The Museum's collection of ancient Near Eastern art includes more than seven thousand works ranging in date from the eighth millennium B.C. through the centuries just beyond the time of the Arab conquests of the seventh century A.D. Objects come from a vast region centered in Mesopotamia, between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, and extending north to the Caucasus and the Eurasian steppes and south to the Arabian peninsula. To the west the region includes Anatolia, Syria, and the Levant, bordered by the Mediterranean; to the east, it extends through Iran and western Central Asia, with connections as far as the Indus River Valley.
Posted: Wednesday, December 16, 2015
This past October, The Met hosted a conference in Istanbul with Columbia University and Koç University about the crucial issues around cultural heritage preservation in Syria and Iraq. The gathering allowed us to convene key participants from both countries who would not otherwise have been able to get a visa to attend such a meeting in the United States. These participants shared their firsthand accounts of the challenging situations under which they are currently working as they try to salvage the heritage of their countries.
Posted: Wednesday, September 25, 2013
The situation in Syria is both grave and deeply troubling. In the midst of such striking human suffering, all other concerns can easily get lost in the shadows. But we must believe that there will be a time when peace returns to Syria, and when that moment arrives, it would be tragic to find that most of the country's heritage had been lost.
Posted: Monday, July 29, 2013
I am Cyrus, king of the universe, the great king, the powerful king, king of Babylon, king of Sumer and Akkad, king of the four quarters of the world.
—The Cyrus Cylinder (Line 20)
Posted: Friday, July 19, 2013
Toward the end of the first century a.d. Jerusalem lay in ruins, the second temple built by Herod the Great (74/73–4 b.c.) destroyed and ransacked by the Roman army. Meanwhile, in Babylon, scribes continued to copy ancient texts, inscribing some of them on cuneiform tablets made of clay. After the last cuneiform scribe passed to his fate, no one remained who could read or write documents in Babylonian, Assyrian, or Sumerian. In 1893, pioneer archaeologists and explorers digging in Iraq began to uncover vast archives of cuneiform tablets that had been buried for two thousand years. Today, philologists, archaeologists, and historians are able to combine narratives previously known only from the Bible with information gleaned from thousands of historic, literary, religious, and scientific texts, illuminating the world of Nebuchadnezzar, Sennacherib, and Cyrus. The Cyrus Cylinder, now on view at the Met, helps us understand the peoples and policies of the ancient Near East.
Posted: Monday, June 24, 2013
The Cyrus Cylinder, currently on display in the exhibition The Cyrus Cylinder and Ancient Persia: Charting a New Empire (June 20–August 4, 2013), is a document of unique historical significance. It records the Persian king Cyrus' conquest of the city of Babylon in 539 b.c., and his proclamation that cults and temples should be restored, their personnel allowed to return from Babylon to their home cities.
Posted: Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Although I am an Egyptologist, I recently worked for two years in the Museum's Department of Ancient Near Eastern Art as the 2009–2011 Hagop Kevorkian Curatorial Fellow. The experience was invaluable, not only for its curatorial training, but also for the opportunity to approach my dissertation topic—ancient Egyptian ostraca—from a cross-disciplinary perspective.
Posted: Tuesday, May 31, 2011
At the recent American Association of Museums annual conference, the Metropolitan Museum won two awards for online projects.
Posted: Wednesday, August 11, 2010
The Museum's Members just received their Summer Bulletin, which details the archaeological excavations in the ancient Near East that have been supported by the Metropolitan from 1931 to 2010. It reminds me that many people don't realize that the Met has been involved in the study of antiquity since the Museum's founding in 1870 (the Met's Egyptian Expedition began in 1906 and continued with extraordinary success for thirty years).
Posted: Friday, July 9, 2010
Each year, the Met holds four meetings at which curators present works of art to a special committee of Trustees for possible purchase by the Museum. It is a thoughtful and rigorous process, and it is always a thrill to see the acquired objects when they finally arrive in our galleries. This past year's purchases included four exquisite works of sculpture spanning from the ancient world to the mid-eighteenth century.