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Europe and the Near East Collections

The Field Museum’s European collections offer visitors and scholars a view of daily life and death in ancient Europe and the Near East. Purchased in the 1890s, the Italy collection includes fresco paintings, fine bronzes and jewelry, and household objects from the Roman villas of Boscoreale, a site near doomed Pompeii. Complete Etruscan tomb groups like the Museum’s are rare and of great scientific and educational value.

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The Field Museum’s European collections offer visitors and scholars a view of daily life and death in ancient Europe and the Near East. Purchased in the 1890s, the Italy collection includes fresco paintings, fine bronzes and jewelry, and household objects from the Roman villas of Boscoreale, a site near doomed Pompeii. Complete Etruscan tomb groups like the Museum’s are rare and of great scientific and educational value. Lying unstudied in the collections since the 1920s, remains of animals used for food at Greek, Roman, and other Mediterranean settlements now clue archaeozoologists to the interactions of ancient peoples with their environments. Stone and bone tools from prehistoric France, as well as engraved and painted art objects, are additional pieces in the puzzle of evolving human ecology. They, too, represent one of the best collections of its kind in the United States. Our collections from ancient Egypt and the famous city of Kish in Mesopotamia are unprecedented in the United States.

Italy Collection
With only 1,360 Roman and Etruscan objects (of which 200 are replicas) in its collection, the Museum might appear to not be a significant archaeological repository of Classical material. In fact, the Museum's 280 Etruscan objects represent several complete tomb groups and are, therefore, of great scientific and educational significance. Many of the genuine Roman objects come from the site of Boscoreale near Pompeii and include important fresco paintings, fine bronzes and jewelry, and a good selection of well-preserved objects illustrating everyday life during the Roman period. All were purchased in Italy in the 1890s.

Western Europe Prehistory Collection
The second major component of the Museum's European holdings is the Old World Prehistory collection from Western Europe comprised of 45,700 objects. These were acquired by Henry Field in the late 1920s for the Museum's Old World Prehistory Hall. The French prehistoric materials, including stone and bone tools, and artifacts of materials decorated by engraving or painting, constitute a particularly valuable part of the collection and are of considerable scholarly interest.

Kish Collection
The ancient city of Kish was occupied from at least as early as 3200 B.C. through the 7th century A.D. Located on the floodplain of the Euphrates River eighty kilometers south of modern Baghdad, the city held an extraordinary position during the formative periods of Mesopotamian history. At that time, it seems to have been the only important city in the northern part of the alluvium, while there were several major centers in the south. The ancient Mesopotamians regarded Kish as the first city to which "kingship descended from heaven" after the great flood that had destroyed the world. During the third millennium B.C., rule over Kish implied dominance over the entire northern part of the plain, and the title "King of Kish" bestowed prestige analogous to that of the medieval "Holy Roman Emperor." From 1923 through 1933, joint archaeological expeditions of The Field Museum of Natural History and Oxford University explored many of the twenty-four-square-kilometer site's forty mounds, uncovering significant evidence of Kish's extremely early urbanization and its prominence as a dominant regional polity.

Egypt Archaeological Collection
This collection contains approximately 3,490 objects. Edward E. Ayer began to assemble the Museum's Egyptian collections in Cairo and Alexandria in 1894. His purchases included funerary objects, such as mummies, coffins, ushabtis, Books of the Dead and canopic jars; wood, stone and bronze images; and fragments of stone reliefs from the period of the Middle Kingdom through the Roman era. In 1907-8 Ayer added two intact chapel rooms from the tombs of Unis-ankh and Netcher-user to the Museum's collections. Pre-dynastic collections of pottery and stone vessels, flints, and offering objects from the early to late periods were donated to the Museum by Sir William M. Flinders Petrie, H.W. Seton-Karr, and Gertrude Caton Thompson. In 1944, the Egypt collection was further enhanced through the gift of the Gurley collection, which consisted of jewelry, scarabs, canopic jars, ushabtis, and statuettes. Notable within the collection is the funerary boat of Sen-Wosret, one of only six known to be outside of Egypt. This comprehensive Egypt collection also includes Coptic textiles, stone, bronze, and pottery pieces.


Image above: Detail of a gold Etruscan necklace from Italy, c.800-500 BC. This necklace can be seen in the Grainger Hall of Gems at the museum. Catalog Number 2262.239187. © The Field Museum, A114273_02d, Photographer John Weinstein.

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Collections

The ancient city of Kish was occupied from at least as early as 3200 B.C. through the 7th century A.D. From 1923 through 1933, joint archaeological expeditions of The Field Museum of Natural History and Oxford University explored many of the twenty-four-square-kilometer...
The Field Museum’s European collections offer visitors and scholars a view of daily life--and death--in the Classical world of the Mediterranean and in prehistoric Europe.
For six short months in 1893, Jackson Park in Chicago was home to one of the largest and most spectacular expositions of the 19th Century. Near the close of the Fair, The Field Columbian Museum (now The Field Museum) was founded.