Ariel Fein will deliver a Brown Bag Lunch presentation on Monday, February 21, at 12:15 pm. Her talk is entitled “Fatimid Wood Networks: Production, Consumption, Circulation.”

Although a rare local resource, from the Predynastic periods through the Ottoman era, wood constituted a prized material in Egypt for decoration. The Fatimids (909-1171) transformed the art of woodcarving, adorning the interiors of their mosques, palaces, churches, and synagogues with delicately carved figural scenes and intricate foliate motifs and geometric patterns. Today, the fragmentary remains of this vibrant tradition of wood decoration are dispersed internationally across museum collections as well as in situ in the extant monuments of Fatimid Egypt. As a result of their often-unclear archaeological origins, and in the absence of written sources and epigraphic evidence, the provenance and function of these works remains enigmatic. Combining art historical and technical investigation, this talk explores the ways in which wood was conceived and consumed in Fatimid Egypt.


Ariel Fein is a research fellow at BGC this spring. She received her PhD in Byzantine and Islamic art history from Yale University. Her scholarship explores the intersection of Christian and Islamic visual cultures, in particular the circulation of objects, peoples, and ideas across the frontier zones of the medieval Mediterranean. She is currently working on two projects. Her book project, Emir of Emirs: George of Antioch and the Shaping of Norman Visual Culture, examines the complex multi-visual culture of Norman Palermo, and in particular the Arab-Christian built environment, through the life and patronage of grand vizier George of Antioch. A second project, Fatimid Wood Networks: Circulation, Production, and Consumption, considers how Fatimid objects were conceived, perceived, and experienced in Egypt and the Maghreb. Other research interests include the arts of medieval Arab-Christians, identity negotiation and cultural memory in the post-Byzantine diaspora, and Jewish ceremonial art and architecture, with a particular focus on the Jewish communities of the nineteenth- and twentieth-century Middle East. She held the 2020–21 Jane and Morgan Whitney Fellowship in the Islamic Art Department at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and is the 2020–21 recipient of the Frances Blanshard Dissertation Prize from the History of Art Department at Yale University.


This event will be held via Zoom. A link will be circulated to registrants by 10 am on the day of the event. This event will be live with automatic captions.