery has also played an important role in our understanding of the origins of the alphabet, which was invented in the early second millennium B.C. and spread across the Mediterranean world in the first millennium B.C.
Posted: Tuesday, December 9, 2014
Board games were popular entertainments in the ancient Near East. So what games did the Assyrians and the Phoenicians like to play? Part of the answer is in the very first room of the exhibition Assyria to Iberia at the Dawn of the Classical Age, on an ivory box from Enkomi. This unique object has a grid with twenty playing squares incised on its upper surface. Although no accessories were found with this box, we can deduce from other archaeological assemblages and pictorial representations what kind of pieces and dice were required.
Posted: Wednesday, December 3, 2014
As a new curatorial research fellow in the Department of Islamic Art, I am becoming acquainted with many different aspects of museum life such as museum education and exhibition practices, but I spend most of my time researching our rich collection of Islamic art objects. I've recently been examining a large group of wooden panel pieces, many of which were parts of minbars (pulpits) in mosques in Egypt during the Mamluk period (1250–1517)—some of these are on display in gallery 454. In this group, I came across a rectangular panel (shown above) that is inlaid with carved ivory and bears an inscription in Arabic.
Posted: Friday, June 13, 2014
When Kate Soper's adventurous score for I Was Here I Was I fills The Temple of Dendur in The Sackler Wing on June 20, the gallery itself will be at the center of the performance. The Temple of Dendur has long been an unrivaled venue for concerts, but for this dramatic and unprecedented finale to Alarm Will Sound's yearlong residency, the Temple will be the principal character in a story that spans two millennia and three different storylines.
Posted: Tuesday, April 8, 2014
The Cesnola Collection of Cypriot Art: Stone Sculpture (2014) is the first comprehensive publication of 635 stone sculptures in the Met's extensive collection of ancient art from the island of Cyprus. Published online, in a historic first for the Museum, the publication is available to read, download, and search in MetPublications at no cost. A paperbound edition, complete and printed as a 436-page print-on-demand book with 949 full-color illustrations, is also available for purchase and can be ordered on Yale University Press's website.
Posted: Thursday, July 5, 2012
In many cases, burials have served as windows onto a past culture's daily life. Children's graves are no exception. Although attracting less archaeological attention than other finds, they provide abundant material that informs our understanding of the diverse activities and habits of people during the Greco-Roman, Byzantine, and Islamic eras.