Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Dura-Europos at NYU

On Saturday, the ladies and I went to see the exhibit of artifacts from Dura-Europos at NYU's Institute for the Study of the Ancient World. It was a small exhibit by NYC museum standards, but holy hell, what a collection.

The usual assortment of inscriptions and reliefs are either your thing or they're not. They happen to be my thing, but I expect anybody could be impressed with the state of preservation of some of them. Up close, the "Relief of the Goddess Atargatis, or Tyche, with Doves" looks like it was carved last year. There was also a selection of organic artifacts (wooden signs and textiles, mostly, but also a child's shoe), which always impresses the heck out of me in collections from antiquity. They had a little collection of coins--a handful of drachmae and a sestertius--which were recovered from the remains of a Roman soldier killed in the fight for the mine under the city's walls; I believe these were the coins that helped date the fall of the city. There was a Sator square, which I've never before seen in person, and a long-gone bride's engagement ring.

The most individually significant objects--one given particular pride of place in the exhibit and one not--were a brilliantly painted iconic Roman body shield (the only one known to have survived from antiquity), and the earliest verifiable image of Jesus.

Fantastic exhibit. Absolutely worth the trip into the City.

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