We found ourselves at the end of our Berlin vacation not having yet gone to a single museum. So after meeting up with old childhood friends, and having some downtime before our “next meeting”, for this is what the vacation had become, we went to the Pergamon Museum.
It was originally built between 1910 and 1930. During the Cold War it was within communist East Berlin territory. It currently houses 3 museums – the Collection of
Classical Antiquities, the Museum of the Ancient Near East and the
Museum of Islamic Art.
It is world renowned for it’s reconstructions of archaelogical finds including the Pergamon Altar, the Market Gate of
Miletus, the Processional Way of Babylon, the Ishtar Gate and the Mshatta Façade.
The Pergamon Altar: Built in the 2nd century BC, excavated in the 1870s, and reconstructed in the museum in the 1900s.
The Gigantomachy Frieze: This depicts the struggle of the gods against the children of the goddess Gaia. It would have lined the base of the altar. Here in the museum, the majority of it is mounted on the wall around.
A relief panel on the East side of the Gigantomachy Frieze: This panel depicts the city goddess of Pergamon, Athena, pulling the Giant Alkyoneus by his hair with her right hand thus breaking his contact with the earth. As she does so, his mother, Gaia, emerges from the earth on the right side of the frieze to beg for his mercy. Legend has it the Alkyoneus was immortal only as long as he was in contact with earth (and thus the power of his mother).
Pergamene Athena Temple: the entryway
Market Gate of Miletus: from about 100 AD this structure represents Roman splendor in the city of Miletus, in Asia Minor. It was partially destroyed in 1100 on site, damaged during World War II in the museum, and neglected during the 1950s-1960s. It is currently being refurbished.
Ishtar Gate: Constructed in 570s BC on the order of King Nebuchadnezzar II and dedicated to the Babylonian goddess Ishtar, it is made of a rare blue stone (lapis lazuli), and was once considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World. It opens up into the Processional Way whose walls are covered by lions.
Details of the Processional Way
The Mshatta Façade: façade of the 8th century Umayyad residential palace of Qasr Mshatta in modern day Jordan. It was discovered and excavated in 1840 and was a gift from the Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid II to the German Emperor Wilhelm II.
Detail of the Mshatta Façade
Rock crystal ewer: a thousand year old ewer most probably from Cairo circa 975 – 1025. The cheetahs with chains around their necks are attributed to Fatimid Caliphs. It is made out of a single piece of rock crystal and is supposed to be one of the most valuable objects in Islamic Art. The golden mount is from 1800s Europe.
Human headed winged bulls (Lamussu): from Mesopolitanian mythology these are considered protective spirits and are often placed at the entryway as reconstructed here.
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