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Treasures Of Ancient Near Eastern Art: The Paris And Berlin Collections

April 14-24, 1996

Sunday, April 14 Chicago/Paris

Depart for Paris, via Frankfurt, from Chicago.

Monday, April 15 Paris

Arrive in Frankfurt this morning and connect with your Lufthansa flight to Paris. Upon arrival at Paris' Charles de Gaulle Airport, you will be transferred to the four-star Hôtel Littré on the Left Bank. In the late afternoon take an introductory tour of Paris. Highlights such as the city's oldest monument, the hieroglyphic-inscribed obelisk originally erected by Ramses II at the Temple of Luxor in Egypt and now gracing the Place de la Concorde, are included. You will be treated to a welcome aperitif and dinner with your Oriental Institute study leader, Karen Wilson, at the restaurant Androuët, situated on the first floor of the most famous cheese shop in Paris.

PARIS Hôtel Littré (R,D)

Tuesday, April 16 Paris

After continental breakfast at the hotel, visit the archaeology rooms in the Renaissance mansion Hôtel Carnavalet, which serves as the historical museum for the city of Paris, followed by a tour of the archaeological exhibition in the crypt of Notre Dame. Conclude the morning at the stunning Institute of the Arab World, established by France and twenty Arab countries to promote Arab culture and cultural exchanges. After lunch in the Institute's restaurant, the Director will personally take you through the organization's museum, with exhibits on various Arab decorative arts from the 9th to the 19th centuries; scientific achievements in mathematics, medicine and astronomy, including a highly regarded collection of astronomers' astrolabes; and the architecture of mosques and palaces.

This afternoon tour the Mosque, erected from 1922-26, where craftsmen from the Islamic countries decorated the prayer chamber, courtyard, and minaret with magnificent Persian carpets, a dais from Egypt, cedar from Lebanon and copper from North Africa. The afternoon visit concludes with tea at the Mosque.

PARIS Hôtel Littré (B,L,Tea)

Wednesday, April 17 Paris

During a breakfast seminar in the Café Richelieu with Annie Caubet, Chief Curator, Département des Antiquités Orientales at the Musée du Louvre, become acquainted with the new Near Eastern galleries recently opened in the Richelieu wing of the museum. Enter the Louvre through the glass pyramid designed by architect I.M. Pei, who was also in charge of the renovation of the Richelieu wing. Five Mesopotamian galleries focus on the Sumerians (especially the sites of Tello and Mari); the Akkadian empire and its southern succesor, Gudea; Babylon (including the original Code of Hammurabi); and the Neo-Assyrians. Enjoy the magnificent Khorsabad Court, with its monumental reliefs and life-sized cast of the Oriental Institute's own Khorsabad human-headed winged bull. Other galleries in this wing exhibit Neo-Hittite remains from north Syria; a broad range of Iranian cultural remains, primarily from the excavations at the site of Susa; and numerous antiquities from the Levant. The new galleries of Islamic art place on exhibit part of the museum's extensive collections of later Middle Eastern art.

The rest of the afternoon is free to explore the Louvre on your own. You may wish to attend a ballet this evening at the Opéra de Paris-Garnier. Designed by Charles Garnier, the theater is considered Paris' most beautiful monument of the Second Empire.

PARIS Hôtel Littré (B)

Thursday, April 18 Paris

Use this free morning to explore the city, shop, or make a return visit to the Louvre to see some of the Egyptian collection. Highlights in the Sully Square Court include a massive pink granite sphinx from Tanis, superb pre-Dynastic and Old Kingdom remains (including the famous life-like 5th dynasty seated scribe), and a rich collection of art from the Amarna period. After an afternoon visit to the Iranian collections at the Sevres Museum, drive to the Art Deco restaurant Drouant for dinner. Famous writers and artists such as Renoir, Rodin and Monet used to meet at this restaurant; since 1914 it has been the site of the "Prix Goncourt" literary competition.

