Sam'al (Zincirli Höyük) was founded at least as far back as the Early Bronze Age. It was largely abandoned during the Hittite and Mittani periods then flourished again in the Iron Age, initially under Luwian speaking Neo-Hittites, and by the 920 BC BC had become a kingdom. In the 9th and 8th century BC it came under control of the Neo-Assyrian Empire and by the 7th century BC it had become a directly ruled Assyrian province. It is located in the Anti-Taurus Mountains of modern Turkey's Gaziantep Province.

Archeological site of Sam'al
Sam'al is located in Turkey
Shown within Turkey
LocationZincirli Höyük, Gaziantep Province, Turkey
Coordinates37°06′13″N 36°40′43″E / 37.10361°N 36.67861°ECoordinates: 37°06′13″N 36°40′43″E / 37.10361°N 36.67861°E
Site notes
ConditionIn ruins


Historical map of the Neo-Hittite states, c. 800 BC, showing the location of Sam'al at modern Zincirli (3).

The site of Sam'al was occupied in the Early Bronze Age, and is thought to be part of the kingdom of Yamhad (Aleppo) early in the second millennium. It was then abandoned but later rose again in the Iron Age, eventually becoming a kingdom. With the rise of the Neo-Assyrian Empire, Sam'al became a vassal state and later a province of that empire.

Kingdom of Sam'al

Kingdom of Sam'al

1200 BC–609 BC
Common languagesHittite
• Established
1200 BC
• Disestablished
609 BC
Preceded by
Succeeded by

Kingdom of Sam'al (in Aramaic Ya'udi) was a middle power of the Middle-East in the first half of the 1st millennium BCE. It was near the Nur Mountains. Sam'al was the capital of the country. Royal steles and stone tablets from the period, of Kilamuva and Panamuva II, are the main sources for historical data about this timeperiod.

King Barrekub prays in front of divine symbols. Detail of a stele from Sam'al. 8th century BC. Museum of the Ancient Orient, Istanbul
King Barrekub prays in front of divine symbols. Detail of a stele from Sam'al. 8th century BC. Museum of the Ancient Orient, Istanbul

It became a middle power at the end of the 10th century BCE. It had expanded from being a city state and gained territories from Carchemish, around Adana from Quwê and remained independent. It didn't become part of Cilicia. In 859 BC Alimus was saved with the help of Hayyanu, king of Sam'al. He didn't participate in the Battle of Qarqar in 853 BC, but Assyria had been blocked in the Western area. Though the campaign of Assyria in 825 BC occupied the vital territories of Sam'al, Quwê had been defeated, but it had been reorganised as Denyen. After the death of Shalmaneser III, Ya'udi again became independent.

Some rulers of Sam'al had aggressive expansionist politics; others acceded to one of the anti-Assyrian Syrian coalition. Assyrian sources are not clear regarding Sam'al. Ya'udi was one of Assyria's satellite states in the annals of Shalmaneser III. Though around 830 BC Azitawadda, king of Denyen, states Ya'udi is his satellite country – at the same time, Kilamuwa mentions on his stela that he hired Assyria against Denyen. Other sources from the same period mention Ya'udi as a satellite state of Denyen and Assyria wanted to occupy this territory. Kilamuva might offer for Deyen to be a satellite state. Before this, he should defeat his greatest foe, Azitawadda. Assyrians won over Denyen and Sam'al in 825 BC. Sam'al became independent after the death of Shalmaneser III.

There is an alternative opinion which states that Ya'udi and Sam'al were originally separate royal houses and Sam'al, the younger of the two, fought against the Assyrians at Alimus in 859 BC, in 858 BC when Shalmanser III crossed the Euphrates for the first time, and again in 853 BC at the Battle of Qarqar. The Kingdom of Sam'al was founded by Hayyanu and his successor was Ahabbu of Siri'laya (Zincirli) in 854 BC. Whereas Gabar, the founder of Ya'udi, and his successors became a member of the Assyrian satellites. This makes clear why Shalmaneser III lists Ya'udi (Bit-Gabbari) but not Sam'al as a satellite state. The Kingdom of Ya'udi wanted to open a corridor between Assyria and Denyen. It was prevented by the unified Syrian forces. This unity had been dissolved in 825 BC. After the death of Shalmanezer III Denyen couldn't occupy it but the Samalians could. Sam'al annexed Ya'udi and moved into the palace of Kilamuva.

