Biblical Archaeology Review 12:6, November/December 1986

Ancient Israelite Art Sparse in Impressive Show at Met

By Hershel Shanks

“Treasures of the Holy Land,” the Israel Museum’s exhibition of nearly 200 outstanding pieces, is being shown at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art through January 4, 1987. The exhibit is the largest and most important display of ancient art from Israel ever to travel abroad. Many of these world-famous artifacts have never before been seen in this country. Paradoxically, hardly a piece in this impressive and often stunning collection can positively be identified as Israelite art! This show is subtitled “Ancient Art from the Israel Museum,” and the pieces come from the Land of Israel—Eretz Israel. But the art is not Israelite.

Many of the most impressive artifacts pre-date the Israelites. The oldest object in the show is an animal head carved from bone about 12,000 years ago. The Israelites—or Hebrews—did not arrive on the scene until about 3,500 years ago.

From seventh-millennium Jericho comes a delicately carved, almost lifesize head of a statue; its staring eyes veil feelings and thoughts as they gaze at us across the millennia.

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