A visitor photographs the wall relief “Attack on an enemy town” of an Assyrian assault on a town in Turkey in 738-737 BC. Photo: Sam Tsang
Museum of History: A modern-day marvel in Ancient Mesopotamia by Joyce Man. South China Morning Post, Wednesday, January 30, 2013
More than 170 Mesopotamian artefacts, including wall reliefs, jewellery and tablets, go on display at the Museum of History today, in the first exhibition of its kind in Hong Kong.
"The Wonders of Ancient Mesopotamia" - which explores the period from 3,500BC to 539BC of the area that today includes parts of Iraq, Syria and Turkey - showcases objects from the British Museum's Middle East Department. It is the first time Hong Kong has held an exhibition of Mesopotamian artefacts.
The Museum of History and Jockey Club each contributed half the HK$13.8 million cost of the exhibition, which is jointly organised by the Museum of History and the British Museum. Among the artefacts, visitors will find cuneiform scripts - the earliest known form of writing - gold jewellery, cylinder seals used for legal and commercial purposes, spearheads, relief panels and palace furnishings of bronze and ivory. There are fragments from the library of Assyrian King Ashurbanipal, who was unusually literate and scholarly. His is the oldest surviving royal library.
The exhibition showcases Mesopotamia's innovations including the method of counting and measurement which led to the system of dividing hours and minutes into 60.
"The Mesopotamian civilisation had such a big influence on the arts, urban life, astrology, the system of telling time and more," Museum of History chief curator Susanna Siu Lai-kuen said. "The innovations of Mesopotamia are very relevant to our lives today. We thought it was important to bring this to the public."
Sarah Collins, curator of the British Museum's Middle East Department, said Mesopotamia was an advanced civilisation. "In their administration, legal affairs, politics and religion, they were very well-organised," she said. Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, British Museum deputy director Andrew Burnett, British Consul General to Hong Kong and Macau Caroline Wilson and Director of Leisure and Cultural Services Betty Fung Ching Suk-yee attended the exhibition's launch yesterday.
Mesopotamia included the Sumerian, Assyrian and Babylonian empires.
The exhibit takes visitors through the agricultural developments of Sumer, the military might of Assyria and the legacy of cosmopolitan Babylonia.
Also covered in the museum are the hanging gardens of Babylon, the only one of the seven wonders of the ancient world that has not been found.
\ã-'sir-é-ä\ n (1998)
1: an ancient empire of Ashur
2: a democratic state in Bet-Nahren, Assyria (northern
Iraq, northwestern Iran, southeastern Turkey and eastern Syria.)
a democratic state that fosters the social and political rights to all of
its inhabitants irrespective of their religion, race, or gender
4: a democratic state that believes in the freedom of
religion, conscience, language, education and culture in faithfulness to the
principles of the United Nations Charter —
Ethnicity, Religion, Language
Israeli, Jewish, Hebrew
Assyrian, Christian, Aramaic
Saudi Arabian, Muslim, Arabic
\ã-'sir-é-an\ adj or n (1998)
1: descendants of the ancient empire of Ashur
2: the Assyrians, although representing but one single
nation as the direct heirs of the ancient Assyrian Empire, are now
doctrinally divided, inter sese, into five principle
ecclesiastically designated religious sects with their corresponding
hierarchies and distinct church governments, namely, Church of the
East, Chaldean, Maronite, Syriac Orthodox and Syriac Catholic.
These formal divisions had their origin in the 5th century of the
Christian Era. No one can coherently understand the Assyrians
as a whole until he can distinguish that which is religion or church
from that which is nation -- a matter which is particularly
difficult for the people from the western world to understand; for
in the East, by force of circumstances beyond their control,
religion has been made, from time immemorial, virtually into a
criterion of nationality.
the Assyrians have been referred to as Aramaean, Aramaye, Ashuraya,
Ashureen, Ashuri, Ashuroyo, Assyrio-Chaldean, Aturaya, Chaldean,
Chaldo, ChaldoAssyrian, ChaldoAssyrio, Jacobite, Kaldany, Kaldu,
Kasdu, Malabar, Maronite, Maronaya, Nestorian, Nestornaye, Oromoye,
Suraya, Syriac, Syrian, Syriani, Suryoye, Suryoyo and Telkeffee. —
1: a Semitic language which became the lingua franca of
the Middle East during the ancient Assyrian empire.
2: has been referred to as Neo-Aramaic, Neo-Syriac, Classical
Syriac, Syriac, Suryoyo, Swadaya and Turoyo.