The American Research Center in Eygpt

EXCURSION: The Red and White Monasteries, Sohag - Art, Architecture and Conservation

EXCURSION: The Red and White Monasteries, Sohag - Art, Architecture and Conservation

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EXCURSION: The Red and White Monasteries, Sohag - Art, Architecture and Conservation
Lecturer: Dr. Elizabeth S. Bolman
December 17 - 18, 2010

The Red and White Monasteries outside of Sohag include two of the best preserved churches from late antique Egypt. These two sites, formally known as the Monastery of St. Bishoi and the Monastery of St. Shenoute, acquired their colloquial names from the building materials used in the two monumental churches. The so-called White Monastery church is built principally of white limestone, some of it reused from a pharaonic building. The Red Monastery church is a somewhat smaller copy of the White Monastery church, but constructed in now faded reddish brick. Within both late antique churches important sculpture and paintings have survived, dating between the fifth and fourteenth centuries. Archaeological remains from the ancient monasteries still exist around the churches.

Of particular interest are the paintings in the Red Monastery. These are located in the original sanctuary of the church, a flamboyant late Roman architectural delight. The paintings include high-quality figural subjects, and also elaborate patterns. The abstract paintings cover all of the architectural sculpture in the sanctuary, and are the best example of painted architecture surviving from the classical and late antique worlds. Powerful figural paintings also adorn the sanctuary, narrating aspects of Christian belief and monastic lineage.

A conservation project is currently underway in the Red Monastery to clean and conserve the wall paintings. This project is being administered by the Egyptian Antiquities Conservation Project of the American Research Center in Egypt, with funding from the United States Agency for International Development. All work is being undertaken in collaboration with the Supreme Council of Antiquities, and with the full support of the Coptic Church. The conservation of the Red Monastery sanctuary is nearing its end, and the tour will be able to see the majority of the paintings cleaned.

As part of this trip, participants will visit the Red Monastery church while the conservation work is taking place.  Results of a preliminary campaign of conservation are also visible in the White Monastery church. Elizabeth Bolman, a specialist in Coptic art and director of the wall painting conservation project, will lecture on both the Red and White Monastery churches.

Departure to Sohag will be by bus and the return by flight from Assiut.

Price per person sharing double:

ARCE Member: LE800 + LE300 airfare (subject to change)
Non-member: LE900 + LE300 airfare (subject to change
Single supplement: LE50

For more information and to sign up call Mary Sadek at ARCE.
Tel: 2794 8239 / 2795 8683
E-mail: programs@arce.org

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