Bible Lands Museum


Attempting to join the dots between archaeological finds and events related in the Bible, this sizeable museum has one of the largest private collections of ancient Near Eastern artefacts, from a neo-Syrian cylindrical seal circa 730–600 BCE to everyday household items. The old-fashioned galleries are laid out chronologically and geographically; a five-year plan calls for a full-scale modernisation and renovation. Use the audio guide or, better yet, join the free guided tours between Sunday and Friday (check the website for times; only two are in English).

Among the most interesting displays are the Egyptian collection, including richly decorated sarcophagi and blue-glazed jewellery, Syrian fertility figures from the Neolithic period and a vessel whose carved lettering enabled historians to unlock cuneiform scripts. Others worth checking out: 4th- and 5th-century Babylonian 'magical books' written in a spiral pattern (in Aramaic and Syriac) meant to 'capture demons'; a tiny model chariot (2000 BCE) found in southern Anatolia; and a statue of Ramses II, minus his face, dated to the time of the biblical exodus.

The youngest item in the collection is a Roman 4th-century marble sarcophagus with elaborately detailed carvings of New and Old Testament scenes.

Check out the long-running multimedia exhibition in the basement on the importance of the colour of blue in Jewish and Israeli history.

The museum was founded by Dr Elie Borowski, a Polish-born academic who fought the Nazis in Germany and later moved to Switzerland, where he became known as a leading dealer of antiquarian art. Borowski founded this museum so that biblical history and the history of the ancient Near East could be studied, understood and appreciated by peoples of different faiths. The permanent exhibition, which was his private collection of ancient Near Eastern art, spans the period from earliest civilisation to the early Christian era.

Children under 18 are given free entrance on Saturday and Wednesday afternoons. Public lectures take place every Wednesday at 7.30pm.

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