The Vorderasiatisches Museum (Near East Museum) is an archaeological museum in Berlin. It is in the basement of the south wing of the Pergamon Museum and has one of the World's largest collections of Southwest Asian art. 14 halls distributed across 2000 square meters of exhibition surface display southwest Asian culture spanning six millennia. The exhibits cover a period from the 6th millennium BCE into the time of the Muslim conquests. They originate particularly from today's states of Iraq, from Syria and from Turkey, with singular finds also from other areas. Starting with the neolithic finds, the emphasis of the collection is of finds from Sumer, Babylonia, Assyria as well as the northern Syrian-east Anatolian area.
With excavations in historically important cities like Uruk, Shuruppak, Assur, Hattusha, Tell el Amarna, Tell Halaf (Guzana), Sam'al, Toprakkale or Babylon came the ground of the museum collection. Further acquisitions come out of Nimrod, Ninive, Susa or Persepolis. The finds can among other things the advanced cultures of Sumer, Akkad, Babylonia, Assyria, the Hittites and the Aramaeans. These finds often found their way to Berlin via the German Oriental Society (Deutsche Orient-Gesellschaft), and in 1899 the Middle East department at the royal museums was created.
Then in 1929 the finds were provisionally accommodated in the Bode Museum, in the Pergamon museum, where they have been accessible to the public since 1930. During the Second World War there were hardly any war-related losses. The mobile exhibits, which was taken as art spoliage to the Soviet Union, was returned to the GDR in 1958. Already in 1953 the collection was opened again as Vorderasiatisches Museum.
Pieces of splendor of the collection are the Ishtar Gate and Procession way of Babylon, remainders of the ancient city of Babylon, parts of the Eanna temple and the Inanna temple of Karaindash from Uruk. Besides the museum accommodates an important number of Southwest Asian stamp and cylinder seals as well as cuneiform texts, notably the larger (Meissner) fragment (VAT 4105) of the Sippar tablet from the Epic of Gilgamesh. At present Beate Salje is the director of the museum. Previous directors were among others Walter Andrae, Gerhard Rudolf Meyer, Liane Jakob Rust and Evelyn Klengel Brandt.