The British Museum Study Room for the Middle East collections is open 10.30–13.00 and 14.00–16.00 on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday by appointment only.
The study room is closed during December to allow for essential maintenance and care of the collections.
The Study room is located in the historic Arched room. Access is via the shop at the north end of the Egyptian Sculpture Gallery (Room 4), at the bottom of the West stairs. Members of the public can be directed by information staff or find the Arched Room through the Visit Guide, which is available throughout the Museum.
Study of cuneiform tablets
When filling out the application form, please place requests for tablets in number order to help us process your application. Please note that we can only issue 15 new cuneiform tablets to each student each day.
About the collection
There are approximately 330,000 objects in the collection of the Department of the Middle East. A representative selection of around 4,500 objects, including the most important pieces, is on display. The rest forms the study collection which ranges in size from beads to large sculptures.
All the material in the collection, whether on display or in storage, is made freely available for use by students and scholars in the departmental study room.
The study collection includes a large number of cuneiform tablets from Mesopotamia and surrounding regions, large collections of pottery from all parts of the Middle East (both complete and fragmentary), Neolithic and later chipped stone assemblages, seals of all periods, beads, jewellery, glass vessels, magical bowls, figurines, metalwork, small stone objects, pieces of sculpture and even modern plaster casts of ancient sculptures not in the Museum (particularly from Iran). There are also excavated plant remains, wood, shell, animal-bone and human remains.
The rich resources of the study collection are also made more widely accessible through handling-classes, behind-the-scenes tours, temporary displays and loans to temporary exhibitions at other institutions.