Exquisite exhibit: Jerusalem 1000-1400 – a look at one of history’s great crossroads

For Muslims, Jerusalem is the place of the Prophet Mohammed’s night journey and ascension to heaven, the site of first qibla and the third holiest mosque in Sunni Islam. For Jews it is the location of the Biblical King Solomon’s temple, while for Christians it is the place where Jesus was crucified and then rose from the dead.

A celestial city whose history – a tale of faith and fanaticism, culture and conflict, persecution, prejudice, betrayal and hate – stretches from the Canaanites and Israelites through to the current struggle between the Palestinians and Israelis, has most often been written in stone, suffering and blood.

Thanks to a major exhibition which opens at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York this week however, the usual narratives surrounding the holy city look set to change.

Jerusalem 1000-1400: Every People Under Heaven

identifies the holy city not just as a medieval metropolis but as one of history’s great crossroads and entrepôts, as much a source of knowledge and inspiration as art and beauty, which exerted a fascination and influence from Iceland to India.

Describing the Jerusalem of the Fatimids, Crusaders and Mamluks as a “city of foreigners” in which Persians and Turks, Greeks, Syrians and Armenians, Georgians, Ethiopians, Indians and Europeans lived side-by-side, the show features about 200 works sourced from collections worldwide, including loans from religious communities inside the city that are travelling for the first time, to illustrate its extraordinary diversity and creativity.

Jerusalem 1000-1400: Every People Under Heaven runs from September 26 to January 8, 2017, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. For more information, visit www.metmuseum.org

Published: September 21, 2016 04:00 AM