Africa and Byzantium

Achi, Andrea Myers, with contributions by Moèz Achour, Suzanne Conklin Akbari, Michelle Al-Ferzly, Roger S. Bagnall, Vince L. Bantu, Fathi Bejaoui, Nejib Ben Lazreg, Deniz Beyazit, Elizabeth S. Bolman, Claire Bosc-Tiessé, Stephanie Caruso, Silvia A. Centeno, Kathrin Colburn, Emilia Cortes, Stephen J. Davis, Marie-Laure Derat, Sarah F. Derbew, Eyob Derillo, Helen C. Evans, Mary K. Farag, Ariel J. Fein, Helina Gebremedhen, Jacopo Gnisci, Father Abate Gobena, Pratima Gopalakrishnan, Emmanuel Iduma, Liz James, Hieromonk Justin of Sinai, Jessica L. Lamont, Jacqueline Lombard, Faouzi Mahfoudh, Dorothy Mahon, Tsedaye Makonnen, Annissa Malvoisin, C. Griffith Mann, Irene Soto Marén, Sigrid Mirabaud, Sailakshmi Ramgopal, Naila Razzaq, Giovanni R. Ruffini, Aleksandra Sulikowska-Bełczowska, Thelma K. Thomas, Kristen Windmuller-Luna, Arielle Winnik, and Felege-Selam Yirga. (2023)

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Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History (11)
Africa and Byzantium
November 19, 2023–March 3, 2024

Art history has long emphasized the glories of the Byzantine Empire (circa 330–1453), but less known are the profound artistic contributions of North Africa, Egypt, Nubia, Ethiopia, and other powerful African kingdoms whose pivotal interactions with Byzantium had a lasting impact on the Mediterranean world. Bringing together a range of masterworks—from mosaic, sculpture, pottery, and metalwork to luxury objects, paintings, and religious manuscripts—this exhibition recounts Africa’s central role in international networks of trade and cultural exchange. With artworks rarely or never before seen in public, Africa & Byzantium sheds new light on the staggering artistic achievements of medieval Africa. This long-overdue exhibition highlights how the continent contributed to the development of the premodern world and offers a more complete history of the vibrant multiethnic societies of north and east Africa that shaped the artistic, economic, and cultural life of Byzantium and beyond.