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The famous Ishtar Gate at the Pergamon museum reflected on the entrance gate of the new exhibition
© dpa
Expo of greatest Babylon treasures opens in Berlin

June 27, 2008

A touring exhibition of the greatest surviving treasures of ancient Babylon opened on Thursday 26th June 2008 at the Pergamon Museum in Berlin, which already has one of the world's richest Babylonian collections.

The Louvre in Paris and the British Museum in London have contributed artefacts to the show, which has already been seen in the French capital, but without many of the German treasures. Pergamon officials said an extra 300,000 people were expected to see the spectacular "Babylon: Myth and Reality" show, which is on from 26th June - 5th October, when it leaves for London. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, a sponsor of the show, said Babylon in modern-day Iraq had been the world's first urban culture.

This major exhibition explores the myth of Babel and the true facts surrounding the ancient city of Babylon: two worlds - one exhibition. The Babylon exhibition includes statues, writing tablets, grave goods, stone reliefs, weapons, coins and scale models.

The lofty Pergamon Museum keeps two Babylonian monuments indoors: the Ishtar Gate and the Street of Processions. The short tiled street used to connect the city's Temple of Marduk with the royal palace. German archaeologist Robert Koldewey dug up the brightly coloured tiles a century ago to be reassembled in the Berlin museum.

Reclaiming Babylon's reputation

Exhibition designers said the 1,000 items on display illustrated the vast cultural heritage of Iraq and would explore why western culture falsely associated Babylonian civilisation with evil, with a Biblical tradition describing the city as the "Whore of Babylon." The same cultural tradition has regarded the city as a failure, because it failed to complete its lofty Tower of Babel.

Babylon was a centre of power for about 500 years until the conquests in 322 BC by Alexander the Great of Macedonia. Much of the site 90 kilometres (56 miles) south of Baghdad has been stripped. Iraq built a modern replica of Babylon's wall and other buildings on the site in the 1980s.




© Deutsche Welle, German Information Centre New Delhi
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