Babylon
Myth and reality

13 November 2008 – 15 March 2009


Exhibition closed



Supported by the Blavatnik Family Foundation

Exhibition organised by the British Museum,
the musée du Louvre and the Réunion des musées nationaux, and the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin.

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Discover the greatest city of ancient Iraq through archaeology, history and art.

For two thousand years the myth of Babylon has haunted the European imagination. The Tower of Babel and the Hanging Gardens, Belshazzar’s Feast and the Fall of Babylon have inspired artists, writers, poets, philosophers and film-makers.

Over the past two hundred years, archaeologists have slowly pieced together the ‘real’ Babylon – an imperial capital, a great centre of science, art and commerce. Since 2003, our attention has been drawn to new threats to the archaeology of Mesopotamia, modern day Iraq.

Drawing on the combined holdings of the British Museum London, the musée du Louvre and the Réunion des musées nationaux, Paris, and the Vorderasiatisches Museum Berlin, the exhibition explores the continuing dialogue between the Babylon of our imagination and the historic evidence for one of the great cities of antiquity at the moment of its climax and eclipse.

Glazed brick relief of a lion from Babylon's Processional Way. Reign of King Nebuchadnezzar II (605–562 BC). On loan from the musée du Louvre, Paris. © Photo RMN / Franck Raux.


Image: detail of a glazed brick relief of a lion from Babylon's Processional Way. Reign of King Nebuchadnezzar II (605–562 BC). On loan from the musée du Louvre, Paris. © Photo RMN / Franck Raux.


Highlights from the exhibition


The Babylonian Mind

Trace the legacy of Babylonian discoveries and ideas, including their mathematical system based on 60 and their desire to predict the future.


Teacher resources

Babylon teachers' resource pack  (pdf 2.5 Mb)

Artists and Babylon  (Powerpoint 2.3Mb)

Babylon as a heritage site  (Powerpoint 977Kb)

Objects from Ancient Babylon  (Powerpoint 910Kb)


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