The Edgar and Deborah Jannotta Mesopotamian Gallery displays over 1,000 objects dating from the Paleolithic Period (ca. 80,000 BC) to the Islamic conquest in AD 642. The gallery houses the largest and most comprehensive display of material from Mesopotamia (ancient Iraq) in the western Hemisphere.
The left side of the gallery is arranged chronologically, starting with the Robert and Linda Braidwood Prehistory Exhibit that highlights the work of these pioneering Oriental Institute archaeologists who documented the development of human society from nomadic groups to settled farming villages. The exhibit continues with examples of pottery, sculpture, jewelry, and objects of daily life from different time periods, accompanied by descriptions of political, economic, and technological trends.
The right side of the gallery is devoted to themes including trade and materials, the family and household, temples, and the king. Many examples of cylinder seals – the equivalent of ancient signatures, are on exhibit, demonstrating the development of art and administrative practices.
Special emphasis is given to the development of writing, the training of scribes, and the tradition of royal inscriptions, illustrated by many types of cuneiform documents as well as by a cast of the Code of Hammurabi.
Highlights of the gallery include a collection of Sumerian statues (ca. 2500 BC), striding lions from the walls of Babylon (605-563 BC), and a child’s pull toy (ca. 2350 BC).