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The Museum of the Ancient Near East ranks alongside the Louvre and the British Museum as one of the world's leading museums of ancient oriental treasures. Shown in an area covering 2,000 square metres the exhibits convey an impression of six thousand years of history, culture and art in the ancient Near East.
Fourteen rooms are devoted to this collection in the southern wing of the Pergamon Museum. The collection contains many important examples of architecture, reliefs and smaller objects. Some are of great world significance and were once excavated by German archaeologists. They originate from the Sumerian, Babylonian, Assyrian and northern Syrian/eastern Anatolian regions which today include Iraq, Syria, and Turkey.
Finds from Uruk offer insights into the beginnings of writing during the fourth millenium BC as well as into Sumerian art and culture. Clay tablets and seals provide evidence of the early use of writing throughout the whole of the ancient Near Eastern region.
One of the major attractions lies along the main axis of this section of the museum. Here visitors can walk through and wonder at the world-famous reconstructions of brilliantly coloured Babylonian monuments: the Processional Way, the Ishtar Gate and the facade of the throne hall of King Nebuchadnezzar II (604 - 562 BC). Sections of the buildings were re-created to approximately the original dimensions by meticulously re-assembling the many broken pieces of excavated glazed bricks. Along the walls depictions of lions, bulls and dragons symbolize the major gods of Babylon.
The main attractions in the Babylonian Hall include the model of the Tower of Babel which was dedicated to Marduk, the chief god of the city, and a copy of the famous stela bearing the laws of King Hammurabi.
Other outstanding works of ancient Near Eastern monumental architecture of the third and second millenium BC include reconstructed sections of temple facades from Uruk. One of the facades is decorated with coloured clay inlays while the other is characterized by its stunning brickwork reliefs.
The Assyrian palace reliefs from Kalchu, the one-time capital city, date from the ninth millenium BC. The entrance to the reconstructed Neo-Assyrian palace hall is dominated by replicas of the colossal gatekeeping statues of mythical beasts. The artistic and crafting skills of the Assyrians during the first and second century BC are illustrated by vases, jewellery, tools, clay and stone reliefs, tiles and small sculptures made from a variety of materials.