The little bits

The Pergamon Museum was designed to display large reconstructions. It is home to two other large exhibits, the Pergamon Altar (for which it is named) and the Mshatta Façade. Both of these were closed to the public during my visit. However, despite only seeing two of the grand items in the collection, there remained plenty of smaller items in the rooms on the other side of the Ishtar processional corridor.

The collection includes actual and replica artefacts from the near East. I found this replica particularly interesting. It is a cast of the Code of Hammurapi, the original is in the Louvre in Paris.

In the upright picture you can get a sense of its size from the woman standing not far behind it, the horizontal picture gives an indication of how small the cuneiform script is in which 282 laws have been carved. Hammurapi’s reign was from 1792 – 1750 BCE and one of his significant achievements in this time was documenting oral law in written form.

This stele is one of the earliest records of the famous “an eye for an eye” laws, which aimed to prevent *more* damage from being done by a revenge act than the original one. A summary which encompasses this sentiment better would be “only an eye for an eye”.

There is also a modern reconstruction of the façade of a temple to Inanna and a large water container. The content of the latter is clear from the fish on its side, I’m less sure whether it was for keeping drinking water, for bathing or to keep fish for fun or consumption.

On the floor above this collection of ancient artefacts (still on the other side of the Ishtar processional corridor) is the Museum for Islamic Art. It is a stunning collection of ancient and modern pieces, including these three stunning prayer niches.

The detailed ceramic work on the tiles of each of them is amazingly intricate. Despite being a lot smaller than the grand exhibits, visiting these in person is similarly breathtaking.

When you are next in Berlin, I recommend a visit, you get to pat the nose of the lion at the entrance like many others have!


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