The Basilica di San Miniato al Monte (Church of San Miniato) sits in an elevated position overlooking the city of Florence. Built on the site of a 4th century chapel, the present church was built by the Florentine Bishop Hildebrand in 1018. Forming geometric designs, the facade is decorated with green and white marble with a 12th century mosaic above the pedimented central window.
Of a Romanesque design, the entire basilica took almost two centuries to complete. The church has a central nave, three aisles and frescoes which date to the 13th and 14th centuries.
The large mosaic of Christ flanked by the Madonna and Saints adorns the apse and dates to 1297.
The 13th century nave is marble intarsia decorated with the signs of the zodiac and symbolic animals. The exquisitely decorated pulpit dates to the 13th century and depicts three of the four Evangelists.
The trussed timber roof is equally rich in colour and decoration.
Qaṣr al-Mshattā was a Umayyad Palace built in the Jordan desert in circa 8th century AD. The Mshatta façade is richly decorated with reliefs and was part of an enclosing wall of the palace. The facade walls stand upon limestone masonry and are built of fired brick. The wall is divided by a zigzag moulding into triangles with a central rosette in each triangle. The Mshatta south façade was a gift from the Ottoman Sultan Abdulhamid to Kaiser Wilhelm I and is on display in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin.
Uruk was the largest settlement in southern Mesopotamia dating back to circa 3200BC. The ancient city was ruled by the Kassite King of Babylonia Kara-Indash towards the end of the 15th century BC. The Kassites rebuilt many sacred sites in the cities of Uruk, Eridu and Ur. Dating to circa 1413BC, King Kara-Indash built a new temple dedicated to the goddess Inanna. Inanna meaning Great Lady of An – An being the God of heaven. Part of the temple facade is on display in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin. The facade features male and female deities holding vases set in niches and is constructed of baked mud brick.
The ancient city of Uruk is located in modern day southern Iraq. Excavations of the temple complex of Inanna in the early 20th century led to the discovery of a carved alabaster stone vessel. The Warka Vase (Uruk Vase) depicts relief sculptures of worshippers taking provisions to the temple and dates to circa 3000BC. A copy of the Warka Vase is on display in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin.
Hattusa is a huge complex site just on the outskirts of the modern village of Boğazkale in Turkey. Hattusa was the capital of the Hittite Empire occupied by the Hatti from circa 2500BC onwards. The Hattusa Sphinx on display in the Pergamon Museum belonged to a pair of sphinxes from the Sphinx Gate of the Yerkapi rampart at Hattusa which date to circa 1400BC.
The Code of Hammurabi was discovered during excavations of Susa in 1902. Susa was an ancient city of the Elamite, Persian and Parthian empires located in modern day Iran. Known as the King of Justice, the ancient Babylonian King Hammurabi had a kingdom on the banks of the Euphrates and Tigris and ruled between 1792-1750BC. The Code of Hammurabi was a collection of legal documents with law and order as a divine mandate. A copy of the stele (upright stone slab or pillar bearing an inscription) is on display in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin.
Miletus was an ancient Greek City near the west coast of modern day Turkey. The theatre of Miletus was originally built in the 4th century BC but was enlarged under the Roman Emperor Trajan during the 2nd century AD. On display in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin is a relief which depicts the Greco-Roman god Apollo standing between two torch bearers. The marble relief, which was originally on the rear facade of the theatre, is similar to that of the 6th century BC archaic cult statue by Kanochos of Sikyon.
Sam’al was a colony founded in the 18th BC which became part of the Hittite Empire. Sam’al is located in modern day Turkey which was excavated during the 19th and 20th centuries. Dating to the 8th century BC, a Sam’al double sphinx column base is on display in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin. The basalt column bases were at the entrance of the Palace of Zincirli which was within the ancient walled city.
King Menua was a Urartian King in Ancient Asia Minor. He was the son of King Išpuini and ruled between c810 – c785BC. Menua built irrigation channels near Lake Van in the Armenian Highlands with construction of the fortress of Qalat Gah also attributed to him. The Menua Channel, also known as the Semiramis Channel, was one of a number of water channels which served the area of the capital Tuşpa. A cuneiform inscription (above) is on display in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin giving details that the son of King Išpuini, King Menua, constructed a building 10km north-east of Lake Van. The Menua Channel was marked by a number of such inscriptions.