Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Dawn of Egyptian Art

I walked through the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York with some friends yesterday. We visited the Ancient Near Eastern Art and the Egyptian collections.

The Met has a special exhibit of Pre-Dynastic and Early Dynastic Egyptian Art on display until August 5. The exhibit includes artifacts from museum collections all over the world. Photography is not permitted in this exhibit, so I cannot share any photos with you.

The exhibit is small, but has some wonderful pieces. Several famous slate palettes are on display as well as Pre-Dynastic pottery, jewelry, ivory hair pins and combs, etc.

Also, a number of objects from the Met's Egyptian collection have been removed from their cases and are not on display at this time. It is not just a few pieces, it is a fair number of them. One that I particularly missed is a small gold statue of the god Amen which dates to the Twenty-First Dynasty (if I remember the dating correctly).

All in all, a fun day visiting one of my favorite places with a few friends.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Sasanian Empire

The Sasanians (third to seventh century A. D.) considered themselves to be the heirs of the Achaemenid (Persian) kings that had been defeated by Alexander the Great.

Copyright 2012 by John Freed
A man who became known as Ardashir I founded the Sasanian Dynasty in about 226 A. D. In his later years, he took his son (Shapur I) as a co-regent. In 240, the Sasanians conquered Hatra (about 100 km southwest if Nineveh).

Shapur I eventually pushed into Syria where he fought against the Roman Emperor Valerian.  A meeting was arranged between Valerian and Shapur, but Valerian was betrayed and remained a prisoner of Shapur’s for the rest of his life.

The fortunes of the Sasanians rose and fell over time, with victories and defeats at the hands of the Romans and, later, the Byzantine Empire. The last Sasanian King (Yazdegerd III) died in 651 after being defeated by the moslems.

The photograph in this article is a smaller than life-size mask of one of the Sasanian kings (Shapur II?) made from a single sheet of silver. The mask is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.