July 19th, 2009 01:50 am (UTC)
Re: Toronto Exhibition
Do you mind if I ask about your handicap? Why do you think it would prevent you from going?
It started off with a history of the region, going through all the different invasions and what influence each group had on the native population. It contrasted traditional Jewish beliefs and practices with all the imports. I learned the that shekel was actually a Phonecian coin, and it was valued for its silver content in spite of the graven images on it. Something I can see, from this group's icon, that you all already knew, but for me it was a delight to discover.
From there, the exhibit starts to cover Qumram itself (the lights have been getting darker all this time). I saw videos on the different theories for the site, models of the ruins with the caves, and artifacts from the ruins themselves, everything from broken pottery to cloth. I had known next to nothing about the Qumram controversy before this, so it was an eye opener for me. I still don't know what I believe about the inhabitants of that site.
Finally, I got to a very dark, very dry room. When I went there were eight fragments on display: Genesis, Psalms, Daniel, Barkhi Napshi - Apocryphal Psalms, Book of War, Messianic Apocalypse, Papyrus Bar Kokhba 44 (a lease agreement), and Damascus Covenant. Each had its own free-standing structure which told some history of the particular fragment and gave a translation. Then I got to peer into a window and see, dimly, the fragment itself. They were beautiful. Some were more damaged than others, but all of them gave me that frisson that comes from witnessing the impossibly old and rare. The display of the apocryphal psalms even featured a recording of a women singing completed sections in the original tongue.
Probably the funniest part, for me, was the realization that the most complete section there was the lease agreement. It figures, you know? But that was cool for its own reasons, because you could see the style of writing change when the leaser gave his signature.
This is not the greatest description, but that's only because I'm not sure what parts you want to hear about. Please let me know if you'd like me to elaborate on any particular thing.