Houses of Ancient Israel

Iron Age Israelite Home

The Houses of Ancient Israel: Domestic, Royal, Divine offers a view of life in an ancient Near Eastern agricultural society. The exhibit contains a full scale replica of an ancient Israelite home. The exhibit is arranged in terms of the buildings - the houses - associated with the different levels of that society: family dwelling, palace and temple.

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From the Nile to the Euphrates: Creating the Harvard Semitic Museum

The Harvard Semitic Museum is in the process of renewal and revitalization. As we move forward, it first seems right to return to our roots and examine where we came from. This exhibition celebrates the vision of Professor David Gordon Lyon (1852–1935), the museum’s founder and first director. Lyon assembled a rich collection of antiquities from what we now call the Middle East, including the Holy Land. (The term “Semitic” refers to the related languages and cultures of the Ancient Near East: Israelites, Phoenicians, Egyptians, Arameans, Babylonians, Arabs, and many others.) 

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Recreating the Throne of Egyptian Queen Hetepheres

An interdisciplinary collaboration at Harvard University has created a full-scale reproduction of an ancient Egyptian throne belonging to Queen Hetepheres (about 2550 BC).  The chair’s materials are based on the ancient original: cedar, bright blue faience tiles, gold foil, gesso, cordage seating, and copper. This experiment in archaeological visualization is a triumph of reconstruction because the only guidance came from thousands of tiny, jumbled fragments and 90-year old expedition records. The reproduction chair is the centerpiece of the new exhibit, Recreating the Throne of Egyptian Queen Hetepheres. 

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Monuments from Mesopotamia

Gallery closing June 1 for renovations and exhibition development.

This exhibition consists of a wonderful collection of Mesopotamian casts, including the Laws of Hammurabi, the Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III, and the Stela of Esarhaddon, offering a truly unique opportunity for visitors to experience these ancient works of art all in one gallery.

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Ancient Cyprus: The Cesnola Collection

Amphora from Ancient Cyprus

In 1865, General Luigi de Palma Cesnola, a naturalized Italian American, became the United States' consul to Cyprus, and while there, he began to acquire antiquities. While Cesnola's excavations on the island in the 1860-70s were, frankly, treasure hunts, he did draw attention to the rich antiquity of the land. When he left Cyprus, he took with him thousands of objects, which formed part of the original collection of the Metropolitan Museum in New York.

In 1995, the Semitic Museum acquired, in a three-way exchange with the Stanford University Museums and the Harvard University Art Museums, a portion of the famous Cesnola collection which Stanford had purchased from the Met. The Semitic Museum's collection comprises over 1300 ceramic vessels, lamps, figurines, stone, glass, and metal objects from Cyprus, dating from ca. 2300 BCE to 700 CE. 

Click here to view this collection online