Department of the Middle East

Glass jarThe Department of the Middle East covers the ancient and contemporary civilisations and cultures of the Middle East from the Neolithic period until the present.

There is a wide range of archaeological material and ancient art from Mesopotamia (Iraq); Iran; the Levant (Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Israel); Anatolia (Turkey); Arabia; Central Asia and the Caucasus. Highlights of the collection include The Ram in a ThicketAssyrian reliefs, treasure from the Royal Cemetery of Ur, the Oxus Treasure, Phoenician ivories and the library of cuneiform tablets from Nineveh.

The Islamic collection includes archaeological assemblages from Iraq, Iran and Egypt as well as collections of inlaid metalwork from medieval Iran, Syria and Egypt and Iznik ceramics from Turkey. In addition to Persian, Turkish and Mughal Indian works on paper, the department holds a major collection of contemporary art from
the Middle East.

The department has an active fieldwork policy, and is currently involved in excavations across the Middle East. All material in the collection is made available to researchers in the Arched Room, one of the few rooms in the British Museum to have retained its Victorian splendour.

The department has a group of supporters known as the Friends of the Middle East, and a patrons group which supports the acquisition of Modern and Contemporary Middle eastern art (CaMMEA).