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Amman Archaeological Museum 360° virtual tour
- 1. What to see
- 2. When to see
- 3. Location
Collection of the Archaeological Museum belongs to one of the best in the country, although some artefacts like the famous Dead Sea Scrolls were moved to another museum.
Items exhibited here range from the Neolithic Age to the Ummayad period and span all areas of Jordan.
1. What to see
Here is a list of the most important items that should not be missed.
1.1. Ain-Ghazal Statues
Ain-Ghazal is a Neolithic site located along the banks of the the Zarqa River, North-East from central Amman. Discovered there in 1983-1985, these statues are dated to the Early Neolithic period (8000-6000BC) and considered to be the earliest statues ever done throughout human civilization. These human models are made from plaster and bitumen. The twin-headed statues can represent a god or goddess with, but it could also be interpreted as a human couple, or twins, perhaps worshipped as revered ancestors. Some followers of Erich von Däniken believe that these statues depict aliens.
1.2. Neolithic plastered skulls
Citizens of Jericho followed quite bizarre customs around 7000 or 6000 BC. Skulls of ancestors were kept in plaster probably to be worshipped by their descendants. Similar skulls are also to be found in British Museum.
1.3. Chalcolithic (Copper Age) child burial
Burial of infants in jars was a common custom in Mesopotamia, Egypt and Palestine at that time. The jar was generally placed under the living room floor possibly to keep the child within the family circle.
1.4. Mesha Stele
Mesha Stele is a black basalt stone erected by the 9th century BC ruler Mesha of Moab. Ancient kingdom of Moab occupied a mountainous area in present Jordan, to the east of the Dead Sea and south of the Kingdom of Ammon. Purpose of the erection of the stele was thanksgiving towards the Moabite God Chemosh for helping him to defeat Omri, the Israeli King and his son, who have been oppressing the Moab people. Soon after its rediscovery in 1868 at the site of ancient Dibon (now Dhiban), it was smashed by local people during a dispute over its ownership. Luckily a papier-mâché impression was taken by French archaeologist Charles Simon Clermont-Ganneau. He also rescued about two-third of the fragments and the reconstructed stele is now on display in Louvre Museum, Paris. 31 lines of the text were deciphered, only the last few lines were lost. This one here is the Amman Archaeological Museum is a copy of the original stele.
Significance of Mesha Stele is twofold. It is the first eye-witness account of the history of Jordan and Palestine in the 1st Millenium BC (the Bible was completed much later). It is an authentic document in Moabite language (which is related to Phoenician, Israelite, Judaean, Ammonite and Edomite), it reflects Moabite literature, culture and religion. Its account of Mesh's wars were probably taken from royal Moabite annals. The Moabite concept of kingship and the gods' intervention in the course of events reflects common ancient Near East attitudes.
1.5. Moabite anthropoid coffins
Such coffins were used from the 13th to the 7th century BC. The exhibited pieces were found in 1966 in Raghadan Palace, the Royal Court in Amman.
1.6. Ammonite limestone statues
The exhibition contains several such statues that date to the Iron Age, 8th-7th century BC.
One of them is the figure of King Yerah Azar, who was according to the inscription of the statue: "Azar, son of Zakir, son of Sanipu". Ammonite king Sanipu is known to have submitted to the Assyrian king Tiglat Pileser III in 733 BC. Pose of the figure - right arm by the side with fist clenched, left arm across the stomach holding a lotus flower - is that of royalty in Egypt, Syria and Assyria. The eyes were originally inlaid.
To the left of the statue of the king is another one which can be a figure of a soldier. Its stiff attitude and the tight mouth suggest the determination of a soldier and it is possible that its hands originally held weapons. Suprirsingly, the hair and nose suggest that the soldier was of African origin.
1.7. Nabatean Inscription
It is quite rare to see Nabatean inscriptions anywhere in Jordan. Although there is for example a tomb in Petra with such inscriptions on its façade, most tourists are unable to visit it due to its remote location. As a compensation, here is a real Nabatean text that was found hundreds of kilometres north of Petra, in Jerash during the excavations of 1931. The text explains that a statue was dedicated to Aretas IV (9 BC – 40 AD) but with the intention of honouring Rabbel, the last Nabatean king (75-100 AD).
1.8. Torso of Daedalus
The fascinating Roman statue belonged to a statuary group of Daedalus and Icarus.
1.9. Umayyad frescoes (661-750 AD)
Again something unexpected: these fragments found at Qasr Hallabat, an Arabic castle depict human faces!
2. When to see
The museum is located within Amman citadel which is open daily from 8am till 4pm between October and March, and till 7pm during April to September. Fridays it is only between 10am-4pm.