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Oriental JewelleryThe Golden HordeThe CaucasusCentral AsiaThailandJapanChinaMongolia and TibetIndiaIslamic Art of the Countries of the Near EastSassanian IranByzantiumAncient EgyptThe Middle East

A remarkable collection of cuneiform inscriptions, reliefs, pieces of small statuary and applied art represent the culture of the Sumerians, founders of a civilization between the rivers Tigris and Euphrates; their successors, the Akkadians and Babylonians, who created the powerful Assyrian Empire; and the peoples of the ancient Mediterranean.

The earliest items come from the late 4th to early 3rd millenium BC. A group of painted pottery found in a necropolis at the settlement of Susa demonstrates the skill of craftsmen from Elam, home of the earliest civilization on the territory of Iran. A stone tablet with a pictographic inscription (late 4th to early 3rd millenium BC) from the Sumerian town of Uruk is regarded as one of the most ancient written documents, while important material on the history of the ancient Sumerian and Akkadian civilizations is provided by a number of pieces such as the cuneiform archive of a temple of the Sumerian goddess Bau at Lagash (28th-23rd centuries BC); documents associated with the 3rd dynasty of Gudea (c. 11th century BC); and economic documents for the town of Ur during the 3rd dynasty (11th-10th centuries BC).

Babylonian domination of the area between the Tigris and the Euphrates is also illustrated by cuneiform materials: an informative selection of economic documents, promissory notes and materials associated with school education.

A vast collection of carved stones of the 4th to 2nd millenium BC traces the development of the fine arts in Asia Minor; zoomorphic bronzes from Luristan (2nd millenium BC) reveal the features peculiar to contemporary Iranian fine art; small groups of items represent the culture of New Babylon, Iran under the Achaemenids, Phoenicia and the Hittite state in Asia Minor. There are Assyrian reliefs from the residences of the rulers Ashurnasirpal II (9th century BC), Sargon II, Tiglath-Pileser III, Sinakherib (late 8th-7th centuries BC) - typical examples of Assyrian imperial art, intended to glorify the power and might of the cruel Assyrian rulers and to immortalize their victories over enemies.

Items from Palmyra – a large trading center which existed in the Syrian desert before 273 - includes a group of portrait burial reliefs in the unique Palmyran style, which combines features of Oriental and Graeco-Roman cultures. The most important information about the city's life is provided by the famous ‘Palmyrian Tariff', a marble slab with a text in Aramaic and Greek expounding a law issued on April 18th, 137 AD, concerning the levying of duty on goods imported into Palmyra.

If you enjoyed this collection, you might want to also visit the other collections at the State Hermitage Museum.

Oriental Coins

Document Consisting of Ideograms
Late 4th-early 3rd millenium BC
Full description

883-859 BC
Full description

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