At the end, in 717 BC, Assyria occupied the country under the rule of Sargon II.


Pergamonmuseum - Vorderasiatisches Museum 046
Inscription of Prince Kilamuwa of Samal, Pergamon Museum

The site was excavated in 1888, 1890, 1891, 1894 and 1902 during expeditions led by Felix von Luschan and Robert Koldewey.[1][2][3][4][5] Each of the expeditions was supported by the German Orient Committee, except for the fourth (1894), which was financed with monies from the Rudolf-Virchow-Stiftung and private donors.[6]

They found a heavily fortified teardrop-shaped citadel, which was surrounded by the as yet unexcavated town and a further enormous double fortification wall with three gates and 100 bastions. Among the notable objects found at the site are five giant statues of lions carved from stone, which apparently had guarded the gates of the city, but may have been ritually buried together within the citadel. The German excavations on the citadel recovered large numbers of relief-carved orthostats, along with inscriptions in Aramaic, Phoenician, and Akkadian. These are on exhibit in the Pergamon Museum, Berlin, and Istanbul. Also found was the notable Victory stele of Esarhaddon celebrating his victory over Taharqa. The field diaries of the excavation were lost during World War II.

In August 2006, the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago began a new long-term excavation project at the site of Zincirli under the directorship of David Schloen. Seven seasons of excavation have been conducted through 2012.[7] [8]


Three royal inscriptions from Ya'udi or Sam'al are particularly informative for the history of the area. The earliest is from the reign of King Panammu I, the others later at 730 BCE. The dialectical peculiarities of these royal inscriptions from Sam'al (Ya'udi) have led to some scholars including P.-E. Dion.[9] and S. Moscati[10] advancing "Samalian" or "Ya'udic" as a distinct variety of Old Aramaic.[11][12][13]

The stele of Kuttamuwa

Lion Zincirli
A lion of Sam'al, now in the Pergamon Museum

Kuttamuwa was an 8th-century BC royal official from Sam'al who ordered an inscribed stele, that was to be erected upon his death. The inscription requested that his mourners commemorate his life and his afterlife with feasts "for my soul that is in this stele." It is one of the earliest references in a Near East culture to a soul as a separate entity from the body. The 800-pound basalt stele is three feet tall and two feet wide.[14]


