Friday, September 23, 2011

Edge of Empires exhibit opens today at NYU Institute for the Study of the Ancient World

The exhibit Edge of Empires opens today at the NYU Institute for the Study of the Ancient World. It focuses on Dura-Europos. Here's a review from the NY Observer emphasizing Christian images from a baptistery in what is thought to be a Christian house-church. More when I can see the exhibit!


The New Testament scenes were found in what is believed to be the oldest-known baptistery, which was part of a Christian “house-church” (a house that was used as a church). Dura’s house-church is considered the oldest such structure ever revealed. The Institute is showing three of the baptistery’s original wall paintings. From the city’s synagogue come 10 ceiling tiles, each elaborately painted with astrological signs, pine cones, fruit and faces; they’re being shown together for the first time. Then there are the various beliefs lumped together under the rubric “pagan,” and numerous structures were found in Dura dedicated to Greek, Roman and local gods. Some of the pagan imagery seen at the Institute is itself a blend of different pagan strains.
Not only did Christians, Jews and pagans worship side by side—the Temple of Aphrodite was located across the street from the synagogue—but the city was also inhabited by distinct populations of Greeks, Romans, Arabs and Persians. And they all apparently coexisted in harmony.

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