PARIS Hôtel Littré (B,D)

Friday, April 19 Paris/Berlin

Transfer mid-morning to Charles de Gaulle Airport for your 1 1/2 hour flight to Berlin. Check into the four-star Hotel Berlin, located just north of the Zoological Garden. The afternoon is free to acquaint yourself with this city of many charms. Dine with the group this evening at the hotel.

BERLIN Hotel Berlin; (B,D)

Saturday, April 20 Berlin

A full day of viewing the important collections on Museum Island begins after buffet breakfast at the hotel. Among the antiquities you will admire during your gallery walk in the world-renowned Pergamon Museum is the Pergamon Altar, erected in the second century B.C. as a tribute to Zeus and Athena and ranked as one of the wonders of the ancient world; it was excavated in Asia Minor between 1878-86 and brought to Berlin at the beginning of the 20th century. Of special interest here is the Islamic collection, with the facade of the 8th-century Castle of Mshatta from the desert of Jordan, and Persian miniatures, carpets and woodcarving. Also view products of 4,000 years of history, art and culture in the "Western Asian" (Near Eastern) museum, including the monumental Ishtar Gate from the time of Nebuchadnezzar II (6th-century B.C.).

In the afternoon cross to the northern tip of the peninsula in the River Spree for a specially guided tour of selected exhibits in the Bode Museum. Included is one of the world's largest papyrus collections and major pieces from the Near East, particularly Syria, which are part of the Museum of Prehistoric and Early History.

BERLIN Hotel Berlin; (B)

Sunday, April 21 Berlin

Join the group for a breakfast lecture at the hotel by a German specialist on archaeology, then start your day at Charlottenburg Palace, viewing first the historical royal apartments, including the former living quarters of Frederick the Great. Afterwards cross to the Egyptian Museum to be greeted by its curator. Its most celebrated artifact may be the limestone bust of Queen Nefertiti, first discovered at Tell el-Amarna, a new capital city founded by the pharaoh Akhenaten in the 14th century B.C. Seventeen well-displayed rooms illustrate the high culture of ancient Egypt from 5000 B.C. to 300 A.D.

You have the afternoon at leisure to continue in the museum or perhaps explore the many faces of Berlin on your own.

BERLIN Hotel Berlin; (B)

Monday, April 22 Berlin

On this morning, when many of Berlin's museums are closed, enjoy a change of pace: an orientation tour of the city by private coach, when you will become acquainted with the Brandenburg Gate, the grand avenue Unter den Linden, Alexanderplatz and, of course, the stylish Kurfürstendamm Boulevard. Conclude the morning of sightseeing with lunch in the restaurant of the Reichstag, rebuilt in 1970 as the seat of parliament after a suspicious fire in 1933 destroyed the original Neo-Renaissance palace.

The afternoon is free of scheduled activities. You may wish to attend an opera, concert, or theater performance which will convince you of Berlin's claim to be one of the world's most vital theatrical cities.

BERLIN Hotel Berlin; (B,L)

Tuesday, April 23 Berlin

Become acquainted this morning with the Museum of Islamic Art in the Dahlem Museums complex. The exhibits cover the early Islamic period (8th C.) through the 18th century, and include books and manuscripts, fabrics, furniture, glass, ivories, metalwork, miniatures and pottery. You may want to stay on afterwards to explore other collections, ranging from the European paintings of Old Masters, the sculpture gallery, the collection of Indian art, to the ethnographic exhibits.

On this final afternoon in Europe, study leader Karen Wilson reviews your Oriental Institute tour. Celebrate its successful conclusion with a lively farewell dinner of typical Berlin specialties at the restaurant Mütter Hoppe in the Nikolai Quarter, Old Berlin's picturesque core.

BERLIN Hotel Berlin; (B,D)

Wednesday, April 24 Berlin/Chicago

Depart Berlin for Chicago via Frankfurt.


Revised: March 3, 2009

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