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.
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.
The ancient city of Baalbek in Lebanon contains temple architecture of both colossal scale and architectural artistry. Baalbek was known as Heliopolis during the Hellenistic period. The Imperial Roman empire of the late 1st – 3rd centuries established sanctuaries, built on top of earlier ruins, which attracted thousands of pilgrims.
The sanctuary of the Heliopolitan Jupiter was the principle temple at Baalbek from which the above sculpted stonework was excavated. The temple was richly decorated with exquisitely detailed stonework with construction beginning during the reign of Emperor Augustus in the late 1st century BC and completed soon after AD 60 under Nero. The stonework is on display in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin.
The ancient Greek city of Pergamon sits along the coastline of Turkey and once dominated the entire region. The buildings and monuments of Pergamon were constructed of white marble in the Hellenistic style. The Pergamon Altar was built during the 2nd century BCE and is associated with the temple that was dedicated to the Greek god Zeus.
The altar was excavated by the German archaeologist and architect Carl Humann during the 19th century. The altar was rebuilt stone by stone in Berlin with the Pergamon Museum opening in 1930 displaying the Pergamon Altar as its centrepiece.
The altar has a huge sculptural frieze which depicts the Gigantomachy which in Greek mythology was a battle between the gods and giants.
Ionic columns support the roof of the altar.
The preserved alabaster (above) is a palace relief from Ninevah dating to 650 BC. The scene depicted is from the campaign of Assyrian King Ashurbanipal (668-627 BC) against the Elamite city Hamanu. The depiction shows an Assyrian charioteer and archer protected from enemy attacks by shield bearers. The relief is on display in the Pergamon Museum, Berlin.