Precious Christian Artifacts from Submerged Cathedral Spotlighted at The Met’s ‘Africa & Byzantium

Precious Christian Artifacts from Submerged Cathedral Spotlighted at The Met’s ‘Africa & Byzantium

Ancient Nubian Cathedral’s Submergence in Nile

In a recent revelation by Achi to CNA, the ancient Nubian Cathedral of Faras, submerged in the Nile River, holds significant historical artworks. Among them is a captivating wall painting portraying Nubian Bishop Petros protected by St. Peter, reflecting a rich Christian culture.

Threats to Historic Religious Artworks

Numerous pieces, including Gospel books, icons, and various artifacts depicting religious figures and stories, attest to the deeply rooted Christian heritage in northern Africa. However, ongoing civil unrest in Sudan poses a severe threat to these ancient religious artworks, putting their preservation at risk.

Surviving Christian Art Amidst Changing Faith Dynamics

Despite Islam’s dominance in the region from the eighth century, distinct Christian artistic traditions continued to thrive in African kingdoms. Notably, a 15th-century panel painting featuring the Blessed Mother nursing the Christ Child highlights the enduring Christian artistic culture in medieval northern Africa.

Enduring Influence of Byzantine Art

Even after the fall of the Byzantine Empire, Ethiopian and Coptic artists in eastern Africa drew inspiration from Roman and Byzantine art, shaping the artistic landscape until the 20th century.

Achi emphasizes that the impact of Christian Byzantium on Africa extended globally, leaving an indelible mark on artistic expression.

The Met’s “Africa & Byzantium” Exhibition

The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s special exhibit, “Africa & Byzantium,” showcases intricately decorated ancient North African Gospel books and iconic artworks. Director Max Hollein emphasizes the exhibition’s goal to offer a broader understanding of the Byzantine world and early African Christian civilizations’ vital role in shaping cultural spheres.

Promoting Global Perspectives

Max Hollein stresses the exhibition’s significance in challenging established perceptions. He highlights how this groundbreaking showcase, incorporating art, religion, history, and archaeology, reevaluates Africa’s pivotal position within global networks of trade and cultural exchange, offering a more comprehensive global history.

How to Experience the Exhibition

The “Africa & Byzantium” exhibition at The Met, running from November 2023 to March 2024, invites audiences to explore and appreciate the historical significance of African Christian art. Further details on accessing the exhibit are available for interested individuals.

Peter Pinedo, a CNA DC Correspondent, provides insights into this captivating narrative, shedding light on the intricate connection between ancient Christian art and its enduring legacy.