Archaeological Artifacts from the Ancient Near East
British Museum, London
I went to the British Museum on Sunday 2 June 2002, during the Jubilee weekend, it was a good time to go because the weather was very sunny and the world cup was on, and so the museum was relatively uncrowded. There were only some Asian tour groups and American tourists.
I spent the day in the Ancient Near East galleries in the West wing of the museum, taking photos of the Assyrian exhibits until my last set of camera batteries ran out. After my first photo, i got told off by a guard for using a tripod (i didn't know you are not allowed to), so the rest are taken without tripod and may be a bit blur and shaky as i took them mostly under ambient light, wihout flash.
It was very interesting to see things made by the Assyrians, the nation to whom the prophet Jonah was sent, and who are also mentioned in Nahum and several other parts of the Bible. The impression i got was that they were a very powerful and proud people, and fond of violence, which is not unlike some nations that we see today. The amount of voilence depicted in the wall carvings that decorated their palace walls would be worthy of a modern Hollywood movie. I also saw poignant scenes from the siege of Lachish, an Israelite city, depicted on bas reliefs from the palace of king Sennacherib in Nineveh-- God spared Nineveh in Jonah's time and later they went on to be the rod of his anger, which he used used to punish Israel.
My initial photographing spree at the Museum was related to some Collegiate Quarterly articles on Jonah that I and some freinds were writing, and therefore focussed on Assyrian artifacts as Jonah was sent to Assyria. I recently also went there to look at Assyrian stuff again because i was writing an essay on Nahum, and also tried to photograph a few non-Assyrian artifacts too, which are related to the life setting of Bible times. I haven't hadd time to add the newer photos to this website yet, except for the royal steward tomb inscription. I also have not had time to add descriptions and captions for all the photos here.
If you find the subjects of these photos interesting, you may wish to visit the Museum yourself. One London church (All Souls) had a good idea and organised a guided tour of the artifacts related to the Bible, it was very interesting and a good opportunity to bring friends along.
Links to relevant British Museum websites are given at the bottom of this page.
Below are links to the photos i took. Those of you who have the book may wish to refer to the chronology / time line on page 20 and page 21 of The Bible in the British Museum by T. C. Mitchell (British Museum Press, 1988). This chronology is in some cases 1 year different from the one used by the SDA BIble Commentary as the dates of some things are uncertain, but it gives you a good idea of the order of the Assyrian kings mentioned in the photos below, and when they reigned with respect to the Israelite kings. Some historical notes:
- The prophet Jonah is thought to have lived during or slightly before the reign of King Jeroboam II of Israel (possibly during the reign of king Adad-nirari III of Assyria, according to SDA Bible Commentary).
- According to the SDA BIble Commentary, the prophet Isaiah lived during the time when the Assyrian empire was at the height of its super-power status, during the reigns of the Assyrian kings Tiglath-pileser III (745-727), Shalmaneser V (727-722), Sargon II (722-705), Sennacherib (705-681), and Esarhaddon (681-669). This period saw the destruction of the northern kingdom of Israel, conquered in 723/22 BC by king Shalmaneser V and king Sargon II of Assyria (Isaiah lived in Jerusalem in the southern kingdom of Judah and would have heard of this). Isaiah also spoke regarding the Assyrian king Sennacherib's invasion of Judah during the reign of king Hezekiah of Judah.
- The prophet Nahum wrote his oracle concerning Nineveh some time between 663 and the fall of Nineveh in 612 BC, probably during the reign of Assyrian king Ashurbanipal.
- Royal Steward Tomb Inscription
British Museum Visiting Info
Opening Hours: Sat - Wed 10.00 - 17.30, Thurs - Fri 10.00 - 20.30. The Museum is closed from 24 to 26 December, 1 January and Good Friday every year.
Nearest tube stations: Holborn, Tottenham Court Road, Russell Square, Goodge St.
See also: Travel info
Admission is free.
Links to Museum web pages