Aleppo National Museum
1) Location and history of construction
Located in the so-called “Book Square” in the middle of the city behind the Central Bank with its main entrance is on the western side. The Aleppo Museum was first an Ottoman palace in 1931 AD, and when that building was unable to host the museum’s antiquities, the archaeological authorities then decided to demolish the ottoman building and to build a new museum on its place. That step was taken in 1967 and, the new museum was inaugurated 1972. Some of the relics of the key Neolithic archeological sites of Tell Halaf ( dating back to 6th millennium BC) formed the first collection of exhibits, and the entrance to the museum was decorated with a copy of the façade of the later Aramaic royal palace in Tal Halaf ( dating back to 9th century).
2) The Museums’ department
The museum includes five departments:
- Department of Prehistory
- Department of Ancient Syrian Antiquities (from the eastern reigns and north eastern regions)
- Department of Classical Syrian antiquities
- Department of Islamic Syrian antiquities
- Department of Modern Art
1) Department of Prehistory
Located in the first hall of the ground floor of the museum. Upon entering the visitor, will see various discoveries including, flint, bone, and pottery tools and some figurines from the earliest times until the “Chalcolithic period”. The exhibits of this museum came from several sites in Syria: Palmyra, Deir Ezzor, Abu Huraira, Al-Meribet, Al-Dudariah Cave, and others, and recently a group of finds from Ein Dara, Halula, Tal Al-Abr, Tal Kashshuk from the Euphrates Basin and others were added.
1. Significant exhibits of the department include
- A clay figurine from the Muraybet site on the Euphrates depicting the “mother goddess”, being the oldest figurine discovered in the region. The figurine dates back to the pre-pottery Neolithic period (PPNA).
- A complete pottery bowl decorated with vegetal and geometric motifs, found on the site of Tal Kishchuk, it dates back to the era of Halaf.
- A clay figurine of the mother goddess figurine from the site of Tal Kashshuk also, it dates back to the era of Halaf.
2) Department of ancient Syrian antiquities
The department consist one of the most important departments of the museum, and it includes the most beautiful and most important pieces discovered in various Syrian sites. it consists of three large wings, each wing includes several small halls. Each hall was devoted to the discoveries of a specific site and followed the chronological order and displaying the geographical areas in addition to the founds of each excavations mission separately.
- The first wing includes two halls displaying the discoveries of the following sites: Tell Brak Hall, Tal Shager Bazar, Tal Aswad in addition to the halls of Mari ( Tell Hariri), Hama ( Hamath), Ugarit (Ras Shamra).
- The second wing includes the discoveries of the following sites: Tal Halaf Hall , Arslan Tash, Tal Ahmar.
- The third wing includes artifacts from multiple sites such as Tal Bweid, Tal Kashshuk, Ebla (Tell Mardikh), Tal Khuweira, Tal Ain Darah and others, and in some cases, artifacts were exhibited based on material( ex. Metal) or on function ( ex. Group of cylinder seals). Artifacts are displayed in a catching style that attracts all criteria’s of target groups.
1. Significant exhibits of the department include
- The statue of the “goddess of the fountain”, found in Mari on the Euphrates dating back to the second millennium B.C. She is shown bearing two bull crowns on her forehead, which is the well-known symbol of divinity in the ancient East, and her neck is adorned with a heavy necklace composed of several layers. Her hands are also adorned with three bracelets on each wrist, and her dress was engraved with motifs of fish swimming among the waves of water, indicating the presence of water that the goddess carries inside a spherical bowl between her hands. (Height: 141 cm, width: 49, thickness: 38 cm).
- A golden bowl, found in Ugarit on the coast, dating back to the 14th century BC. It is decorated with three rows of hunting scenes engraved on its face, and a chrysanthemum flower in its center. ( Depth: 4,7 cm, diameter: 17,5 cm)
- A bull with the head of a human, found in Ebla being, dating back to the second millennium BC. It is shown squatting with a beard of the precious stone lapis lazuli and a wooden filling, made of gold and lapis lazuli ( length: 44.9, width: 7 cm)
- An ivory plaque, from the site of Arslan Tash site in northern Syria on the Syrian-Turkish border, dating back to middle of 9th century BC. It shows two animals in the form of a winged lion with a ram’s head standing on the right and left of a tree executed in a typical geometric style. Despite the clear Egyptian influences, it was executed according to the aesthetics and techniques of the Syrian-Phoenician school of carving on ivory, which reached the height of its prosperity during that period.
