Mesopotamia - Out with the Old and in with the Old


 Out with the old and in with the Old

With thanks to Penn Museum, the ROM says goodbye to the stunning “Ram in the Thicket” while looking forward to hosting the spectacular “Lyre” in Mesopotamia

Photo of the Ram in the Thicket (Toronto, Ontario, September 30, 2013) – Over Thanksgiving weekend, between enjoying family dinners and the fall foliage, one should also take the time to visit the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) and Mesopotamia: Inventing Our World, presented by RSA Insurance. In addition to more than 170 priceless objects from the British Museum, most never before seen in Canada, and several from the ROM’s own collections, two impressive objects are among those loaned to the exhibition from the holdings of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (Penn Museum, Philadelphia). Mesopotamia now says goodbye to one of these outstanding artifacts – while making room for an equally remarkable object.  

Since the exhibition’s opening, the Ram in the Thicket has proven extremely popular with visitors. A star attraction at the Penn Museum and a fixture in history books, the delicate figure is made of silver, gold foil, lapis lazuli, and shell.  The statuette is one of two nearly identical figures found by Sir Leonard Woolley in a royal tomb in the Royal Cemetery of Ur during the 1928-1929 field seasons. Its twin resides in the collections of the British Museum. The Ram in the Thicket is displayed at the ROM only until Tuesday, October 15.

Frontal view of the lyre Taking the Ram’s place in the exhibition is the Great Lyre, also loaned by Penn. On display from Friday, October 18 until the exhibition closes on January 5, 2014, the imposing figure measures 167cm in height. Comprised of gold, lapis and shell, it is dated to 2650 – 2550 BCE and was also discovered by Woolley in the Royal Cemetery of Ur. Significant parts of early Mesopotamian funerary rituals are represented in the imagery found in the four scenes on the plaque below the bull’s head  - all indicating the king’s far-reaching and prevailing control over everything to do with Mesopotamian life and death.

The Exhibition

The ROM is the sole Canadian venue to host Mesopotamia: Inventing Our World during its international tour.  Mesopotamia showcases the innovative civilization, exploring over 3,000 years of accomplishments and advancements and revealing the significance the society still has on our lives today. The exhibition made its North American debut on June 22, 2013 in the Garfield Weston Exhibition Hall on Level B2 in the ROM’s Michael Lee-Chin Crystal.  Dr. Clemens Reichel, Professor of Mesopotamian Archaeology at the University of Toronto and Associate Curator for the Ancient Near East in the ROM’s Department of World Cultures, is the Museum’s expert on ancient Mesopotamia. The University of Chicago Oriental Institute Museum and Detroit Institute of Arts have also loaned outstanding objects to the exhibition. Throughout its engagement, Mesopotamia is accompanied by an ambitious slate of relevant and provocative programs and events for both adults and families, with fall 2013 bringing a particularly rich bounty of programming offerings.

Mesopotamia is presented by the British Museum in collaboration with the Royal Ontario Museum. 

Mesopotamia: Inventing Our World at the ROM only until January 5, 2014



The Royal Ontario Museum is an agency of the Government of Ontario.  Opened in 1914, Canada’s largest museum of natural history and world cultures has more than six million objects in its collections and galleries showcasing art, archaeology and natural science. The ROM is the largest field research institution in the country, and a world leader in research areas from biodiversity, palaeontology, and earth sciences to archaeology, ethnology and visual culture - originating new information towards a global understanding of historical and modern change in culture and environment.


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