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Byzantium and Islam Exhibition Blog

The Church in the Shadow of the Mosque: Christians and Muslims in the World of Islam by Sidney H. Griffith

Heather Badamo, Harper-Schmidt Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Art History, University of Chicago

Posted: Friday, June 22, 2012

Walking through galleries that display Qur'ans and Muslim palatial sculpture, you may wonder what happened to the Christian communities who came to live under Islamic rule. In The Church in the Shadow of the Mosque, Sidney H. Griffith goes some way toward answering this question, showing how Christians made a place for themselves in the new Islamic caliphate.

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Byzantium and Islam Exhibition Blog

The Dome of the Rock

Ana Botchkareva, Jane and Morgan Whitney Fellow, Department of Islamic Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Posted: Friday, June 22, 2012

Originally constructed between 688 and 692 under the rule of Abd al-Malik, whom Yitzchak introduced in the previous post, the Dome of the Rock is one of the most emblematic architectural landmarks in the history of Islamic culture. On the one hand, the monument carries a unique and unifying significance for Islamic religious communities over broad temporal and geographic scopes; on the other hand, it reflects the far-reaching extent of intercultural contacts and dialogues that have shaped such Islamic communities over time, on a local level.

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Byzantium and Islam Exhibition Blog

Abd al Malik ibn Marwan

Yitzchak Schwartz, Intern, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Thursday, June 21, 2012

Born in Mecca and raised in Medina, the two most holy sites of Islam, the fifth caliph, Abd Al Malik Ibn Marwan, spearheaded the creation of many of the institutions that centralized the Islamic empire around his capital in Damascus and asserted its independence from Byzantine traditions.

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Byzantium and Islam Exhibition Blog

Costume Styles

Annie Labatt, 2012 Chester Dale Fellow, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Although this exhibition demonstrates how difficult it can be to draw definitive cultural distinctions during periods of transition, certain forms of dress from the period do indicate regional affiliations.

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Byzantium and Islam Exhibition Blog

Synagogue at Hammam Lif, Tunisia

Yitzchak Schwartz, Intern, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Thursday, June 14, 2012

In the late nineteenth century, French soldiers stationed at the town of Hammam Lif—the ancient city of Naro in southern Tunisia—accidentally rediscovered an ancient structure. The building's layout and floor mosaics were so in line with regional conventions that it was at first thought to have been a church. However, the Latin inscription in the center of the mosaic floor, which identifies the building as "Sancta Sinagoga" and is flanked by menorahs on either side, revealed the site to be a synagogue.

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Byzantium and Islam Exhibition Blog

Walid II

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

Posted: Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Although al-Walid ibn Yazid, known as al-Walid II (r. 743–744), ruled for only a year, he is nonetheless one of the most colorful Umayyad caliphs. A grandson of Abd al-Malik, builder of the Dome of the Rock, he is recorded in historical sources as a proverbial man about town. His behavior was considered so profligate that he was passed over in succession to grandfather's throne. Instead, his uncle Hisham became caliph and al-Walid retired to his desert qasr to pass his time in song and pleasure among a retinue of his favorite drinking companions.

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Byzantium and Islam Exhibition Blog

Conservation of the Sixth-Century Mosaics at the Church of the Monastery of Saint Catherine at Mount Sinai

Stephanie Caruso, Graduate Student at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University

Posted: Thursday, June 7, 2012

As discussed in an earlier post, Saint Catherine's Monastery in Sinai has been continuously inhabited since the fourth century A.D. Remarkably, a lavish figural mosaic program from the sixth century, occupying the conch of the church's apse and a surrounding triumphal arch, survives to this day.

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Byzantium and Islam Exhibition Blog

Qasr al-Mshatta

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

Posted: Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Look closely at the carved stonework from the facade of Qasr al-Mshatta, and you will spot a world of griffins, peacocks, lions, and pheasants hiding in the shade of delicately rendered grape leafs. The refinement of the representations here has captivated scholars and public alike for a century, ever since it arrived in Berlin as a gift from the Ottoman Sultan Abdulhamid to Kaiser Wilhelm I shortly before World War I.

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Byzantium and Islam Exhibition Blog

Byzantium and . . . Hip-Hop?

Grace Labatt, Editor, Voyageur Press

Posted: Thursday, May 31, 2012

Fourteen centuries after the works on display in Byzantium and Islam were created, Byzantine art is flourishing where you might least expect it: the streets of New York. That's where artist Manny Vega displays his large-scale mosaics of saints, heroes, dancers, and conga-drumming angels, all made using true Byzantine techniques.

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Byzantium and Islam Exhibition Blog

Interview with the Textile Conservator

Annie Labatt, 2012 Chester Dale Fellow, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Wednesday, May 23, 2012

One of the most interesting things about working on an exhibition is getting to meet all the different people involved on the project. Each member of the team performs a crucial role in preparing for an exhibition. I recently interviewed Kathrin Colburn, a textile conservator here, to find out about her work.

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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.