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Semitic Museum of Harvard University

6 Divinity Avenue
Cambridge, Massachusetts

Phone: 617 495 4631 -

Statement of Purpose:

Ancient and Medieval NearEastern and Egyptian archaeology.

The Semitic Museum of Harvard University is a university museum, founded in 1889 by David Gordon Lyon and Jacob H. Schiff. It houses both Harvard's collections of Near Eastern artifacts and its Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations.


Egyptian mummy cases, casts of monumental ancient Near Eastern sculpure and relief art, including the Law Code of Hammurabi of Babylon and the Black Obelisk of the Assyrian king, Esarhaddon. The Museum Shop (open during Museum hours) sells books of interest to scholars, children and general readers, as well as gift and jewelry with an ancient Near Eastern flair.


The collections comprise over 40,000 artifacts, most from museum-sponsored excavations in Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Syria, and Tunisia. The Museum uses these collections for research, teaching and public exhibition of Near Eastern archaeology, history, and culture.


The Houses of Ancient Israel: Domestic, Royal, Divine. 
The exhibit features a cut-away model of an early Israelite house showing everyday life in the 8th c. B.C.E. as the Domestic component.  The Royal and Divine sections relate to the Iron Age II, the time of the divided monarchy of Israel and Judah.

Nuzi and the Hurrians: Fragments from a Forgotten Past.
The exhibit details the daily life of the Hurrians from around 1,400 B.C.E.  living in the small town of Nuzi (northeastern Iraq). Approximately 100 objects from the Museum's collection of over 10,000 Nuzi artifacts are displayed, including cuneiform tablets, seals, glass, and pottery.

Ancient Cyprus: The Cesnola Collection. 
Featured are pottery vessels, glass, lamps, figurines and bronzes from Cyprus, dating from c. 2000 B.C.E. to 300  C.E.  Luigi Palma di Cesnola excavated in Cyprus in the mid-1800's and later became the first director of the Metropolitan Museum of New York.

10-4 M-F; 1-4 Su. Closed Saturdays and University holidays. For information, Office (617-495-4631).

Free. Groups should make advance reservations with the Museum Office (617-495-4631). The Museum is not handicapped accessible.



Funerary Bust from Palmyra (Syria) 2-3rd century B.C.

Courtesy of the Semitic Museum, Harvard University. Photo by Carl Andrews. SM# 1902.45.29.

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