  1. ^ Felix von Luschan et al, Ausgrabungen in Sendschirli. vol. 1: Einleitung und Inschriften, Spemann, 1893
  2. ^ Felix von Luschan and Carl Humann and Robert Koldewey, Ausgrabungen in Sendschirli. vol. 2: Ausgrabungsbericht und Architektur, Spemann, 1898
  3. ^ Felix von Luschan, Ausgrabungen in Sendschirli. vol. 3: Thorsculpturen, Georg Reimer, 1902
  4. ^ Felix von Luschan and Gustav Jacoby, Ausgrabungen in Sendschirli. vol. 4: Georg Reimer, 1911
  5. ^ Felix von Luschan and Walter Andrae, Ausgrabungen in Sendschirli. vol. 5: Die Kleinfunde von Sendschirli, Walter de Gruyter, 1943
  6. ^ Felix von Luschan, "Ueber einige Ergebnisse der fünften Expedition nach Sendschirli," Zeitschrift für Ethnologie 34 (1902): 379–80.
  7. ^ J. David Schloen and Amir S. Fink, New Excavations at Zincirli Höyük in Turkey (Ancient Sam'al) and the Discovery of an Inscribed Mortuary Stele, Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, vol. 356, pp. 1-13, November 2009
  8. ^ [1] Schloen, J David; Fink, Amir S., SEARCHING FOR ANCIENT SAM'AL: NEW EXCAVATIONS AT ZINCIRLI IN TURKEY, Near Eastern Archaeology, Vol. 72, Iss. 4, pp. 203-219, 2009
  9. ^ P.-E. Dion, La langue de Ya'udi (Waterloo, Ontario 1974), in: RSO 53 (1979)
  10. ^ Moscati 1964, S.—: An Introduction to the Comparative Grammar of the Semitic Languages, Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden.
  11. ^ Klaus Beyer The Aramaic Language, Its Distribution and Subdivisions 1986- Page 12 3525535732 "In addition the three "Ya'udic" royal inscriptions from Zinjirli in northern Syria (c. 825, 750, 730 B.C.) witness to early Ancient Aramaic: KAl 25, 214, 215; TSSI -, 13, 14; J.Friedrich, Phoni- zisch-punische Grammatik, Rome 1951, 153-162; ..."
  12. ^ Angel Sáenz-Badillos, John Elwolde A History of the Hebrew Language 1996 0521556341 Page 35 "According to some scholars, after 1400 BCE the languages which would later develop into Ya'udic and Aramaic...."
  13. ^ Joseph A. Fitzmyer A Wandering Armenian: Collected Aramaic Essays 1979 - Page 68 080284846X "This is partly because he refuses to see Ugaritic as Canaanite and partly because he prefers to treat so-called Ya^udic as distinct from Aramaic — if I understand him correctly.89 "
  14. ^ "Found: An Ancient Monument to the Soul". New York Times. November 17, 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-18. In a mountainous kingdom in what is now southeastern Turkey, there lived in the 8th century BC. a royal official, Kuttamuwa, who oversaw the completion of an inscribed stone monument, or stele, to be erected upon his death. The words instructed mourners to commemorate his life and afterlife with feasts "for my soul that is in this stele."

See also


  • Simon B. Parker (1996). "Appeals for military intervention: stories from Zinjirli and the Bible". The Biblical Archaeologist 59(4): 213-224.
  • Ussishkin, David (1970). "The Syro-Hittite ritual burial of monuments". Journal of Near Eastern Studies 29(2): 124-128.
  • Ralf-B Wartke, Sam'al: Ein aramäischer Stadtstaat des 10. bis 8. Jhs. v. Chr. und die Geschichte seiner Erforschung, Philipp von Zabern, 2005
  • J. P. Francev, ed. (1967). Világtörténet tíz kötetben, I. kötet (in Hungarian). Kossuth K.
  • U. Bahadir. Alkim, The Road from Samal to Asitawandawa: Contributions to the Historical Geography of the Amanus Region, Anadolu Arastirmalari, vol. 2, pp. 3–41, 1965
  • Dennis Pardee, A New Aramaic Inscription from Zincirli, Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, vol. 356, pp. 51–71, 2009
  • David Schloen, J. and Amir S. Fink, Searching for Ancient Samal: New Excavations at Zincirli in Turkey, Near Eastern Archaeology, vol. 72/4, pp. 203–219, 2009
  • Eudora J. Struble and Virginia Rimmer Herrmann, An Eternal Feast at Sam?al: The New Iron Age Mortuary Stele from Zincirli in Context, Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, vol. 356, pp. 15–49, 2009
  • VR Herrmann, Urban organization under empire: Iron Age Sam’al (Zincirli, Turkey) from royal to provincial capital, Levant, vol. 49 (3), pp. 284–311, 2017

External links

1882 in archaeology

The year 1882 in archaeology involved some significant events.


The Arameans (Aramaic: ܐܪ̈ܡܝܐ‎, ʼaramáyé, Arabic: آراميون‎), also known as Syriacs, were an ancient Northwest Semitic Aramaic-speaking tribal confederation who emerged from the region known as Aram (in present-day Syria) in the Late Bronze Age (11th to 8th centuries BC). They established a patchwork of independent Aramaic kingdoms in the Levant and seized tracts of Anatolia as well as briefly conquering Babylonia.

