DSC03038 540x361 HOT: The Wonders of Ancient Mesopotamia, Melbourne Museum, Nicholson Street, Carlton

I lived in London for years and although I liked to visit the British Museum regularly I think I saw about 1/1000th of their vast collection. So I was quite excited to hear that a slice of the museum’s Middle East artefact collection was coming to Melbourne for the Melbourne Museum‘s winter exhibition for 2012, The Wonders of Ancient Mesopotamia.

My knowledge of ancient history is sketchy and I had to dig back into my primary school projects to remember where Mesopotamia actually was. It’s a region that’s now better known as Iraq and it’s inspiring to learn something positive about the region instead of hearing constant news of war and turmoil.

And while it can be hard to relate our existence to lives lived in thousands of years ago, we owe a lot to  Mesopotamia – the birthplace of writing, mathematics, astronomy and timekeeping.

DSC03039 324x540 HOT: The Wonders of Ancient Mesopotamia, Melbourne Museum, Nicholson Street, Carlton

The exhibition is split into three sections each exploring a different ancient civilisation – Sumer, Assyria and Babylon. Given the distance between Australia and the UK I was expecting displays of little household items and shards of pottery urns, so I was most impressed with the massive carved stone tablets that have been shipped over for us.

DSC03047 353x540 HOT: The Wonders of Ancient Mesopotamia, Melbourne Museum, Nicholson Street, Carlton

For me the carved stonework was also the most interesting because Melbourne Museum had layered over multimedia video over some the works, bringing to life scenes of battle and explaining how stories unfolded in each part the sculpture.

DSC03045 426x540 HOT: The Wonders of Ancient Mesopotamia, Melbourne Museum, Nicholson Street, Carlton

For families who are visiting the exhibition there are small plaques to engage kids as part of the Family Trail. Gilgamesh, the legendary hero of Mesopotamia, guides kids with questions to ponder and things to look out for in the display cabinets.  I actually think Gilgamesh pointed out some interesting points for adults too!

DSC03049 540x492 HOT: The Wonders of Ancient Mesopotamia, Melbourne Museum, Nicholson Street, CarltonThere are also a few touch-and-feel activities though not as many as I would have hoped given that a lot of the displays were static and required reading explanatory plaques.

DSC03051 540x471 HOT: The Wonders of Ancient Mesopotamia, Melbourne Museum, Nicholson Street, Carlton

For a more multi-modal experience you can also purchase a Kids Audio Guide ($7). It’s suitable for 7-12 year olds but I suspect sometimes given the information overload often proffered by audio guides I might even enjoy the child’s version myself.

DSC03054 340x540 HOT: The Wonders of Ancient Mesopotamia, Melbourne Museum, Nicholson Street, Carlton

And finally, who could resist a fluffy lion from the gift shop!

Giveaway! Thanks to the Melbourne Museum I have a double pass to The Wonders of Ancient Mesopotamia to give away. All you have to do is leave a comment and the winner will be drawn next Wednesday 16 May. Good luck!

And the winner is…Cath! Your prize is coming to you soon.

The Wonders of Ancient MesopotamiaMelbourne Museum11 Nicholson Street, Carlton 13 11 02

Daily, 4 May – 7 Oct 2012
10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Thursday evenings, until 9:00 PM
Adults $24, concession $16, children $14, school groups $10 per student

Thank you to Melbourne Museum for inviting me to view the exhibition. 

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