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Byzantium and Islam Exhibition Blog

Art & Judaism in the Greco-Roman World: Toward a New Jewish Archaeology by Steven Fine

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

Posted: Wednesday, April 25, 2012

In Art & Judaism in the Greco-Roman World: Toward a New Jewish Archaeology, Steven Fine tackles the question of what ancient Jewish art meant to the people who experienced and made it.

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Byzantium and Islam Exhibition Blog

Iconoclasm

Evan Freeman, Graduate Student, St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary

Posted: Monday, April 23, 2012

Iconoclasm in eighth- and ninth-century Byzantium is often presented as a straightforward, universal policy that was widely enforced. Do the works in the exhibition support such a view?

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Byzantium and Islam Exhibition Blog

Saint Shenoute of Atripe

Alzahraa K. Ahmed, Intern, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Scholars have debated whether Saint Shenoute of Atripe lived from 332–451 or 350–466—an astonishing length of time in either case—but all agree that he was one of the most important monastic reformers the Coptic Church has ever known.

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Byzantium and Islam Exhibition Blog

The Formation of Islamic Art by Oleg Grabar

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

Posted: Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Most surveys of Islamic art proceed chronologically or geographically to synthesize several centuries of material covering a region stretching from Spain to Afghanistan. Oleg Grabar's book, The Formation of Islamic Art, instead focuses thematically on the earliest centuries of Islam.

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Byzantium and Islam Exhibition Blog

Hajj: A Journey to Meet God

Alzahraa K. Ahmed, Intern, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Monday, April 16, 2012

The words "pilgrimage" and "sacred space," one evoking human movement and the other performative space, are inseparable from one another. Through pilgrimage, the pilgrim embarks on a spiritual path toward the full submission to God in an often-distant sacred space.

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Byzantium and Islam Exhibition Blog

Qusayr ‘Amra

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

Posted: Thursday, April 12, 2012

Umayyad qusur, or desert "palaces," are known for their variety of architectural styles and decoration. One example, Qusayr 'Amra, is well known on both counts.

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Byzantium and Islam Exhibition Blog

Border Lines: The Partition of Judaeo-Christianity
by Daniel Boyarin

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

Posted: Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Today we perceive Judaism and Christianity as totally separate religions, but in Border Lines: The Partition of Judaeo-Christianity, author Daniel Boyarin describes the process in which "borders" were created to divide what was once a unified "Judaeo-Christianity," and the rich cultural interactions that took place between Jews and Christians even as the divisions between them were erected.

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Byzantium and Islam Exhibition Blog

Letters and Letter Writing

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

Posted: Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The exhibition contains a number of letters that reveal the movement and flow of ideas throughout the territories of the Byzantine empire, including Egypt.

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Byzantium and Islam Exhibition Blog

Saint Catherine's Monastery, Sinai

Stephanie Georgiadis, Intern, Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters

Posted: Monday, April 9, 2012

Saint Catherine's Monastery—officially "Sacred and Imperial Monastery of the God-Trodden Mount of Sinai"—located in the Sinai Peninsula, is one of the oldest functioning Christian monasteries. Constructed in the sixth century under the orders of Justinian I (r. 527–565), it was built in the spot where, according to Christian belief, the angels brought the body of Saint Catherine of Alexandria after her execution.

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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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About this Blog

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