3) Department of classical Syrian antiquities
The pieces presented in this section based on chronological order, therefore starting from the Greek antiquities followed by Roman and Byzantine periods, in addition to some statues from the later Achaemenid and Parthian periods. The relics of this wing consisted of archaeological excavations, recaptured artifacts, and artifacts acquired by the museum. The approximate total number of artifacts is 6000. Exhibits were placed cabinets for each type of artifact, such as pottery cupboards, pottery saddles, bronze pieces, glass, coins, etc., and some carvings and large pottery jars were freely displayed throughout the hall.
2. Significant exhibits of the department include
- A bronze oil lamp found on the site of Jendires on Syrian Turkish borders, dating back to the period between the second and first centuries BC with. It has three openings, two on the front and one on the back, representing a light-winged eagle with a hooked beak that has a chain for hanging.
- Limestone statues of a woman found on the site of Manbij, dating back to the second century AD. The woman is depicted sitting inside a mihrab or a nuch, on a chair with back and arms, wearing a loose-fitting garment, with a necklace, and in each hand a braided bracelet and a ring on her left hand, she wears a hat that shades her inside the mihrab, a large shell, and at the bottom of the mihrab there is an engraved Greek inscription believed to indicate the owner of the statue (Martama)
- A pottery jar found at the Ain Dara site and dating back to the Greek period (4th century BC). It has colored in red, with two lugs, the upper lip and the decorations are black. On one side of the jar, a scene showing two fighting figures, and on the other side there is a person holding a spear and gear. The jar is Broken, and has been restored.
4. A basalt stone monument originated from the Khanasser archeological site, dating back to first century BC. It represents warrior deities wearing a long garment that covers her legs, while she is sitting side by side on a camel, and on her head is a cap, and around her neck is a necklace and in her right hand appears a pair of bracelets, and she holds a spear with two heads, and the left hand holds a domed shield. (Length: 95 cm, Width: 53, thickness: 26 cm).
4) Department of Islamic antiquities
The department was established in 1975, according to a decree issued by the President of the Republic at the time, and it was completely renewed in 2009. The presentation depends on the function of the artifact or its material, and consists of two parts:
- The first section: following historical sequence and consisting two wings, the first extending from the Umayyad period until the Ayyubid era. While, the second includes Mamluk and Ottoman antiquities, in addition to various collections of pottery, ceramics, manuscripts, swords, metal utensils, inscriptions and engraved objects.
- Department of Islamic coins: following historical sequence of the rule of Islamic dynasties and empires starting from the Umayyad era and ending with the Ottomans. At the the level of the single Islamic era the dating system follows the yearly sequence method (the Umayyad period for example with respect to coin dinar starts from the year 79 Hijri until 132 Hijri
3. Significant exhibits of the department include
- A ceramic plate from Qal’at Ja’bar, dating back to the thirteenth century AD. Its beautifully decorated, with three circular frames, and decorations in the form of a sun ray emerging from one point that combine with the decorations of the dish to form exquisite fan shapes (diameter: 40 cm, height: 14.5 cm).
- A white limestone tomb found in the Sukari cemetery in Aleppo, dating back to 1300 AD. It is decorated with inscriptions in flowered Kufi script, the inscription includes the name of the deceased, and some Qur’anic verses (height: 190 cm, width: 107 cm, thickness: 93 cm).
- A Ceramic vessels with seven cavities, blue-colored faience and with a high base, they were used for spices (height: : 12 cm, diameter: 37 cm)
- A golden dinar or Islamic coin, inscribed on its first side phrases “in the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful”, and on the second side one can read “No other God but him”. This dinar was struck in the 110 Hijri, ( weight: 4.20 g, Diameter: 2cm)
5) Department of Modern Art
Established in 1971 it includes a collection of oil paintings by Syrian artists, especially from the city of Aleppo, representing the various artistic schools prevailing in the world, such as the realist, cubist, classical and others. Among the Syrian artists whose artworks were acquired by the museum are: Mahmoud Hammad, Naeem Ismail, Hosni Haqqi, Fateh al-Mudarres, Sami Burhan, Wahid Mughrabi, Muhammad Asani and others. The old city, the Great Mosque, Sheikh Abu Bakr, is by an unknown artist, some mention that he is the French artist Michelia who lived in Aleppo and painted these paintings in 1925.
The museum also includes a special section for the works of the late artist Fathy Mohamed. This is in addition to a few sculptures and oil paintings.
Among its most important exhibits are: “Agenda “statue by Fathy Mohamed, which he completed in Rome in 1950
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