Monday, September 3, 2012

DBSB '12: MI, Day 2: Pergamon Museum

After our visit to the Bode, we made our way to the Pergamon Museum, which was built in twenty years (1910-1930) and was designed by Alfred Messel and Ludwig Hoffmann. By the time the Bode Museum opened to the public, excavations were underway in Babylon, Uruk, Assur, Miletus, Priene, and Egypt, and the existing museums were not enough to hold all the objects that were being brought back. So the Pergamon Museum was born.


The most famous feature of this museum, and the monument after which it is named, is the Pergamon Altar.

The Pergamon Altar was built during the reign of King Eumenes II in the first half of the 2nd century BCE. The structure is 35.64 meters wide and 33.4 meters deep, and the front stairway is almost 20 meters wide. The base is decorated with a frieze in high relief depicting the Gigantomachy, the battle between the Giants and the Olympian gods.

The Market Gate of Miletus, dating from about 120 CE. It is almost 17 meters high and 29 meters wide. After its destruction by an earthquake in around 1100, it was dug up by Theodor Wiegand during the museum's excavations in Miletus (1899-1913)


The Ishtar Gate was constructed in about 575 BCE by order of the King Nebuchadnezzar II as the eighth gate to the inner city of Babylon. It is made of glazed brick with alternating rows of bas-relief mušḫuššu (dragons) and aurochs, and is dedicated to Ishtar, the Babylonian goddess of fertility, war, love, and sex.

According to Wikipedia, since the gate was part of the Walls of Babylon, it was considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World until it was replaced by the Lighthouse of Alexandria in the 6th century CE.

You have to understand that the Pergamon Altar and the Ishtar Gate were two of the first monuments I ever learned about when I began studying Art History, back when I was a wee little senior in high school. To finally stand in front of them, just like when I saw the Venus of Willendorf in Vienna, was one of the most humbling experiences ever. Here are monuments so old, so ancient, that I am absolutely insignificant to them. They've existed for thousands of years. People travel across the planet to be able to see them, and they will continue to do so long after I am gone, and still, they will be but a blip in its history. I had never felt so tiny.

After all this came the Museum of Islamic Art. Which is inside the Pergamon Museum. So it's like a museum within a museum... sort of.

This is the Mshatta Facade, part of the 8th century Umayyad residential palace of Qasr Mshatta, one of the Desert Castles in Jordan. The palace was excavated about 30 km south of the contemporary Jordanian capital of Amman. It is thought to have served as a winter residence and storage halls during the Umayyad period, and it dates to the era of Caliph Al-Walid II (743-744). After he was murdered, it was left incomplete and later ruined by an earthquake. The palace was excavated in 1840, and the facade was a gift from the Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid II to Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany. (Disclaimer: Sarah informed me that information for this period is up for debate, and, since I used Wikipedia as a source, this information may be outdated or downright wrong. So, read with a grain of salt. Also, I do make mistakes, so don't quote me or anything.)

Now the rest of the pictures are of the Pergamon Museum proper again.

You see it too, right?

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