Hong Kong's first Mesopotamia exhibition to open at Museum of History
Following last year's "The Majesty of All Under Heaven: The Eternal Realm of China's First Emperor" exhibition, the Hong Kong Museum of History presents another spectacular exhibition on ancient civilisation titled "The Wonders of Ancient Mesopotamia", which opens tomorrow (January 30) and runs until May 13, allowing visitors the chance to discover the mysteries of this historic region.
Jointly presented by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and the Trustees of the British Museum, the exhibition is organised by the Hong Kong Museum of History and the British Museum. It is solely sponsored by the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust and the first exhibition in the 2013 Hong Kong Jockey Club series. It is also the first exhibition on Mesopotamian artefacts ever held in Hong Kong and the only venue in Asia to host the world tour of this exhibition.
The exhibition was officially opened today (January 29) by the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mrs Carrie Lam; the British Consul General to Hong Kong and Macao, Ms Caroline Wilson; the Deputy Director of the British Museum, Dr Andrew Burnett; the Deputy Chairman of the Hong Kong Jockey Club, Dr Simon Ip; the Director of International Engagement of the British Museum, Mr Philip Marshall; the Director of Leisure and Cultural Services, Mrs Betty Fung; and the Chief Curator of the Hong Kong Museum of History, Ms Susanna Siu.
The literal meaning of Mesopotamia is "the land between the rivers", which today includes parts of modern Iraq, north east Syria and south east Turkey. The two rivers referred to are the Tigris and the Euphrates. During the third millennium BC, the ancient Mesopotamians invented writing, built the earliest urban landscape, divided time into minutes and seconds and developed trading, advanced administration, literature, art, and astronomy. Taken together, these achievements help to explain Mesopotamia's reputation as the cradle of civilisation.
Showcasing 170 treasures carefully selected from the Middle East Department of the British Museum, the exhibition focuses on the heartland of Mesopotamia, now Iraq, and explores significant episodes of ancient Mesopotamian history from 3500 BC to 539 BC. The exhibition is divided into three sections, namely Sumer, Assyria and Babylon.
Artefacts on display include clay tablets bearing the earliest human writing in cuneiform scripts (3300 to 3000 BC); a handsome selection of cylinder seals used in commercial and legal transactions; a stunning array of jewellery made of gold, silver and precious gems; political and religious statues in different shapes and sizes; impressive palace furnishings made of bronze and ivory; a host of military and ceremonial gears and a series of massive stone reliefs featuring hunting and battle scenes.
Visitors will also witness the glamour of the Assyrian and Babylonian empires through the relics of the Palaces of Nimrud and the Royal Library of Nineveh collected by the British Museum. Legends of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Creation of the World and the Tower of Babel are also covered in the exhibition.
In addition, a series of multimedia programmes and videos are featured to enrich the exhibition's content.
With funding from the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust, the Hong Kong Museum of History will also organise a series of educational activities, including guided tours, lectures, workshops, teacher seminars, an interactivity scheme and a caring for the community scheme. For details of the exhibition and educational activities, please visit the Hong Kong Museum of History's website at www.hk.history.museum/en/ex_special_20121116a.php . For enquiries, please call 2724 9042.
Schools and registered non-profit-making organisations may apply for free admission to the exhibition along with a guided tour and a free coach service for group visits of 20 or more people. Interested parties may call 2724 9080 two weeks before the visit is planned and applications will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis. Application forms can be downloaded from the exhibition website at www.hk.history.museum/en/group.php.
The Hong Kong Museum of History is located at 100 Chatham Road South, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon. It is open from 10am to 6pm on Mondays and Wednesday to Friday, and from 10am to 7pm on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays. It is closed at 5pm on Chinese New Year's Eve. It is closed on Tuesdays (except public holidays) and the first two days of the Chinese New Year.
Admission to "The Wonders of Ancient Mesopotamia" exhibition is $10 for all visitors. As this is a special exhibition, free admission on Wednesdays and concession tickets are not available. Museum Pass holders and children under four years old accompanied by an adult are entitled to free admission.
Ends/Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Issued at HKT 19:00
The opening ceremony of "The Wonders of Ancient Mesopotamia", the first exhibition of its kind ever presented in town, was held today (January 29) at the Hong Kong Museum of History. Picture shows the officiating guests at the opening ceremony, including (from left) the Director of International Engagement of the British Museum, Mr Philip Marshall; the Director of Leisure and Cultural Services, Mrs Betty Fung; the Deputy Chairman of the Hong Kong Jockey Club, Dr Simon Ip; the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mrs Carrie Lam; the British Consul General to Hong Kong and Macao, Ms Caroline Wilson; the Deputy Director of the British Museum, Dr Andrew Burnett; and the Chief Curator of the Hong Kong Museum of History, Ms Susanna Siu.
Picture shows the "Table of reciprocals of 60" (2100 BC to 2000 BC) from southern Iraq. The central numerical system which underpinned 3,000 years of daily Mesopotamian calculation was the sexagesimal system - counting in 60s, our division of hours and minutes into 60 units is a direct descendent of Babylonian systems of counting and measurement. This exhibit is on display at the Hong Kong Museum of History's "The Wonders of Ancient Mesopotamia" exhibition.
Picture shows the "Gardens at Nineveh" (645 BC to 635 BC) from the North Palace of Nineveh. No evidence of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon has yet been found but it is known that kings had royal gardens and that the technology for managing and controlling water in Mesopotamia was highly developed. This stone wall relief from Nineveh shows a luxurious hillside landscape watered by a stone aqueduct. Water is flowing down from the aqueduct at the right and being distributed through several channels. At the top of the hill there is a pavilion with elaborate columns and a statue of an Assyrian king.