Site photos, maps, and comparative illustrations add to the reader's understanding of a land whose great intellectual power continues to shape the world of today. Here the Holy Land's somber and joyous history is told within an especially suitable manner. The early inhabitants talk through their works of art—those things, typically modest in size but always regal in spirit, created to worship the divine, to propitiate spirits that are malevolent, to commemorate the deceased, to please the living. The history of the area can be read in the foreign aesthetic impacts that changed and improved a powerful style that is native. The look of Egyptian, Assyrian, Persian, Greek, Roman, and Byzantine components suggests the ethnic, sociological, and political changes, violent and slow sometimes. The artwork works discussed here tell of public movements that formed the Near East, battles, and the wonderful occasions, but significant, they embody the spiritual biography of a people whose religious doctrine became the foundation of Western civilization. In the Holy Land a quest for the divine has been clear over many millennia. A yearning for the lovely animates the typical works and the most transcendent. The same numinous spirit breathes in the distinguished Shrine of the Stelae and oil lamps, in the shapely cups, and bowls that Jerusalemites used some two thousand years past. Regular family items make our ancestors look our near-contemporaries, but the chasm that divides us from yesteryear is emphasized by other works. The outstanding items of the Judaean Desert Treasure, for instance, have a touching and great beauty, but their significance remains a deep mystery. Several inscriptions, some of extraordinary sophistication of them, remind us of how profoundly the consciousness of this land was shaped by the written language of early Hebrew. It's therefore fitting that Gems of the Holy Land ends with a discussion of the most historical of biblical manuscripts, the Dead Sea Scrolls. Possibly the greatest archaeological discovery of this century, these scrolls experienced an enormous impact on comprehension and the study of Christianity and early Judaism. This publication records the watershed exhibit organized by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Ny, and the Israel Museum, Jerusalem. The works of art, most of which are exhibited for the very first time in the New World, are living messengers from a productive and early culture; they talk to us.