NEW YORK, November 21 ― Mosaics, paintings, jewelry, ceramics, manuscripts from the 4th to 15th centuries: the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York exhibits 200 ancient and medieval works that reflect a thousand years of influence of the Byzantine Empire on communities Christians from Egypt, Tunisia and Ethiopia.
One of the richest museums in the world, the museum has brought together gem collections from Africa, Asia and Europe for an exhibition titled “Africa and Byzantium”, which opened on Sunday and will continue until ‘next March.
The Met this week presented a preview to a few journalists of its partners, the Egyptian and Tunisian governments and the oldest Coptic Orthodox monastery in the world, Saint Catherine of Sinai in Egypt.
Bringing together artistic, religious, literary and archaeological treasures, “Africa & Byzantium” shows the impact of the Byzantine Empire from its capital Constantinople – formerly Byzantium and today called Istanbul – on Christianity, which spread throughout the Horn of Africa from the 4th to the 7th centuries.
According to Met CEO Max Hollein, the exhibition “brings a new focus and scholarship to an understudied field, expanding our knowledge of Byzantine and early Christian art in an expanded worldview.”
Visitors will see painted manuscripts, textiles, marble mosaics, carved ivories from Nubia, gold jewelry from Egypt, wall paintings – many appearing for the first time in the United States.
The pieces explore connections between cultural and multi-faith communities from the Mediterranean to the Red Sea, blending Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Christian and Jewish traditions, the Met said.
Tunisian Minister of Cultural Affairs Hayet Guettat Guermazi told AFP that these pieces show the world “the rich cultural heritage of her country, the result of a mixture of different civilizations that occupied the Mediterranean” as well as a “local African foundation”.
Archbishop Damianos of Saint Catherine of Sinai praised the exhibition, saying it “offers us the opportunity to recall the universality of Byzantium, which is a proposition of freedom, unity, of reconciliation, respect and peace, the peace that we so desperately need in our world today. -ETX Studio