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Hidden Marvels of the Louvre Museum: Part 2 - Ancient Middle East with Dr. Guillaume Durand

Hidden Marvels of the Louvre Museum: Part 2 - Ancient Middle East with Dr. Guillaume Durand


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The iconic museum of Paris, the Louvre, is especially known for its master painters such as Da Vinci, Raphael, David, Delacroix, or Géricault, as well as some ancient sculptures like the Venus of Milo or the Victory of Samothrace. Apart from these masterpieces which attract millions of tourists every year, this maze-like museum conceals stunning marvels from Antiquity and the Medieval period in its less crowded wings and rooms.

In this five-part series, featuring stand-alone but complementary lectures, join archaeologist and art historian Guillaume Durand in the discovery of these hidden marvels. Each lecture will put into historical context the artistic culture(s) covered as well as the evolution of the collection since the opening of this 12th century palace as a public gallery in 1793. Participants will come away with a thoughtful and refined understanding of Ancient and Early Medieval art in Europe and around the Mediterranean with the eye of a connoisseur.

Part 2 – Ancient Middle East / Mesopotamia
Founded by Paul-Emile Botta, chief excavator at Khorsabad / Dur-Sharrukin (Iraq) in 1843-45, the “Assyrian Museum” of the Louvre was inaugurated in 1847 displaying the giant Lamassus – human-headed winged bull – sculptures. In the late 19th and early 20th century, the collection was enriched by the agreements signed between the French Archaeological delegation and Middle Eastern states such as Syria, Lebanon, Cyprus, Palestine, and Iran. The Oriental Antiquities department  collections (directly linked to archaeological field research) today are also accumulated through donations or purchases of artworks. 

Our journey into this collection of the Louvre Museum will allow us to discover the diversity of the Mesopotamian and Iranian civilizations from their earliest, known as the Archaic Dynasties and the Sumerians (Stelae of Vultures, alabaster statuette of the dignitary Ebih-il, statuette of Gudea, and prince of Lagash), the Akkadian Empire with the stele of king Naram-Sin, the famous Babylonians illustrated by the Code of Hammurabi, the Neo-Assyrian Empire with the reliefs and sculptures from Khorsabad and Nineveh (Iraq), to the impressive Persian capitals of the Palace of Darius at Susa (Iran).

Passionate about the regions and countries at the crossroad of civilizations, Guillaume Durand, Ph.D. has long-standing expertise in Ancient art and archaeology of the Eastern Mediterranean Basin. Assistant dean and professor in archaeology and art history at the Institute for American Universities and the American College of the Mediterranean in Aix-en-Provence, France, Guillaume has traveled many times in Iran during these six past years in order to study the Persian Empires. He is also a tourist guide and lecturer in this country for French citizens.

This conversation is suitable for all ages.

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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