From 1956 to 1965, Princeton University, the University of Michigan, and the University of Alexandria carried out a series of expeditions to the remote Monastery of Saint Catherine at Mount Sinai—the oldest continuously inhabited Christian monastery in the world, with a history that can be traced back over seventeen centuries. The documentation collected by these joint expeditions, under the direction of Princeton’s Professor Kurt Weitzmann (pictured below left) and Professor George Forsyth (below, right) of the University of Michigan, continues to have profound ramifications for Byzantine studies.
The Visual Resources Collection at Princeton University holds a key archive for the study of Byzantine icons, namely, the color photographs of the collection of icons owned by the Monastery of Saint Catherine at Mount Sinai taken during these expeditions. This rich body of material stretches from Late Antiquity until the modern era and encompasses the history of the icon. The collection is unique in that it documents, in color, the condition of these icons after the cleaning and restoration carried out in the 1950s and 1960s. Photography of the expedition was under the direction of Fred Anderegg, head of photographic services at the University of Michigan. The VRC has digitized and catalogued the collection of several thousand color images (5 × 7 inch color Ektachrome transparencies and 35mm slides) of icons in the Monastery of Saint Catherine made by the joint expeditions. This project was funded by a David A. Gardner '69 Magic Grant from the Princeton University Council on the Humanities.
Currently, this website displays about 1,200 transparencies. We will be adding about 2,000 images and revised data. The online images are limited to a size of 1024 pixels.
The inputting and correcting of data for these images is ongoing. Additionally, as images and data are added, the website content will be expanded. We welcome any constructive scholarly contributions to the data and invite you to submit comments through our 'Contact Us' page.
Images of Weitzmann and Forsyth courtesy of the Princeton-Michigan Sinai Archive