From Peter Brown’s review of the Met’s “Byzantium and Islam: Age of Transition (7th-9th Century),” at The New York Review of Books:

The exhibition takes us to the heart of this great detonation. It embraces the last century of the pre-Islamic Middle East and the first two centuries of Islam. To our surprise, we do not find ourselves in a world swept by a mighty wind. Instead, we enter a series of quiet rooms where time seems to stand still. Like a perfect late fall day, only the occasional rustle of a falling leaf startles us into realizing that the seasons are about to change. The few clear signs that Islam had, indeed, become politically dominant in the Middle East by the end of the seventh century strike us with almost ominous intensity. For there are so few of them.