Preserving Ancient Armenian Heritage: The Inscriptions of the Kings of Van in Germany’s Pergamon Museum

The open-air museum that is Armenia boasts a rich tapestry of ancient monuments, many of which harken back to the Kingdom of Van, one of antiquity’s greatest civilizations. While a considerable amount of these artifacts are displayed within Armenia’s borders, such as at the Yerevan Museum of Erebuni, some have found their homes in museums across the world, with Germany being a prominent example.

Located in Berlin, on the Museum Island on the River Spree, stands the Pergamon Museum, a bastion of ancient history named after the ancient city of Pergamon. Upon entering this prestigious museum, visitors are greeted by the majestic arch of the Ishtar Gate, reconstructed meticulously from bricks and details excavated from the city ruins. Towering at an impressive 15 meters, this gate was but one of the many entrances on the procession road to Esagila, the temple of the city’s patron god, Marduk.

Although the Pergamon Altar, another iconic monument housed in the museum, is temporarily closed for reconstruction, visitors can still marvel at the grandeur of its frieze, featuring numerous scenes from Greek mythology.

However, nestled within the museum lies a corner that particularly resonates with Armenians. Adjacent to the rooms exhibiting cultural monuments of ancient Assyria is a modest hall dedicated to the Kingdom of Van, Assyria’s perpetual adversary.

Within this hall stand three stone inscriptions carved by the most renowned Urartian kings – Menua, Sarduri II, and Rus II. Particularly prominent is the cuneiform script of King Menua, a powerful ruler known for his successful resistance against aggressive Assyria. This relic not only embodies the resilience of the Kingdom of Van but also provides an invaluable glimpse into the region’s ancient history.

Complementing these inscriptions is a physical map of the Kingdom of Van and a brief overview of its history, offering visitors an immersive journey into the past. Through these artifacts, the Pergamon Museum preserves and highlights the heritage of the ancient Armenian civilization, reminding us of our shared and interconnected history.

Vigen Avetisyan based on article

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