The Prussian Cultural Heritage trustees have given their unanimous approval to Dr. Markus Hilgert, a professor of ancient Near-Eastern studies, being appointed as new director of the Vorderasiatisches Museum (Museum of the Ancient Near East) at the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. He will take over from Professor Dr. Beate Salje, who is set to retire at the end of February 2014.
Markus Hilgert has been a professor of Assyriology at Heidelberg University since 2007, his specialism is Sumerology. He is also the Designated Director of the HCCH (Heidelberg Center for Cultural Heritage) at Heidelberg University, which boasts an important archaeological collection. He is furthermore a Corresponding Member of the German Archaeological Institute and, since 2009, has been Scientific Director of its Uruk-Warka Collection, held at the University of Heidelberg. In addition, Hilgert is a member of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts and head of the German Oriental Society.
Markus Hilgert studied ancient Near Eastern studies, Near Eastern archaeology, Semitic studies, and comparative religious studies at the Philipps-University of Marburg, the Ludwig-Maximilians University of Munich, and the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, from 1990 to 1996. In 1999, he received his doctorate with the thesis 'Akkadian in the Third Dynasty of Ur'. In 2004, he habilitated at the Friedrich-Schiller-University in Jena, where he had already worked as an assistant. His scholarly work has garnered Hilgert numerous prizes, awards, and scholarships. He has served as guest professor and replacement professor at universities in Chicago, Leipzig, Moscow, and Freiburg. Thanks to these engagements at foreign institutions and the numerous interdisciplinary research projects he has worked on, he is also extremely well connected in academic circles.
Hilgert played a major role in planning the current exhibition 'Uruk - 5000 Years of the Megacity' (on show at the Pergamonmuseum, Museumsinsel Berlin, until 8 September 2013). He envisages the museum as a place to communicate and disseminate the latest research findings and a place for interdisciplinary collaboration. For him, the core tasks of today's museum are the study and care of its rich collections and the digital cataloguing and scientific analysis of its objects. One of the greatest challenges during his tenure will be to sustain public interest in the Vorderasiatisches Museum during the period of necessary construction work and refurbishment of the Pergamonmuseum (2019 to 2025/26) and to devise the new collection display. To this help achieve these goals, the museum's new director envisages the use of new digital media as a communication tool.