Museums are the glory of a nation. A trip to Europe, for example, would hardly seem worth the effort to many people were it not for the great museums to visit. (And no doubt many a vacation was turned into a grueling ordeal because there were too many museums and cathedrals on the itinerary!) With a view to helping our readers organize their museum-going, our BAR 15:05 and 15:06 issues listed North American institutions with important holdings in the art and archaeology of the ancient Near East, Egypt and the Mediterranean world. We now turn our sights to more distant shores and begin with descriptions of museums in and around the Mediterranean area and in Jordan with collections of interest to our readers. Museums elsewhere in Europe and the Middle East will be included in future issues.
Cyprus is a crossroad of Mediterranean history. Its major museum spans the Neolithic period to the seventh century A.D. in fourteen rooms of exhibits. One highlight is the Lambousa jewelry treasure from the sixth-seventh centuries A.D. Several regional museums on Cyprus also display important finds. The Limassol District Museum contains objects from the Chalcolithic period to the 14th century A.D. (the city also has a museum housed in a medieval castle that covers the fourth through 19th centuries); the Larnaca District Museum has items from the Neolithic period to the 15th century A.D.; the Paphos District Museum includes items from the Chalcolithic period to the medieval period; the Kourion Site Museum features finds excavated at this ancient site dating from the Middle Bronze Age to the seventh century A.D.; and the Palaepaphos Site Museum displays items from the Chalcolithic period to the 15th century A.D.
National Archaeological Museum
1, Tositsa Street
On view are magnificent examples of ancient Greek art and artifacts from the Neolithic period to Roman times, organized into several collections. The Prehistoric collection includes pre-Mycenaean, Mycenaean and Cycladic objects, as well as frescoes from Santorini (the Aegean island that was destroyed by a massive volcano eruption about the middle of the second millennium B.C.). The sculpture collection has Archaic and Classical works in stone and bronze, while the vase collection features works from the Geometric, Archaic and Classical periods. Lastly, the Stathatos collection contains jewelry from the Archaic period to the Byzantine period.
Jordan Archaeological Museum
Department of Antiquities
P.O. Box 88
Located on the site of Jebel Qal’a (Biblical Rabath Ammon and Roman Philadelphia), the museum’s holdings span 8,000 years and include what may he the world’s earliest statue, from Jericho (dated to he tween 6000 and 4000 B.C.). Other items of note are pottery, wall paintings and a child’s burial urn from Chalcolithic-period (4500–3000 B.C.) Telleilat Ghassul, in the Jordan Valley; bronze daggers from an Early Bronze 061Age tomb at Jericho; and the Copper Dead Sea Scroll, a listing of buried treasure. Also of interest are a reproduction of a Middle Bronze Age Jericho tomb and a room devoted to the Nabateans, a culture that flourished between the sixth century B.C. and 106 A.D.
Anadolu Medenyitleri Muzesi (Museum of Anatolian Civilizations)
Located in a restored Ottoman covered market built in 1471 and an adjoining warehouse, the museum’s holdings include stone and bone tools from the Paleolithic Age (before 8000 B.C.); goddess figurines, stamp seals, baked clay pottery and hone agricultural tools from the Neolithic Age (8000–5500 B.C.); copper implements from the Chalcolithic Period (5500–3000 B.C.); and cast and hammered bronze utensils and royal tomb items from the Early Bronze Age (3000–1950 B.C.). Especially fascinating are Hittite (1750–1200 B.C.) artifacts, including bull-shaped vessels, baked-clay pottery, clay tablets from state archives and stamp seals with royal names. The collections also encompass post-Hittite eras, down to the Byzantine period.
Arkeoloji Muzesi (Archaeological Museum)
Osman Hamdi Yokusa
Part of a complex of three museums near the famed Topkapi Museum and the Hagia Sophia Church, the Archaeological Museum houses a vast collection of statues, sarcophagi, mosaics, coins and jewelry. In the same complex is the Eski Sark Eserler Muzesi, or Museum of the Ancient Orient, which contains Egyptian, Assyrian and Hittite artifacts. Here, if you ask, you may see the original Siloam Inscription from Hezekiah’s water tunnel in Jerusalem.
Izmir (ancient Smyrna) was founded on the eastern shore of the Aegean in about 3000 B.C. Holdings span the years from 5000 B.C. to the 14th century A.D. and include statues, busts, mosaics and votive statuettes. One hall is devoted to burial customs and features a tomb from about 3000 B.C. with the skeleton of a man in the fetal position, terra-cotta and marble sarcophagi, and grave stones.