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Collections: Ancient Near Eastern Art


Number of objects: more than 1,100
Historical range: 5,000 B.C.E.–651
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The ancient Near East, a region extending from the eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea to present-day Afghanistan, was home to several of the world's oldest civilizations. Favored with an abundance of natural resources, the people of this region developed metalworking and pottery-making to a level of sophistication unknown elsewhere at the time. Few museums of Asian art boast a collection of Near Eastern Art as rich as that of the Freer and Sackler galleries. The objects in this collection span several thousand years, from 5,000 B.C.E. to the advent of Islam in 651.

Highlights of the collection include:

  • A large collection of ancient Iranian ceramic vessels and sculptures ranging in date from around 5,000 B.C.E. through the Parthian period (around 140 B.C.E.–224 C.E.)
  • Over 200 seals dating from 2500 B.C.E.–651, representing a variety of shapes, materials, periods, and designs
  • Small collections of ancient Iranian bronze vessels and horse trappings, dating mostly from around 2,000–600 B.C.E.
  • An important collection of elaborately decorated silver vessels made in present-day Iran and Afghanistan during the Sasanian period (224–651 C.E.)


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