Anyone who follows the news will be aware that the sacred book of Islam is the Qur’an (known to Muslims as the Noble Qur’an), or, as it was named for centuries in English, the Koran. The militants of al-Qaeda and ISIS proclaim their allegiance to this fundamental text of their …
by Emmanuel Carrère, translated from the French by John Lambert
The current French intellectual scene has produced few such prolific and prodigiously talented personalities as Emmanuel Carrère. He has directed a film, La Moustache (2005), based on his novel of the same name, with a Hitchcockian though oddly inconclusive plot about a man whose sanity is called into question when …
What is to be done about the Republican Party? Sixty years ago it was the party of Dwight Eisenhower and a dynamic suburban middle class putting an end at last to the long reign of the New Deal Democrats. This summer it became the pathetic captive of Donald Trump, a television performer professing to speak for a discontented and sullen middle class.
The Good Book of Human Nature: An Evolutionary Reading of the Bible
by Carel van Schaik and Kai Michel
The Mediterranean World: From the Fall of Rome to the Rise of Napoleon
by Monique O’Connell and Eric R. Dursteler
For a Dutch professor of biological anthropology in Zurich, Carel van Schaik, to join forces with a German journalist, Kai Michel, to offer “an evolutionary reading” of the Bible took more than courage. It required a wholesale rethinking of that immense text as nothing less than “humanity’s diary, chronicling both …
The fall of the ancient city of Palmyra before the brutal forces of ISIS last week raises the terrifying prospect of damage that could potentially eclipse the recent destruction at Mosul, Nimrud, and Hatra in Iraq. The tragedy of all this is the calculated disregard of a tradition of Palmyrene achievements that really means something to the Arab world.
It’s not easy to make sense of the remarkable Lod Mosaic, a large, ancient floor newly discovered in Israel and now on display in the United States for the first time at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. But the very difficulty of interpretation, together with the excellent state of preservation, is what makes it so fascinating. We simply don’t know whether it was part of a residence or an official building, and we can’t even say whether the owner or owners were Jewish, Christian, or pagan. The date is not secure either, although the excavator proposes about AD 300 because late third-and-fourth-century coins and ceramic scraps were found immediately above it. Miraculously, what is on display at the Met survived intact apart from one large gash near the bottom that the excavator considers ancient damage, although not everyone agrees.
The mosaic at the Met is the main part of an ensemble of floor mosaics that the Israeli Antiquities Authority uncovered in 1996 at Lod (ancient Lydda) during the construction of a road between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Measuring some twenty-three and a half feet by thirteen feet, the mosaic consists of a large square containing a central octagonal medallion, with narrow rectangular panels above and below the square.