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Betsy Williams

Betsy Williams is a graduate student at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, and was the 2012 Jane and Morgan Whitney Fellow in the Museum's Department of Islamic Art. Her dissertation is on precious-metal jewelry and notions of adornment in the Byzantine and early Islamic periods.

Byzantium and Islam Exhibition Blog

The Third Caliph: Uthman ibn Affan

Betsy Williams, Jane and Morgan Whitney Fellow, Department of Islamic Art

Posted: Thursday, April 5, 2012

Struggles of succession plagued the community of Muslims in the decades after the Prophet Muhammed's death in 632 A.D. The first four Muslim leaders, known as the Rashidun, or "Rightly Guided" caliphs, did not succeed by birth, but rather were chosen by council or because of a personal relationship to the Prophet. The period was marked by strident disagreements about legitimacy of individual caliphs and about the proper practice of Islam.

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Byzantium and Islam Exhibition Blog

Islamic Metalwork

Betsy Williams, Jane and Morgan Whitney Fellow, Department of Islamic Art

Posted: Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Silver and gold vessels and architectural elements count among the most dazzling artifacts produced in late antiquity. While Christian, Jewish, and Muslim texts consistently denounce the accumulation of precious metals as reflecting a repellent concern with the trappings of worldly wealth, these traditions also associate gold and silver with heavenly adornment.

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Byzantium and Islam Exhibition Blog

Islamic Art and Architecture

Betsy Williams, Jane and Morgan Whitney Fellow, Department of Islamic Art

Posted: Thursday, March 29, 2012

Introducing the arts of the Islamic world to a new audience is often a challenge for scholars, not only because the reader may be unfamiliar with the names or chronology, but also because the subject covers such a vast geographic area. Islamic Art and Architecture, 650–1250 by Richard Ettinghausen, Oleg Grabar, and Marilyn Jenkins-Madina provides a thorough overview to the arts and architecture of the Islamic world from North Africa to Central Asia beginning with the jahiliyya (pre-Islamic) period and ending with the Mongol siege of Baghdad in 1258. The book illustrates a wide array of objects both secular and sacred, luxurious and mundane.

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Byzantium and Islam Exhibition Blog

John of Damascus (Yuhanna al-Dimashqi)

Betsy Williams, Jane and Morgan Whitney Fellow, Department of Islamic Art

Posted: Thursday, March 22, 2012

Few figures embody the transitional spirit of the seventh and eighth centuries A.D. as fully as does John of Damascus. His life gives a sense of the multicultural milieu of the early Islamic city and its diverse population of Christians and Muslims, Arabs and Greeks.

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Byzantium and Islam Exhibition Blog

Women's Letters from Ancient Egypt, 300 BC–AD 800

Betsy Williams, Jane and Morgan Whitney Fellow, Department of Islamic Art

Posted: Tuesday, March 20, 2012

While many studying the late antique period tend to focus on large-scale political shifts, change on the microlevel is often more difficult to track. Women's Letters from Ancient Egypt offers such a sense of everyday people's daily concerns by allowing us to peek at their correspondence.

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Byzantium and Islam Exhibition Blog

Sounds of Byzantium and Islam

Betsy Williams, Jane and Morgan Whitney Fellow, Department of Islamic Art

Posted: Friday, March 16, 2012

New York offers a feast of sounds for early music enthusiasts who would like to immerse themselves in the aural landscape of the medieval and contemporary Middle East. The Met has scheduled a number of musical events in conjunction with the exhibition Byzantium and Islam: Age of Transition.

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About this Blog

This blog accompanied the special exhibition Byzantium and Islam: Age of Transition, on view March 14–July 8, 2012.