The Arameans never formed a unified state but had small independent kingdoms across parts of the Near East, (present-day Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, Palestinian territories, the northwestern Arabian peninsula and south-central Turkey). Their political influence was confined to a number of states such as Aram Damascus, Hamath, Palmyra, Aleppo and the partly Aramean Syro-Hittite states, which were entirely absorbed into the Neo-Assyrian Empire (935-605 BC) by the 9th century BC. In the Neo-Assyrian Empire, the Aramaeans, Chaldeans, Suteans and indigenous Assyrians-Babylonians became largely indistinguishable, as these groups were culturally and ethnically absorbed into the native populace of Mesopotamia.By contrast, Imperial Aramaic came to be the lingua franca of the entire Near East and Asia Minor after King Tiglath-Pileser III of Assyria (ruled 745–727 BC) made it one of two official languages of the vast Neo-Assyrian Empire (the other being Akkadian) in the mid-8th century BC, in recognition of the mostly-Aramean speaking population in areas Assyria had conquered west of the Euphrates and the large numbers of Arameans in Mesopotamia. This empire stretched from Cyprus and the East Mediterranean in the west to Persia and Elam in the east, and from Armenia and the Caucasus in the north to Egypt, Libya and Arabia in the south. The Achaemenid Empire (c. 550–330 BC) greatly spread Imperial Aramaic: north to the coast of the Black Sea and eastward to the Indus Valley. This version of Aramaic, influenced by Akkadian and later by Old Persian, later developed into the Syriac dialect of Edessa.

Between the 1st and 4th centuries AD, the Arameans began to adopt Christianity in place of the polytheist Aramean religion, and the Levant became an important centre of Syriac Christianity, along with Assyria to the east from where the Syriac language and Syriac script emerged.

Use of the Western Aramaic language has steadily declined in the face of Arabic since the Islamic conquest of the area in the 7th century AD, and the last vestiges of the spoken tongue in and around Maalula are in danger of extinction, although Assyrian population maintain spoken dialects of Akkadian influenced Neo-Aramaic as well as Syriac as a liturgical language. Similarly, some Jewish communities and the Mandean people also retain dialects of Aramaic. Today, an Aramean identity is mainly held by a small number of largely Arabic-speaking Syriac Christians in south-central Turkey, in Syria, and in the Aramean diaspora overseas. In 2014, Israel recognized the Aramean minority, an Arabic- and Aramaic-speaking Christian community.


Benhadad, Ben Hadad, Ben-hadad (in the Jewish Publication Society of America Version) or Benadad (in the Douay–Rheims Bible) (Hebrew: בֶּן-הֲדַד‎, Son of Hadad; Latin: Benadad), may refer to:

Any king of Aram-Damascus. Hadad was the name of the senior Aramean deity.

Particular kings of Aram-Damascus:

Ben-Hadad I, king of Aram Damascus between 885 BCE and 865 BCE

Hadadezer (Ben-Hadad II), king of Aram Damascus at the time of the battle of Qarqar against the Assyrian king Shalmaneser III in 853 BCE. Also known as Adad-Idri (Assyr.) and possibly the same as Bar-Hadad II (Aram.); Ben-Hadad II (Heb.).

Ben-Hadad III, king of Aram Damascus. His succession is mentioned in II Kings 13:3, 24. He is thought to have ruled from 796 BCE to 792 BCE, although there are many conflicting opinions among Biblical archaeologists as to the length of his reign.

Bit Agusi

Bit Agusi or Bit Agushi (also written Bet Agus) was an ancient Aramaean Syro-Hittite state, established by Gusi of Yakhan at the beginning of the 9th century BC. It had included the cities of Arpad, Nampigi (Nampigu) and later on Aleppo. Arpad was the capital of the state-kingdom. Bit Agusi stretched from the A'zaz area in the north to Hamath in the south.

