The Dutch and the ancient Near East

A gallery in the museum’s new Near Eastern sectionA gallery in the museum’s new Near Eastern section
Funerary relief of mother and daughter (from Palmyra, 200-225 A.D.)Funerary relief of mother and daughter (from Palmyra, 200-225 A.D.)

On 27 April 2013, the National Museum of Antiquities unveiled the all-new display of its Near Eastern collection. This section of the museum now tells the fascinating story of how millennia-old objects found their way into the museum collection. Dutch archaeologists, collectors, and scholars played a crucial role in this process. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, their travels often turned into true adventures.

Tales of an exceptional collection

Treasures from a mountain temple in Syria, golden earrings from Persia, and stone reliefs with portraits of famous kings – the new display focuses on the intriguing archaeological facts about these objects, the stories of their wanderings, and their connections with Dutch scholars through the centuries. You will find out what made 1929 a landmark year for the Near East collection, which sport was preferred by the kings of Mesopotamia, and who became the first Dutchman to carry out archaeological excavations in Babylon.

The Dutch and the Near East

The Dutch have had ties with the Near East for centuries. Frisian and Dutch crusaders travelled to Jerusalem eight hundred years ago. In later times, explorers returned with tales of fascinating ruins, and during the Dutch Golden Age, many cabinets of curiosities were filled with ‘Oriental’ objects. For two hundred years, Dutch archaeologists and scholars have been going to the Near East to learn more about the region’s influential civilizations, now lost in the depths of time. You will see some of their spectacular discoveries in this new display.

An essential link

The National Museum of Antiquities has amassed a large collection of Near Eastern artefacts since its establishment in 1818. Archaeologists define the Near East as extending from present-day Turkey to the Arabian Peninsula and from Lebanon to Afghanistan. The more than 18,000 objects in the museum collection span a period of more than 13,000 years. As a crossroads of cultural interchange, the Near East forms an essential link between ancient Egypt and Greco-Roman civilization. This also makes it an essential link between the other collections at the National Museum of Antiquities.

Reserve a tour online

You can reserve a tour of the Ancient Near East galleries (for up to 25 people) online or by calling +31 (0)71 516 3163.

Arrange a group visit online

You can arrange a group visit to the Ancient Near East galleries (for at least ten people, excluding visitors with a Museumkaart) online or by calling +31 (0)71 516 3163.