Thanks to its collection of outstanding artefacts spanning 6000 years of the cultural history of Mesopotamia and neighbouring regions, the Vorderasiatisches Museum (Museum of the Ancient Near East) occupies a special position in the world as one of the most important scholarly institutions dedicated to the ancient Near-Eastern civilizations.
There is no other major museum of its kind in the German-speaking world and, in terms of archaeological importance, its ranks alongside the Musée du Louvre in Paris, the British Museum in London, and the various major museums in the 'source' countries (Iraq, Syria, and Turkey).
It primarily sees itself as a museum of cultural history, as it presents its collection of approximately 250,000 objects in their cultural (as opposed to purely artistic) context. Most of its collection is derived from the division of finds pursuant to archaeological excavation agreements drawn up with the source countries as part of the major German-led digs of the late 19th and early 20th century. These objects, always studied from the perspective of how they relate to the rest of the find, are remarkable because of the region from where they originate. Dubbed the ‘cradle of civilization’ it had clear, manifold, and lasting influences on the Christian Western world. Further enriched by holdings of objects from Palestine, Asia Minor, Urartu, West Iran, Palmyra, and the kingdoms of ancient South Arabia (Yemen), the Vorderasiatisches Museum represents a unique archive of the material culture of the ancient Near East in its entirety, with Mesopotamia as the historical and cultural focus.
In addition to this, the Vorderasiatisches Museum plays a significant role in the cultural memory of humankind, acting as the custodian not only of the material cultural heritage, but also the intangible cultural heritage of the ancient Near East. The collection of over 25,000 inscriptions forms an important area of research in this regard. The Vorderasiatisches Museum is instrumental in unravelling the secrets of this history of knowledge and is actively involved in international philological research.
Since the early 1990s, the museum’s cuneiform collection containing more than 30,000 clay tablets has been the predominant focus of German and international research. Numerous digitization and cataloguing endeavours continue to bring scholars to Berlin from all over the world. The year 2013 marks the launch of a new project: BABylo-tec. Its aim is to make a complete digitalized recording of the cuneiform documents from Babylon that are currently preserved at the Vorderasiatisches Museum and to present the material on a scholarly database. This endeavour will be followed in 2015/16 by another cataloguing project that will make the texts themselves available online, readable for the first time ever with great numbers in translation. The project will place particular emphasis on the texts’ historical context.
The Vorderasiatisches Museum presents its unique objects at the Pergamonmuseum on the Museumsinsel Berlin.
Click here for addresses, opening times, admission prices, and public transport links.
For queries surrounding your visit, please contact the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin infoline:
Tel.: +49 (0)30 / 266424242 (Mon - Fri 9 am - 4 pm)
Fax: +49 (0)30 / 266422290
Tel.: +49 (0)30 / 266425601
Fax: +49 (0)30 / 266425602
Director: Prof. Dr. Hilgert
Deputy Director: Dr. Lutz Martin a.i.