Jon Faine: Hello I'm Jon Faine from 774 ABC Melbourne. I'm here at Melbourne Museum and I'd like to invite you to come in with me as we have a glimpse at the new international exhibition The Wonders of Ancient Mesopotamia.
The Wonders of Ancient Mesopotamia is the most recent in a series of awe-inspiring exhibitions that the Museum's brought exclusively to Melbourne. It features more than 170 incredible artefacts from the world-renowned collection of the British Museum. Joining me from the British Museum is Sarah Collins, Curator for Early Mesopotamia.
I'm here with Sarah Collins who's the curator from the British Museum who has put this exhibition together. Tell us what’s here Sarah, and what we should look for.
Sarah Collins: Well, Mesopotamia is at the basis, the foundation of our urban civilisation today. What we see in this exhibition is about 3,000 years of ancient Mesopotamian history illustrated through objects which highlight specific themes and achievements of that long history. So we see a variety of objects from very small cylinder seals and writing tablets to large wall reliefs. It would be impossible to run chronologically through that whole time period and so I chose objects that illustrate a particular story, because we need to use the objects to tell the story. Beginning with the invention of writing in about 3300BC and going to the end of the rule of Mesopotamia before the Persian Empire took over the region on 539BC.
JF: Excavated from under centuries of sand and soil, these priceless artefacts tell the story of another age; a world of palaces and ziggurats, gods and kings, and firsts such as the invention of writing and the 60-second minute in the hour.
Now Patrick, you're the boss - the CEO of Melbourne Museum and an archaeologist yourself. So what does this exhibition mean for you?
Patrick Greene: It's the treasures discovered by archaeologists in Iraq brought to the British Museum and now transported to Melbourne which will open people's eyes to amazing civilisations.
JF: So Patrick, if you could choose anything out of the entire British Museum collection, are these the sorts of things you would put on in a special exhibition in Melbourne?
PG: Undoubtedly. And I have a special reason for this because when I was about 16 my grandmother gave me this book. It's an account of the excavations of Ur by Sir Leonard Woolley and in this book he describes the excavation of the death pits where the leaders of Ur were buried along with their retainers who were actually killed and found lying in the pits. And here we have for example, this head decoration from one of the female attendants - it's here in this exhibition. It's remarkable that we've got it here. Remember these things, they are from a thousand years before Tutankhamun. So we're talking about ancient history.
JF: Wow. Thank you for joining us at The Wonders of Ancient Mesopotamia here at the Melbourne Museum. There's a lot more information available on the website. And if you do come along, there's a terrific audio guide, where Sarah Collins from the British Museum takes me around and shows me all the way through. So, come along, enjoy - I might even see you here.