Just over a year ago, the Metropolitan Museum of Art purchased one of the most important Jewish manuscripts to survive medieval Spain. This 14th-century Spanish Bible from the Castile region is one of only three surviving decorated Hebrew Bibles from the region. Its uniqueness is in the beauty of the manuscript, with its clean margins and uniform penmanship, complex micrographical patterns, illuminated initial panels and intricate designs on its opening carpet pages.
Kipp Davis on the treasures of Qumran
First fetch me the lamp.
And then you shall have your reward . . .
. . . Your eternal reward.”
Any child of the 1980s or ‘90s or self respecting Disney animated film buff will recognize the “Cave of Wonders” as the fabled treasure cave in the 1992 blockbuster hit Aladdin. The film was a loose adaptation of folk tales in Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. The Cave was the secret horde of treasure belonging to a bloodthirsty band of thieves that was unwittingly uncovered by a poor woodcutter named Ali Baba. The story of Ali Baba and his wealthy brother Cassim is in part a moral tale about greed, and this theme is also reflected in the film: At one point of the movie the protagonist is provided entry along with his boon companion—a monkey named Abu—into the Cave, but is then restricted from even touching any of the limitless treasure within. Unable to quell his own greed Abu breaks this prohibition and he and Aladdin are consequently swallowed by the magic cave.
The coin is believed to have been minted between the third and fourth year of the Bar Kokhba revolt (136-134 CE).
The Vatican Secret Archives is one of the grandest historical collections in the world. It’s also one of the most useless.
The grandeur is obvious. Located within the Vatican’s walls, next door to the Apostolic Library and just north of the Sistine Chapel, the VSA houses 53 linear miles of shelving dating back more than 12 centuries. It includes gems like thepapal bull that excommunicated Martin Luther and the pleas for help that Mary Queen of Scots sent to Pope Sixtus V before her execution. In size and scope, the collection is almost peerless.
“Experts are using crowdsourced images and 3D printing technology in an ambitious project to recreate ancient artifacts destroyed by Islamic State in the Iraqi city of Mosul....
Last month ISIS released a video that showed militants using sledgehammers and drills to destroy artifacts in the Mosul Museum, the latest in a string of wanton attacks on sites of historic and religious importance. Project Mosul, part of the European Union-funded Initial Training Network for Digital Cultural Heritage, is calling on volunteers to help restore the museum’s devastated artifacts.”
Note: To see an interactive 3D image of the Mosul lion, see middle of article.
“Advanced imaging technology originally developed for NASA has revealed previously unnoticed writing on fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Israel Antiquities Authority revealed on Tuesday. Moreover, one of the newly discerned and deciphered passages, written in early Hebrew, hints at the existence of a scroll never found and still unknown to researchers.”
“[T]he cultural property of many indigenous peoples of the Middle East is in grave danger, and the West is actively participating in the permanent theft and loss of this property from its original, legal owners. The most notable example of this is the Iraqi Jewish Archive, a collection of books and rare documents that a U.S. Army team found in the basement of Saddam Hussein’s intelligence headquarters in May 2003.”