Bit Bahiani

Bit Baḫiani was an independent Aramean city-state kingdom (c. 1200 – 808 BC) with its capital at Guzana (modern day Tell Halaf). Bit Baḫiani was ruled by King Kapara. There were at least five kings and four governors of Bit Baḫiani before losing its name in usage.


Hilakku was one of the Neo-Hittite states during the Iron Age in southern Anatolia during the 1st millennium BC.Hilakku was north of the Neo-Hittite state of Tabal, west of Que, and north of the Mediterranean sea. It covered the land of Cilicia Tracheia, (Latin Aspera) of the Classical age, otherwise known as 'Rough Cilicia'. It was also within the south-eastern frontiers of the Hittite appanage domain of Tarhuntassa.


Kammanu was a Luwian speaking Neo-Hittite state in a plateau (Malatya Plain) to the north of the Taurus Mountains and to the west of Euphrates river in the late 2nd millennium BC, formed from part of Kizzuwatna after the collapse of the Hittite Empire. Its principal city was Melid.


Not to be confused with Karatepe, Termez, Uzbekistan, where a Buddhist mural from 3rd century was found, nor Kara Tepe Refugee Camp in Greece.

Karatepe (Turkish for "Black Hill"; Hittite: Azatiwataya) is a late Hittite fortress and open-air museum in Osmaniye Province in southern Turkey lying at a distance of about 23 km from the district center of Kadirli. It is sited in the Taurus Mountains, on the right bank of the Ceyhan River. The site is contained within Karatepe-Aslantaş National Park.


Kuttamuwa was an 8th-century BC royal official from Aramean city Sam'al who ordered an inscribed stele, that was to be erected upon his death. The inscription in Aramaic requested that his mourners commemorate his life and his afterlife with feasts "for my soul that is in this stele". It is one of the earliest references to a soul as a separate entity from the body. The 800-pound basalt stele is three feet tall and two feet wide. It was uncovered in the third season of excavations by the Neubauer Expedition of the Oriental Institute in Chicago, Illinois. The official publication was by Dennis Pardee, “A New Aramaic Inscription from Zincirli.” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, no. 356, 2009, pp. 51–71

List of circular cities

Several ancient cities of Mesopotamia and Persia are known to have had a circular plan.

List of political entities in the 12th century BC

Political entities in the 13th century BC – Political entities in the 11th century BC – Political entities by century

This is a list of political entities in the 12th century BC (1200–1101 BC).


Palistin (or Walistin), was an early Syro-Hittite kingdom located in what is now northwestern Syria and the southeastern Turkish province of Hatay. Its existence was confirmed by the discovery of several inscriptions mentioning Taita, king of Palistin.


King Rezin of Aram () or Rasin of Syria in DRB (Hebrew: רְצִין, Modern: Rəṣîn, Tiberian: Reṣîn; Akkadian: 𒊏𒄭𒀀𒉡/𒊏𒆥𒀀𒉡, romanized: Ra-ḫi-a-nu/Ra-qi-a-nu; Aramaic: probably Raḍyan‎; Latin: Rasin) ruled from Damascus during the 8th century BC. During his reign, he was a tributary of King Tiglath-pileser III of Assyria.

Sam'al lions

The Sam'al lions are four lion-shaped statues which are currently located in the Vorderasiatisches Museum Berlin (Pergamon Museum).

The lions are made from dolerite. They are 1.9 metres high, 2.9-3.05 metres long and 0.85-.0.9 metres wide. The figures have the inventory numbers VAG 1042, VA 2719, VA 2718 und VA 3001. Three of the lions are originals, one of them is a plaster cast.The lions come from Sam'al, the modern Zincirli, and have been dated between the 10th and 8th centuries BC. They probably belong to the inner part of the east gate of the city, but were discovered in a secondary deposition. All four lions differ from one another in details. The differences are so great that current scholarship argues that the outer lions must date to the 10th century BC and the inner lions to the 8th century. Both statues stand nearly square with one another. The sides are only carved in shallow relief. The later lions have been created by reworking older statues. They are more detached from the walls than the older ones and details like the manes and extremities have been more starkly worked. In addition, the mouths are opened more widely and give a more threatening impression. The lions served as orthostates and thus had both a decorative and a structural role.

