On a rainy day back in Berlin, we went to the Pergamon Museum in Berlin.  I learned something right as I walked in – that German archeologists had been just as busy raiding the middle east for treasures as their British and French counterparts at the end of the 19th century and early 20th century.  The amazing thing is that rather than bring back a sarcophagus or tablet or two – they brought back entire STRUCTURES.  It was crazy.

The Pergamon Altar is from the 2nd century BC and consists of stairs and colonnades reconstructed from originals excavated in Greece.  I tried to capture it in photos, but it was so darn HUGE that it was pretty hard to do.  Crazy.

The other was the Ishtar Gate – 50 feet tall and more than twice as long, the cobalt blue gate was reconstructed as it was imagined to be from excavations in Bablyon.  Again pictures do little justice, nor do the pictures trying to capture the Processional Way.

Finally, we stopped — almost as an afterthought – to the Gallery of Islamic Art which is housed in the museum.  Talk about an eye-opener.

At a time when Europe languished in the Dark and Middle Ages, Islamic artists were creating works of incredibly delicacy and beauty (not to mention inventing algebra and pushing forward astronomy).  What an unexpected treat to see such works.  Good job, Pergamon!

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5 thoughts on “Antiquities

  1. That is really impressive. It's funny — I don't visit many museums here (although I love the Museum of Natural History in NYC, the Smithsonian, etc.) but if/when I ever get to Europe, I plan on visiting as many as I can.

  2. Incredible. I think of all the hard work it must have taken to build those structures originally, and then all the effort to tear down, transport, and reassemble (if in some cases, that's what they did) these things.

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