March 2, 2015

Threshold to the Sacred: The Ark Door of Cairo's Ben Ezra Synagogue

Amy Landau, Ph.D.
Walters Art Museum, Baltimore

Wednesdasy, April 15, 2015
5:00pm
Breasted Hall, Oriental Institute
1155 Eas 58th Street, Chicago, IL

This presentation is based on a work of exceptional historical importance jointly owned by the Walters Art Museum and the Yeshiva University Museum, and currently exhibited in the Oriental Institute Museum special exhibit A Cosmopolitan City: Muslims, Christians, and Jews in Old Cairo. This intricately decorated and inscribed wood panel from a Torah ark, a special cupboard that holds the sacred Jewish scripture, is believed to come from the Ben Ezra synagogue of Old Cairo (Fustat), Egypt, a place which has captivated public imagination for over a century. It is the site of the 19th-century discovery of the Cairo Geniza, a treasure trove of documents on medieval Jewish life around the Mediterranean. The talk will draw upon Geniza documents, photographs of the Ben Ezra synagogue, and works of Islamic and Jewish art, together with conservation-science research, to relate the fascinating history of the Torah ark door.  

Amy Landau is Associate Curator of Islamic and South Asian Art at the Walters Art Museum. Her work explores shifts in the visual culture of early modern Iran, with particular emphasis on interaction between Safavid Persia and Europe and the Armenian merchant community of New Julfa.

This lecture is part of a series of lectures on medieval Cairo presented by the Oriental Institute and the Chicago Center for Jewish Studies in conjunction with the special exhibit A Cosmopolitan City: Muslims, Christians, and Jews in Old Cairo at the Oriental Institute Museum.

This lecture series is jointly presented by the Oriental Institute and the Chicago Center For Jewish Studies of the University of Chicago.  The series is generously supported by the Chicago Center for Jewish Studies, the Franke Institute for the Humanities, the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, and the Divinity School of the University of Chicago.

Free:  No pre-registration Required

Followed by light refreshments in the Oriental Institute Museum
For more details visit our Event Calendar