The lions are displayed in room 2 (Syria and Asia Minor) of the Pergamonmuseum. They form an ensemble with other parts of the City gate of Sam'al and are located at the opposite end of the processional way of Babylon from the Ishtar gate. The statues were found by the Orient-Comité excavations in 1890/91 and brought to Berlin as partage (which was common at the time).Two associated lion statues are now on display in the Istanbul Museum of the Ancient Orient.

Sangara (king)

Sangara or Sangar was a king of Carchemish, who until recently was known only from Assyrian sources, but who in 2015 was also identified in Hieroglyphic Luwian by the Turco-Italian Archaeological Expedition at Karkemish. He is documented for 870 to 848 BC.Sangara likely accessed the throne of Carchemish only a short time after king Katuwa known from Hieroglyphic Luwian sources. He is only mentioned in texts of the Assyrian kings Ashurnasirpal II and Shalmaneser III.First, Sangara was tributary of Ashurnasirpal II. In 870 BC (alternative dating: 882 BC) the Assyrian king crossed the Euphrates and first turned against Carchemish. Facing the Assyrian army Sangara captulated quickly and paid a rich tribute because Carchemish was one of the wealthiest Syro-Hittite states of that time. He also had to send his chariotry, cavalry and infantry to support the Assyrian army. In return Sangara and Carchemish were spared by the Assyrians.In 858 BC Sangara participated in an anti-Assyrian coalition against Shalmaneser III which was formed by Aḫuni of Bit Adini, Hayyanu of Sam'al, Šuppiluliuma of Pattin and himself. They attacked the Assyrian army on the territory of Sam'al but were repelled. The uprising of Carchemish continued until Shalmaneser III destroyed the fortified city of Sazabu on the territory of Carchemish in 857 BC. Sangara capitulated and paid rich tribute.In 853 BC, Sangara paid tribute to the Assyrians again.In 849 BC, Sangara tried uprising again, this time forming an alliance with Hadram of Bit Agusi. Shalmaneser III invaded the state of Carchemish, destroying and burning several cities in Sangara's dominion. Sangara capitulated but not for long. In 848 BC, Hadram and he uprose again Shalmaneser III reacted by capturing and destroying 97 of Sangara's cities. For the period after 848 BC nothing more is known about Sangara but it is likely stayed on his throne as a faithful vassal of the Assyrian king as his ally Hadram of Bit Agusi did.

Son of God

Historically, many rulers have assumed titles such as son of God, son of a god or son of heaven.The term "son of God" is sometimes used in the Old and New Testaments of the Christian Bible to refer to those with special relationships with God. In the Old Testament, angels, just and pious men, and the kings of Israel are all called "sons of God." In the New Testament, Adam, and, most notably, Jesus Christ are called "son of God," while followers of Jesus are called, "sons of God."In the New Testament, "Son of God" is applied to Jesus on many occasions. Jesus is declared to be the Son of God on two separate occasions by a voice speaking from Heaven. Jesus is also explicitly and implicitly described as the Son of God by himself and by various individuals who appear in the New Testament. As applied to Jesus, the term is a reference to his role as the Messiah, the King chosen by God. The contexts and ways in which Jesus' title, Son of God, means something more than or other than Messiah remain the subject of ongoing scholarly study and discussion.

The term "Son of God" should not be confused with the term "God the Son" (Greek: Θεός ὁ υἱός), the second Person of the Trinity in Christian theology. The doctrine of the Trinity identifies Jesus as God the Son, identical in essence but distinct in person with regard to God the Father and God the Holy Spirit (the first and third Persons of the Trinity). Nontrinitarian Christians accept the application to Jesus of the term "Son of God", which is found in the New Testament, but not the term "God the Son", which is not found in any part of the Bible.

