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Jerusalem of (Fool's) Gold

The Met’s presentation of Jerusalem as a vibrant trade hub and cultural melting pot is seductive, but false.


Response
Feb. 13 2017
About the author

Robert Irwin, a British novelist and scholar of medieval Islam, is the Middle East editor of the Times Literary Supplement. His most recent novel is Wonders Will Never Cease.


Edward Rothstein opens his essay on the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s exhibition, Jerusalem 1000-1400: Every People Under Heaven, with a well-deserved tribute to the gorgeousness of the objects on display and the splendidly illustrated catalogue. He then goes on to query whether the exhibition and catalogue really reflect the political, economic, artistic, and religious realities of medieval Jerusalem. Having read the catalogue and Rothstein’s criticisms of it, I am in broad agreement with him, and I found his analysis more interesting and more persuasive than the catalogue’s Pollyannaish presentation of medieval realities.

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More about: Arts & Culture, History & Ideas, Jerusalem, Religion & Holidays