Berlin Museuminsel #1

Museuminsel is a collection of several important national museums – not all of which I visited (the Art/Painting/Old Masters … not particularly interested) …

Pergamon Museum – The Ishtar Gate

This is well known as the location of the Pergamon Altar (not really an Altar, but, hey, who cares) from which it takes its name and which, like the other big items on ‘display’ was disassembled and removed to be re-erected in Berlin.

The last time I was here in 2003 the museum was undergoing refurbishment and the Altar was only partly displayed as were other of the major features … this time it was not accessible at all as there is (another) major rebuilding project under way.

The Ishtar Gate, however, and the Processional Way, however, which, last time, were also only partly on display were fully on display this time!

Swings. Roundabouts.

Bull from the Processional Way leading to the Ishtar Gate – as you can make out, these were reassembled from fragments of glazed brick excavated in Ottoman Iraq at the site of Babylon way back … amazing artwork and an amazing archaeological jigsaw puzzle!
Dragon ( mušḫuššu ) also from the Processional Way.
Lion from the Processional Way

The reconstruction is not 100% original, some of the glazed bricks were not found (shattered into two small fragments?) and they were replaced with modern reproductions when erected … the rosettes above and below the animals, for example, are almost entirely replacements based on the few surviving fragments.

The Processional Way as displayed in the Museum … the actual way, in situ in Babylon, was about two or three times the width shown here.
The central part of the Ishtar Gate – bloody tourists all wanting to take pictures and look. How dare they!
One of the ‘towers’ on either side of the central gate arch
The right hand side of the arch of the Ishtar Gate.
The Processional Way and Ishtar Gate were rather like ‘Troy’ … that is, they were one of a series of similarly intended structures built, razed and replaced by bigger or better ones.
An earlier iteration of the Processional Way with unglazed bricks … Bull and Dragon still depicted.
Even earlier – differently coloured fired clay cones (yellow, red, black) pressed into wet clay bricks to form several different geometric patterns.

You get a real feel for what it may have been like back in the day … it must have been an awe-inspiring sight to foreign embassies and other visitors and to anyone travelling to Babylon on business, commercial or religious. Which, of course, was the intention of the thing … conspicuous display of just how wealthy (and, therefore, powerful) the King was and how strong his desire to please the Gods was, and, of course, this implied that the Gods would favour him in all things as well. A sobering thought for those visitors.

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