The Museum displays thousands of artifacts representing the broad range of cultures of the Ancient Near East. A tour through the Museum is a walk through time as the thousands of treasures on display reveal the magnificent cultures of ancient Egypt, Sumer, Assyria and Babylon. The world of the Hittites, the Phoenicians, the civilizations of Greece and Rome and the importance of Canaan, Judea and Israel at the cross-roads of the ancient world come to life before you.
The exquisite permanent collection invites you to embark on a fascinating journey through the ancient lands of the Bible, tracing history from the dawn of civilization to the early Christian era. The treasures on display represent the physical evidence of civilizations and events described in the Bible. Traditions, rituals, religions, and cultures are revealed through ancient ivories, mosaics, jewelry, seals, terra cotta and stone sculptures. The magnificent cultures of ancient Egypt, Sumer, Assyria and Babylon come to life before you.
INTRODUCTORY GALLERY Facing you at the entrance to the gallery are three cases illustrating the biblical concept of the unity of humankind by artifacts representing the cultures of the sons of Noah. Continue into the gallery and see the illuminated map which shows the boundaries of the lands of the Bible, highlighting the various ruling empires, and traces the journey of Abraham. On the opposite wall is a time-line illustrating major historical events according to region and date. The artifacts on display represent each of the 20 Galleries of the permanent exhibition.
FROM HUNTER TO URBAN DWELLER
This gallery depicts the development of society from hunting and gathering until the dawn of civilization. Vessels and tools reveal technological progress from the Old Stone onward.
THE COMING OF CIVILIZATION
The Anne and Joseph Ternbach Gallery The first urban settlements evolved in the fourth millennium B.C.E. Seals and amulets in the gallery represent concepts and beliefs in Mesopotamia at that time.
The Ana and Abraham Portnoy Gallery visit the interactive multi-media computer program, "Seals, A Journey in Time", which displays the many different uses of seals in the ancient Near East, illustrating 6,500 years of glyptic art with examples from the Museum's collection.
LITERATE VOICES, THE STORY OF WRITING
This gallery chronicles the development of written communication from its earliest forms – a revolutionary invention that changed the shape of history. On display are examples of the many different scripts of the ancient Near East, cuneiform, hieroglyphic and alphabetic writing.
THE PRE-PATRIARCHAL WORLD
In the third millennium B.C.E. Mesopotamia was the center of an international commercial system, reaching from India in the east to Syria and Anatolia in the west. Displayed here are examples of tools, documents and Vehicles of the merchants of the ancient Near East.
THE SUMERIAN TEMPLE
The Zeev Reuben Borowski Gallery This gallery shows the religious life of Sumer, in southern Mesopotamia. Represented here are Worshipper statuettes, seals, and the model of the Ziggurat of Ur, depicting the world of the gods and their relationship with mortals.
OLD KINGDOM EGYPT
The Egyptian artifacts in this gallery emphasize the great importance the Egyptians assigned to the afterlife. A model of the royal burial grounds at Giza is situated in the center of the gallery.
GENESIS 14, THE AGE OF WARFARE
The Harriet and Leon Pumerance Gallery Featured here are a variety of weapons and representation of warriors from the Early and Middle Bronze Age illustrating the story from Genesis 14, the war of the four kings against the five kings.
THE AGE OF PATRIARCHS
This gallery shows the cultural background of the Patriarchs in the lands of the ancient Near East. Abraham's belief in one God may have emerged from contemporary religious beliefs existing in this region. A unique cuneiform tablet illustrates temple worship in the month of Shabatu (Shvat) in the land of Abraham's birth.
WHEN ISRAEL SOJOURNED IN EGYPT
Seen here are exhibits from the New Kingdom Period in Egypt and its northern neighbors (Canaan, Syria and the land of the Hittites). This period is reflected in the story of the Exodus, the exact route and date of which scholars are debating, some of their opinions are presented here.
THE SEA PEOPLE
Known by the Egyptians as Sea Peoples, they included the Philistines and other groups originating from the Aegean world. During this period the Israelites were settling in Canaan.
THE ARRIVAL OF THE IRANIAN HORSEMEN
The invasions of horsriding nomads, from the steppes to Asia into Iran during the 14th century B.C.E., are chronicled here. Elam, in southern Iran, was at the height of its power in the twelfth century and its influence spread across southern Mesopotamia.
STONES OF ARAM
During the first Millennium B.C.E. new city-states were established in northern Syria and eastern Anatolia. Aram of Zoba, Aram of Damascus, Aram of Beth-rehob, all mentioned in the Bible, are examples of such city-states. Other artifacts displayed here exemplify the Neo-Hittite culture.
ISRAEL AMONG THE NATIONS
The culture of Israel, Judah and their neighbors during the first Temple period are shown here. On display is a model of Jerusalem at the end of the first Temple period. Note the display of seals bearing theophoric names like Jonathan, Adonizur and Adoniyahu. Relics from Israel's ancient neighbors exquisite carved ivories from the palace of Hazael, king of Damascus, and an in-depth display on the West Semitic Gods.
ASSYRIA, THE ROD OF MY ANGER
This gallery centers on the Assyrian Empire, despoiler of the kingdom of Israel. A relief from the palace of Sennacheib shows the Assyrian policy of mass deportation, which befell the ten tribes after Assyria conquered Israel. Models of Senncherib's palace and the city of Babylon are also featured in this gallery along with artifacts from Assyrian's rivals at the time – Elam, Babylon, and Urartu.
THE SPLENDOR OF PERSIA
The Lily and Nathan Silver Gallery Shown here is the richness of Persian Empire, as background to the story of the book of Esther. The gallery reflects the wealth and magnitude of the Empire, a tolerant regime, which allowed the Jews in Babylon to return from their exile and rebuild their Temple. The customs of the Persian royal house with its banquets are illustrated here/
After Alexander the Great's empire broke up into several kingdoms, ruled by dynasties founded by his generals, Judaea fell under the dominion of the Ptolemaic dynasty of Egypt, and was later conquered by the Seleucid dynasty of Syria. The artifacts in the gallery describe the events of the period including the Maccabean Revolt.
ROME AND JUDAEA In 63 B.C.E.
Judaea became a client state of the Roman Empire; in 70 C.E. after the Jewish War, it became a Roman province. Note the Jewish sarcophagus from Jerusalem of the Second Temple period, and the elaborate Christian sarcophagus from the fourth century C.E. Mishnaic Judaism, early Christianity and the last vestiges of paganism are shown here.
ROMAN AND COPTIC EGYPT
The Rachel and Moshe Schoenberg Gallery The gallery describes the fading of Egyptian culture during the period of Roman and Byzantine rule. Intricate burial wrappings replaced mummification. With the rise of Christianity, the Egyptians stopped embalming their dead,
SASSANIAN MESOPOTAMIA – HOME OF THE BABYLONIAN TALMUD
The Rabbi Mordecai and Sylvia Green Gallery Under the rule of the Parthians and Sassanians the flourishing Jewish communities in southern Mesopotamia created the Babylonian Talmud. On display are magic Jewish incantation bowls and elegant silver vessels from the Sassanian period.