BRUSSELS, BELGIUM.- The Royal Museums of Art and History present From Gilgamesh to Zenobia - Ancient Arts from the Near East and Iran, on view through April 27, 2008. The exhibition From Gilgamesh to Zénobia offers an exceptional opportunity to underline the importance of the Near East and of Iran in the development of Western culture. Furthermore, visitors will be lucky to see once again the famous collection the Musée royaux d'Art et d'Histoire has of antiques of those regions, and which was closed to the public for a long time while the rooms were being renovated.
The pieces have been- for a great majority - chosen according to their aesthetic qualities, and a few masterpieces from the Louvre complete the ensemble. The objects shown prove how our civilization is indebted to the ancient cultures that so contributed to the development of writing, that largely participated to the evolution of accounting management, that re-launched economy, case-law and sciences, not to mention literature and religious and moral concepts. While the bronzes from Luristan (Iran) are among the masterpieces of the collections of the Musées royaux d'Art et d'Histoire and thus form an ensemble that is unique in the world, they do not take away from the remarkable cylinder seals, from the many proofs of writing and certainly not from the famous votive plaque which undoubtedly shows the Mesopotamian hero from the 4th century B.C., Gilgamesh, following his victory over the celestial bull.
The selection of pieces presented covers a period that goes all the way to the Roman conquests. The closing point of this large historical survey is the arrest of Queen Zenobia of Palmyra by Emperor Marcus Aurelius, in 272 A.D. The exhibition is made up of various sections. In «A l'ombre de Babel»-In the shade of Babel- (Iraq), one discovers Sumerian sculptures, reliefs from Assyrian palaces, metal figurines, cuneiform texts (of which one on the restoration of the Tower of Babel) and the cylinder seals previously mentioned. The section «La Perse: du village à l'empire» -Persia: from village to Empire-- (Iran) brings together ceramics and metal recipients, richly decorated and in surprising shapes, bronze weapons and armour, silver pieces from the Sassanid period, monumental reliefs and inscriptions of ziggurats and of palaces (Persepolis).