Stele of Ördek-Burnu

An undeciphered alphabetic stele found in Ördek-Burnu, 20 km south of Sam'al (8 miles south of Zinjirli) in what is now northern Syria, dates to the 9th century BCE. The language of the inscription is difficult to interpret. It contains Semitic words but is not grammatically Semitic, and may be a mixture of Luwian and a Semitic language. It is kept in Istanbul.

Victory stele of Esarhaddon

The Victory stele of Esarhaddon (also Zenjirli or Zincirli stele) is a dolerite stele commemorating the return of Esarhaddon after his army's 2nd battle and victory over Pharaoh Taharqa in northern ancient Egypt in 671 BC. It was discovered in 1888 in Zincirli Höyük (Sam'al, or Yadiya) by Felix von Luschan and Robert Koldewey. It is now in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin.

The prior battle of 674 BC was won by Taharqa after confronting Esarhaddon after his initial foray into the Levant; Esarhaddon then entered northern Egypt but was repulsed by Taharqa's forces.

The second battle of 671 BC saw Taharqa retreat with his army to Memphis; Memphis was taken with Taharqa then fleeing to Kush. With Esarhaddon's victory he: "slaughtered the villagers and 'erected piles of their heads'", As Esarhaddon wrote later:

"His queen, his harem, [Prince] Ushankhuru his heir, and the rest of his sons and daughters, his property and his goods, his horses, his cattle, his sheep in countless numbers, I carried off to Assyria. The root of Kush I tore up out of Egypt."

Vorderasiatisches Museum Berlin

The Vorderasiatisches Museum (German: [ˈfɔʁdɐ.ʔaˌzi̯atɪʃəs muˈzeːʊm], Near East Museum) is an archaeological museum in Berlin. It is in the basement of the south wing of the Pergamon Museum and has one of the world's largest collections of Southwest Asian art. 14 halls distributed across 2,000 square meters of exhibition surface display southwest Asian culture spanning six millennia. The exhibits cover a period from the 6th millennium BCE into the time of the Muslim conquests. They originate particularly from today's states of Iraq, Syria and Turkey, with singular finds also from other areas. Starting with the Neolithic finds, the emphasis of the collection is of finds from Sumer, Babylonia and Assyria, as well as northern Syria and eastern Anatolia.

Excavations in historically important cities like Uruk, Shuruppak, Assur, Hattusha, Tell el Amarna, Tell Halaf (Guzana), Sam'al, Toprakkale and Babylon built the foundation of the museum's collection. Further acquisitions came from Nimrud, Nineveh, Susa and Persepolis. The museum shows finds from the cultures of Sumer, Akkad, Babylonia, Assyria, the Hittites and the Aramaeans. These finds often found their way to Berlin via the German Oriental Society. In 1899, the Middle East Department at the royal museums was created. In 1929, they were provisionally accommodated in the Bode Museum and the Pergamon Museum, where they have been accessible to the public since 1930. During the Second World War, there were hardly any war-related losses. The mobile exhibits, which were taken as art spoliage to the Soviet Union, were returned to East Germany in 1958. The collection had already opened again as the Vorderasiatisches Museum in 1953.

Notable pieces of the collection are the Ishtar Gate and Procession Way of Babylon, remainders of the ancient city of Babylon, parts of the Eanna temple and Karaindash's temple to Inanna in Uruk. The museum also has an important number of Southwest Asian stamp and cylinder seals, as well as cuneiform texts. It has more than 200 of the Amarna letters and the larger ("Meissner") fragment (VAT 4105) of the Sippar tablet from the Epic of Gilgamesh, which includes Siduri's advice, unlike later editions of the epic.

At present Markus Hilgert is the director of the museum. Previous directors were Beate Salje, Walter Andrae, Gerhard Rudolf Meyer, Liane Jakob Rust and Evelyn Klengel Brandt, among others.

Syro-Hittite states and cities
Luwian states
Aramaean states
Black Sea
Central Anatolia
Eastern Anatolia


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