Many are captivated with tombs and mummies, maybe it’s due to the popular movies of Indiana Jones. Here’s a great place to see the real thing in person. Surprisingly moderate sized Harvard Semitic Museum has a world-class collection of remarkable objects from the ancient Near East. The museum is devoted to the history of cultures related to Semitic languages.
It was founded in 1889 and moved to its present Cambridge location in 1903. Harvard Semitic Museum is at 8 Divinity Street on the Harvard University campus. It is across the street from Harvard Museum of Natural History and north of Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology.
The museum’s early achievements were the first scientific excavations in Samaria in 1907-1912, with additional digging at Nuzi and Tell el-Khaleifeh in Sinai. Its artifacts are the result of museum-sponsored excavations in Cyprus, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, and Tunisia.
The museum’s 40,000 artifacts include Egyptian mummy sarcophagi, pottery, cuneiform tablets, sculpture, coins, and cylinder seals. The tablets contain the earliest forms of writing. There is a full-scale replica of ancient Iron Age Israelite home. Life-sized casts of famous Mesopotamian monuments of the Black obelisk of Shalmaneser III, the Stele of Esarhaddon, and the Laws of Hammurabi.
Current museum exhibitions are the following:
The Houses of Ancient Israel
This provides a view of life in an ancient Near Eastern agricultural society.
Nuzi and the Hurrians,
The exhibit of 100 objects is a view into the forgotten past with a range of objects from pottery to weapons.
Egypt: Magic and the Afterlife
The collection including coffins and amulets give the Egyptian view of life after death.
The museum collection of over 1300 objects from Cyprus, dating from 2300 BCE to 700 CE.
Monuments from Mesopotamia
The collection of casts offers a unique opportunity to view works of art from the ancient world in one exhibit.
Semitic languages originated in the Near East currently spoken by over 470 million people across Asia and North Africa. They include Arabic, Amharic, Hebrew, Tigrinya and Aramaic. It appears the earliest written form was a script derived from Sumerian cuneiform of Mesopotamia the middle of the third millennium BC.
Monday – Friday 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Sunday 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM
6 Divinity Avenue
Cambridge is a city of 105,162 population, north of Boston across the Charles River. It was named in honor of England’s University of Cambridge with its own well known Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Harvard University at the junction of Cambridge Street and Massachusetts Avenue. It was founded in 1636 is the oldest institution of higher learning in the country.
Harvard Semitic Museum is a 6 hour drive of 390 miles from Rochester NY.
Drive east on I-90 passing Albany into the state of Massachusetts direct to Cambridge MA. Follow signs to Harvard Semitic Museum.
A visitor in June 2013 makes this comment of their tour.
“Enjoy these amazing artifacts in this hidden gem.”