From March 14-July 8, 2012, the Metropolitan Museum of Art is hosting a special exhibition, “Byzantium and Islam: Age of Transition.” The exhibition has a strong online presence, including an extraordinary video of the Red Monastery, one of the best-preserved examples of Late Antique church architecture, especially noted for its vibrantly colored paintings. These had been largely covered under a dark outer layer for centuries, but since 2000 have been cleaned and studied by an international team of conservators and scholars, directed by the art historian Elizabeth S. Bolman of Temple University, who narrates this video, presenting a walk-through of the inner sanctuary, explaining how it reflects both Late-Antique aesthetics and monastic culture:
The Red Monastery Project is administered by the American Research Center in Egypt, in collaboration with the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities and the Coptic Orthodox Church, with funding provided by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Directors of Conservation: Adriano Luzi †, Luigi De Cesaris †, Alberto Sucato, Emiliano Ricchi. I have worked as the epigraphist for the project since 2003, and have marveled at the transformation of this ancient monument, which has become a popular destination for both Egyptians and tourists. While the video doesn’t replace an actual trip to Sohag, it is highly informative and a pleasure to watch.