A series of essays examines this land’s rich complexity from prehistory through the Islamic conquest of A.D. 640, and nearly two hundred works of art are discussed in texts that explore their ethnic, historical, religious, and aesthetic importance. Site photos, maps, and comparative illustrations add to the reader’s grasp of a land whose great intellectual power continues to determine today’s world. Click Here For holylandwebstore website
Here the Holy Land’s somber and joyous history is told in an especially suitable manner. The ancient inhabitants speak through their works of art—those things, generally modest in size but always regal in spirit, created to worship the divine, to propitiate spirits that are malevolent, to commemorate the deceased, to delight the living. The area’s history can be read in the foreign aesthetic impacts that modified and improved a style that is native that is powerful. The appearance of Egyptian, Assyrian, Persian, Greek, Roman, and Byzantine components signals the cultural, sociological, and political changes, violent at others, that shaped the Holy Land and gradual at times. The artwork works discussed here tell of struggles, the wonderful occasions, and public movements that formed the Near East, but, as important, they embody the spiritual biography of a people whose religious doctrine became the foundation of Western civilization.
In the Holy Land a quest for the divine has been clear over many millennia. This religious impulse is as palpable in the gold plaque of a Canaanite goddess from the thirteenth century B.C. as in the synagogue mosaic from Beth Shean which was fashioned in the sixth century A.D. Many things express a deep love of the natural world: necklaces of glowing carnelian beads that mimic lotus seeds; a chubby but ferocious ivory lion; a mosaic pavement with fish. A yearning for the lovely animates the most transcendent and the works that are ordinary. The same numinous spirit breathes from Hazor in the distinguished Shrine of the Stelae and oil lamps, in the shapely cups, and bowls that Jerusalemites used some two thousand years ago. Regular household objects make our ancestors appear our near-contemporaries, but other works highlight the chasm that separates us from yesteryear and the past. The amazing things of the Judaean Desert Treasure, for example, have a great and touching beauty, but their significance remains a deep mystery.
A number of inscriptions, some of extraordinary elegance, remind us of how profoundly the consciousness of this land was shaped by the written language of ancient Hebrew. It truly is so fitting that Gems of the Holy Land ends with a discussion of the most ancient of biblical manuscripts, the Dead Sea Scrolls. Possibly the greatest archaeological discovery of this century, these scrolls experienced an immense impact on the study and understanding of early Judaism and Christianity. This publication records the landmark exhibition organized by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and the Israel Museum, Jerusalem. The works of art, most of which are displayed for the first time in the New World, are living messengers from a historical and abundant civilization; they talk to us.