Profile of the Vorderasiatische Museum

In the Vorderasiatisches Museum (Museum of the Ancient Near East) visitors have the chance to take in one of the wonders of the ancient world: the gorgeously coloured Ishtar Gate and the Babylonian Processional Way. The Vorderasiatisches Museum offers museum-goers a first-hand experience with the reconstruction of these iconic architectural structures from the ancient city of Babylon, along with a host of other artefacts that illustrate the cultures of the ancient Near East.

The ancient cities of Mesopotamia had long since fallen into ruin and were virtually forgotten when German archaeologists began excavations in Babylon, Assur, Uruk and at other sites in the former Ottoman Empire in the 19th century. The finds were divided up among the participants in the digs and the respective antiquities authorities. Thanks to the meticulous documentation made on site, back in Berlin the architectural monuments and artworks were able to be reconstructed through laborious restoration work, and they are now on display to the public in the museum.

Today, the Vorderasiatisches Museum is home to one of the most significant collections of Near East antiquities in the world. Highlights of the collection include the victory stele of the Assyrian King Esarhaddon, unearthed in 1888 in Zincirli in what is now southeast Turkey, along with the shimmering white praying figure from the Ishtar Temple in Assur, or the finely cut cylinder seals from Assur, Uruk and Babylon. Among the collection’s 30,000 cuneiform tablets there are fragments of literary texts as well as legal documents. 

The objects in the collection bear witness to 6,000 years of art and culture in Mesopotamia, Syria and Anatolia. They are displayed in the Pergamonmuseum, where along with the the Antikensammlung and the Museum für Islamische Kunst, the Vorderasiatiches Museum tells of the rich history of the Near East and the influence these civilisations had on the cultures of Classical Antiquity and the Islamic cultures that succeeded them.