Near Eastern Collection

Assyrian archers relief

Assyrian archers carved on limestone from Ninevah

The Nicholson Museum’s collection of Near Eastern artefacts represents many of the great cities and civilisations that flourished along the Levantine coast, across Mesopotamia and through to Pakistan and India. The collection spans centuries of culture from the Prehistoric Natufian period to the Roman era.

The Near Eastern collection began with just a handful of artefacts from Ur, donated by the British Museum in 1926. This was greatly expanded upon in the mid 20th century by the acquisition program of the curators A.D. Trendall and his successor James Stewart. Both curators wrote countless letters to museums and government agencies around the world requesting representative samples of artefacts to ensure the Nicholson Museum’s holdings reflected the diversity of this expansive region. The University of Sydney also contributed financially to archaeological excavations and projects in the Near East, most notably Dame Kathleen Kenyon’s excavations at Jericho. In return for the University's support the Nicholson Museum received a consignment of objects at the end of each season including full tomb groups from the Bronze Age and rare finds such as our Neolithic over plastered skull. Other items have been acquired through generous donations of individual archaeologists, including Sir Leonard Woolley and Sir Flinders Petrie, as well as from archaeological institutes, museums and private donors.

Significant artefacts from the Near Eastern collection are currently on display as a part of our ongoing exhibition Tombs, Tells and Temples: The Archaeology of the Near East

Highlights from the collection