Africa and Byzantium is a sumptuous exhibition, essential for the scholar of late antique religion and culture, bringing together artifacts from Nubian excavations, Tunisian museums, Cairo’s Coptic Museum, and the vital icon collection in St. Catherine’s Monastery; important materials from the British Museum, Cleveland Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art itself; and manuscripts and papyri from Yale and the Morgan Library.

The show proceeds through three sections: “Africa in Late Antiquity,” which explores Egyptian, Nubian, and North African Christian cultures through about the seventh century; “Bright as the Sun: Africa after Byzantium,” which focuses especially on Nubian, Egyptian, and Ethiopian wall paintings, icons, illuminated manuscripts, and other artifacts through about the sixteenth century; and “Legacies and Reflections,” on the continuing post-Byzantine productions in Ethiopia to the present day (and in the last room, contemporary Ethiopian art that draws on traditional motifs and materials).

As someone who tends to focus...

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