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Monday, July 21, 2014

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Exhibition commemorates Sinai expeditions

An exhibition titled "The Monastery of St. Catherine at Mount Sinai," is on view through Friday, July 28, in the first floor lounge of the Department of Art and Archaeology in McCormick Hall.

The exhibition of 24 photographs was organized to commemorate Kurt Weitzmann (1904-93) and the Princeton-Michigan expeditions to Mount Sinai. Weitzmann, a professor of art and archaeology at Princeton from 1945 to 1972, and his colleague George Howard Forsyth Jr., a member of Princeton's class of 1923 and a professor at the University of Michigan, organized a series of expeditions between 1956 and 1965 to Egypt, with the aim of studying the Monastery of St. Catherine and its treasures.

The monastery, which dates to 548-65, is thought by some Biblical scholars to be the location of the "burning bush" where Moses first encountered God. The well-preserved church is decorated with some of the finest sixth-century mosaics. Constructed of local stone, the church also incorporates other building materials, such as wood and marble, which were imported from afar with great difficulty.

The exhibition includes a selection of images from Weitzman's collection that provides insights into various aspects of the monastery, its environment, its history, its architecture and its perception by early travelers. Some of the photographs are more than a century old and reveal the conditions within the monastery complex that have changed significantly over time.

The photographs, some of which were taken by Weitzman when he was at the monastery, are preserved in the Research Photograph Collection of the Department of Art and Archaeology. The exhibition was conceived in conjunction with a graduate seminar titled "Juncture of Heaven and Earth: The Monastery of St. Catherine on Mount Sinai" taught this spring by Slobodan Ćurčić, professor of art and archaeology. It was organized and designed by Ćurčić and Shari Kenfield, curator of the Research Photograph Collection.

Hours for the exhibition are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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