Changing time and place with a single step

When you step under and then through the Babylonian Ishtar Gate in the Pergamon Museum, you step under and out of the market gate of Miletus in Turkey. The gate was constructed in the second century of the Common Era, most likely under the reign of Emperor Hadrian (famous for his wall across Great Britain). The gate suffered earthquake damage on at least two occasions when in its original location. After the damage in the 10th or 11th century, it was not rebuilt.

That was until a German archaeologist discovered the remnants and chose to rebuild it in Berlin. The large-scale Pergamon Museum was the ideal site and it now stands back to back with the Ishtar gate.

The exhibit of Market Gate of Miletus was criticised at the outset for the implication that all parts were original, when in fact many sections consist of replications to create the full effect. In its home in Berlin it was also not completely safe, the museum, at the heart of Berlin, suffered bomb damage and the gate was re-reconstructed in the 1950s. Subsequently, problems with the non-compatibility of reconstruction materials have necessitated further restoration.

On entering the room through the gate, a large Orpheus floor mosaic comes into view, also found at Miletus. It was easiest to photograph up side down because unsurprisingly, more people were standing at the foot of the image! Even though upside down here, you can see the central image of the bard Orpheus playing his lyre surrounded by images of the animals he is charming with his signing.

Other Roman architectural finds are also displayed in this room, including a high columned gate and a large rounded balcony from which no doubt important people waved as less important ones below.


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