Panel from a Torah ark door

Date: Eleventh century, with later carving and paint
Location or Findspot (Modern-Day Country): Egypt
Medium: Wood
Dimensions: 87.3 x 36.7 x 2.5 cm
Description: These doors from the Torah ark (shrine for the Torah scrolls) of the Ben Ezra synagogue in Fustat (Old Cairo) are among the few surviving artifacts from Jewish synagogue art of the Middle Ages. Their carved ornament shares features in common with the contemporary woodwork of local mosques and churches. They are inscribed with quotations from the Psalms that are fitting for a pair of doors, specifically referring to opening the gates of righteousness. There are traces of paint and gold leaf on the wood, indicating that these doors were once luxurious and colorful. The famous Cairo Genizah ("depository" or "hiding place"), an enormous collection of medieval Hebrew, Aramaic, and Judeo-Arabic fragments, was located in the attic of this same synagogue.
Relevant Textbook Chapter(s): 6

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