Introducing Sarah Collins


Hello, my name is Sarah Collins. I'm Curator for Early Mesopotamia in the Middle East Department of the British Museum, and I'm working with Melbourne Museum to create The Wonders of Ancient Mesopotamia exhibition.

I'm here, deep in the basement of the British Museum in one of our storage areas where we're preparing the objects for their journey to Melbourne. Some of the objects are here behind me.

Because the objects are thousands of years old, we have to very carefully pack them in special containers and crates to ensure that they're protected throughout their journey and then I and a specialist team will travel with the objects all the way to Melbourne and we'll install the exhibition.

The objects that I've chosen for this exhibition come from the very heart of Mesopotamia, from the region which today we know as Iraq. The history of ancient Mesopotamia is extremely long and complex; it lasts over many thousands of years. The objects in this exhibition have been chosen to illustrate about 3,000 years of that long history. I'm really excited to have this opportunity to be able to display them in Melbourne.

There's a wide variety of objects ranging from tiny seals to huge wall reliefs and these illustrate key episodes and significant achievements in Mesopotamian history; achievements which are all part of our shared human history.

One of my favourite objects is this monument. I love the colours of the stone, this wonderful multi-coloured stone, and the carving of the figure in very high relief and the beautiful cuneiform inscription. It also sums up three main Mesopotamian cultures, which this exhibition focuses on, which are Sumer, Babylon and Assyria.

The Assyrian king of 7th century BC, Ashurbanipal, had this monument made to record his building activities in Babylon. But actually, it shows him in a pose which imitates, deliberately imitates, Sumerian kings who ruled more than a thousand years before him. He's shown holding a basket of building materials on his head as if he is personally carrying out the construction.

Ashurbanipal was really aware of the importance of his history and I like to think that if today he knew how we were admiring his monuments and learning about his history, that he would be really proud.

About this Video

Curator Sarah Collins talks about selecting the objects for The Wonders of Ancient Mesopotamia exhibition.
Length: 02:48