Wirth Gallery of the Middle East | Level 3

  • Wirth Gallery of the Middle East
    The ROM's Striding Lion was found at the throne room façade of the palace of King Nebuchadnezzar II. Trace the history of the civilization that produced this legendary Babylonian king, whose accomplishments include the building of the Tower of Babel.
  • Wirth Gallery of the Middle East
    Unlike other materials, pottery cannot rot or be melted down for re-use. Generally the most common archaeological find, pottery tells us much about artistic style and influence. Examine our progressive display of pottery finds from the region, dating from the 4th millennium BC to the 19th century AD.
  • Wirth Gallery of the Middle East
    Jericho skulls are rare, and date back to the region's Neolithic Period culture. Thought to represent an early form of ancestor worship, heads were removed from the body after initial burial, filled with plaster and painted, and then reverently re-buried underneath the floors in private houses. The ROM's Jericho skull is one of only a few known to exist in the world!
  • Wirth Gallery of the Middle East
    The first true written alphabet was born in the ancient Middle East, and its progression from Babylonian cuneiform tablets to the elegance of Arabic script is chronicled with objects such as this beautiful mediaeval manuscript of a 15th-century Qur'an from Egypt.
  • Wirth Gallery of the Middle East
    The strength and majesty of the now-extinct Asian lion were attributes associated with the region's royalty, and combat with a lion gave a king great prestige. Many objects in the gallery invite visitors to explore the different ways the lion motif was represented in Mesopotamian culture.
  • Wirth Gallery of the Middle East
    Used to fill a space with pleasant scent, incense burners belonged in every well-to-do household. This one, made of bronze in Eastern Iran (12th-13th centuries) displays various types of decoration: bands with inscriptions, arabesque ornaments in medallions and the figure of a bird perched on top of the “hood.”

The Cradle of Civilization.

In an area of the Middle East known as the Fertile Crescent, where the Tigris and Euphrates rivers meet, ancient societies flourished and made enormous advances in culture and technology. These advances, in areas such as writing, mathematics, law, medicine and religion, were so significant they have become the foundations for many of the customs we practise today.

Trace the development of script and writing over almost 4,000 years, from its beginnings as ancient cuneiform tablets to exquisite Arabic script. Follow the evolution of craftsmanship beyond utility to exceptional beauty with artifacts made of wood, metal, stone and glass. Examine how expressions of faith developed through ancient practices, represented by Palaeolithic clay figures, ancient Sumerian worshipper statuettes, Jewish ossuaries, and Christian and Islamic religious objects.

Examine the legacies left by the ancient Babylonians, Sumerians, Assyrians and others from the region in a gallery that explores a heritage spanning the Palaeolithic Age to the 20th century AD.

About the Gallery


More than 1,000 artifacts from the Middle East are presented in thematic displays of Documents & Writing, Technology, Spirituality & Religion, Art in Life, and Arms & Armour.


The gallery focuses on a geographic part of the Middle East, referred to as the Fertile Crescent, that stretches from the Eastern Mediterranean and Iraq to Iran and the Arabian Peninsula.


From the Palaeolithic Age to AD 1900.

ROM Staff

Assistant Curator (Retired)

Kate Cooper

Research Associate (Greek & Roman)

Authored by: Noman Siddiqui