The Dura Europos Project

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Images of Ben-Gurion and Ahmadinejad Update Ancient Frescoes,”

By Aubrey Whelan Jan. 18, 2011

King David is a smiling child in a red T-shirt and corduroys. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad fills in for Haman. David Ben-Gurion is leading Holocaust survivors across the Red Sea.

That’s the aim of the Dura Europos Project, on view at the Philadelphia Museum of Jewish Art until March 27 — to present a decidedly modern take on the oldest known examples of Jewish artwork.

Discovered in 1920 in a synagogue in the ancient Roman town of Dura, the Dura Europos frescoes date to 245 C.E. and depict scenes from the Tanach — everything from the story of Esther to Ezekiel’s vision of dry bones.

The project, curated by Joel Silverstein and Richard McBee, features paintings created specifically for the exhibit by members of New York’s Jewish Art Salon, based on portions of the frescoes.

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