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Release: Immediate

'Holy Places' featured in UI School of Religion photographic exhibit

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Some places were built as holy monuments. Others are holy because of their historical significance. Still other places become holy when people gather there for special ceremonies or rituals. Some places are considered holy by a single group of religious people while others are holy places for the people of many of the world's religions.

A new photographic exhibit at the University of Iowa School of Religion seeks to identify some of the holy places around the world and demonstrate the similarities and differences among places considered holy by various groups of people. The exhibit, "Holy Places: A Comparative View," is on display through July 1, 1999 on the third floor of Gilmore Hall on the UI campus. It is free and open to the public from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. In addition, a series of public lectures on Sunday afternoons in October will offer more detailed information and background about some of the holy places around the world.

George Nickelsburg, professor of religion, and Allen Roberts, professor of anthropology, collaborated on this project to create a display that includes American Indian, Buddhist, Canaanite, Christian, Dogon, Druid, ancient Egyptian, ancient Greek, Hindu, Islamic, Mayan, Mormon, and Muslim holy places.

The photographs are grouped not according to religion, but under subheadings such as "Structuring Space," "Space and Text," "Into the Earth," and "Toward the Heavens." For example, the section titled "Toward the Heavens" includes the towering structures of the Great Temple of Amun in Karnak, Egypt; the minaret of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey; a spire of the Mormon Temple in San Diego, California; and the Cathedral Tower in Ulm, Germany.

"We hope the exhibit will help people imagine themselves into the diverse venues and expressions of human religion as it is experienced in many traditions around the world," Nickelsburg said.

He added that combining the resources and expertise of the religion and anthropology departments has given the exhibit more depth than it would have had as an effort of just one department. "I've been delighted to collaborate with professor Roberts and the department of anthropology to enrich the character and scope of the exhibition," Nickelsburg said.

Accompanying the exhibit will be a Sunday afternoon lecture series throughout the month of October. The presentations will highlight several different places around the world that are considered holy by those who celebrate a variety of religious traditions. All lectures will be from 2-4 p.m. and are free and open to the public.

Following is a schedule of the lectures:

Oct. 11: "Mount Hermon: Where Heaven and the Underworld Meet," by George Nickelsburg, third floor Gilmore Hall.

Oct. 18: "From Urluru to Bear Butte: Indigenous Concerns About Sacred Sites and Traditional Cultural Properties," by Larry J. Zimmerman, director of the UI American Indian and Native Studies Program and professor of anthropology, Room 106 Gilmore Hall.

Oct. 25: "Islam in Africa: A Contemporary Sufi Movement in Senegal," by Allen Roberts, Room 106 Gilmore Hall.

For more information, contact the UI School of Religion at (319) 335-2164 or send an email to Nickelsburg at