National Museum of Damascus

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National Museum of Damascus
المتحف الوطني بدمشق
The façade, which was the gateway to Qasr al-Heer al-Gharbi
National Museum of Damascus is located in Damascus
National Museum of Damascus
Location in Damascus
National Museum of Damascus is located in Syria
National Museum of Damascus
National Museum of Damascus (Syria)
Established 1979
Location Damascus, Syria
Coordinates 33°30′45″N 36°17′24″E / 33.512572°N 36.290044°E / 33.512572; 36.290044

The National Museum of Damascus (Arabic: المتحف الوطني بدمشق‎) is a museum in the heart of Damascus, Syria, It is the country's national museum as well as its largest. This museum contains a world-class archaeological and historical collection which includes but is not limited to artifacts from the Neolithic, Paleolithic, Classical, Byzantine, Arab and Ottoman periods as well as modern and contemporary art. The façade of the museum is fragments of the twin-towered gateway of Qasr al Heir.

The rooms dedicated to Ugarit contains small clay tablets of what is known to be the oldest Alphabet in the world, the Ugaritic Alphabet. It also contains the ivory head of an unknown Ugaritan royal, a collection of Ugaritic seals, and Mycenaean pottery imported from Greece. Another room which is devoted to Mari, Syrian Bronze Age city on the Euphrates, contains the 3rd Millennium treasure of King Cansud. Aside from exhibits from ancient pre-Classical Syria, the west wing contains rooms exhibiting pottery, sculptures and glassware ranging from the Phoenicians to the classical periods. Classical statues carved in ivory, bronze, and marble, which were found at Palmyra, Latakia, Bosra are also exhibited, next to that room lies the Palmyra room which is dedicated to Palmyra, the Roman colonia in the Syrian desert which flourished in the 3rd century due to its strategic importance and location on the Silk road.

The most popular part of the museum is the 2nd century AD Synagogue that has been reconstructed. Its walls are covered with Talmudic insriptions and paintings of scenes from the Scriptures.


The National Museum of Damascus lies in the West of the City, between the Damascus University and the Tekkiye Mosque Complex, at the Shoukry Al-Qouwatly street.


The then-small museum was founded in 1919 under the supervision of the Syrian Ministry of Education at Madrasseh al Adiliyeh.[1][2]

Although the museum's collection was rather small and most of it was kept at Madrasseh al-Adiliyeh, the museum gradually increased in size and the discovery of the Umayyad palace of Qasr al-Hayr al-Gharbi in the Syrian desert in 1936 created plans to improve the museum. A building located next to Al-Takiyya al-Sulaymaniya was chosen for the establishment of the National Museum of Damascus.[2]

The discovery of Qasr Al-Hayr Al-Gharbi added new attention to the Islamic period, so the Directors of Antiquities decided to incorporate the palace into the museum. The front façade of the palace was transported to Damascus before being carefully reconstructed as the National Museum's main entrance. The process took several years and the official opening was celebrated in 1950.[2]

New halls and wings were added to the museum as its collection grew. In 1953, a three-storey wing was added to display more exhibits of the Islamic period, as well as contemporary Syrian art.[2]

A new lecture hall and a library were added in 1963.[2] The lecture hall was furnished as a 19th-century Ottoman-era Damascene reception hall, lavishly decorated and ornamented as most Damascene houses were.[2]

Later additions took place in 1974 to house exhibits from the Palaeolithic period. The most recent addition took place in 2004, when the temporary exhibition wing was reworked to display Neolithic antiquities.[2]


The facade of the museum is built from the front of an Islamic palace, which was transferred and restored as the museum's main entrance. The Museum's unique findings are: Restorations of the Dura Europos Synagogue from the 3rd century AD; The hypogeum of Yarhai from Palmyra, dating to 108 AD; And the façade and frescoes of Qasr Al-Hayr al Gharbi, which dates back to the 8th century and lies 80 km south of Palmyra. Many other important historical artifacts can be found in various wings; such as the world's first alphabet from Ugarit and many Roman era mosaics. The exhibits are organised into 5 wings;

Prehistoric Age

Remains and skeletons from different Stone-Age periods, most notably the neolitihic period, as well as objects and finds discovered in the basin of the Orontes River, the Euphrates and Tell Ramad in southwestern Syria.

Ancient Syria

Many Exhibits from ancient sites such as Ebla, Mari, Ugarit and Tell Halaf. The most important of these is an Ugaritan tablet, on which is the world's first Alphabet. Other findings include tablets and amulets from Ugari, Ebla and Mari, and sculptures from Tell Halaf.

Classical Age

The Hypogeum of Yarhai, found in Palmyra is one of the best examples of Palmyrene funerary art

This wing contains classical Syrian artefacts. The displays include sculptures, marble and stone sarcophagi, mosaics, jewelry and coins from the Seleucid, Roman and Byzantine periods. The findings are from sites such as Palmyra, Dura Europos, Mount Druze, and more.

The most important exhibits from the classical era include the 3rd century underground Palmyrene tomb, the Hypogeum of Yarhai, considered one of the best examples of Palmyrene funerary art. The hypogeum was originally found in Palmyra's Valley of the Tombs but it was later excavated and moved to the museum in 1935.[3]

The hypogeum currently is found in the underground part of the museum, and can be reached after taking the stairs from room 15.[3]

There are also many pieces of Palmyrene funerary reliefs in the museum.

Islamic Age

The facade of an Islamic palace has been moved and reconstructed as the museum's main entrance. Some of the contents of the palace are also located in the museum, including carvings.

It also contains many exhibits made of glass and metal, as well as coins, from different periods of Islamic History. There are also scriptures from the Umayyad era to the Ottomans.

There is also a hall containing an example of a traditional Damascene home, which was obtained from an 18th-century house in the Old City of Damascus.

There is a library adjacent to this section.


Contains contemporary works of artists from Syria, the Arab world, and other countries.[1]





Scenes from the Dura-Europos synagogue

See also


  1. ^ a b "The National Museum of Damascus". 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "National Museum of Damascus - Discover Islamic Art". 
  3. ^ a b Beattie, Andrew; Pepper, Timothy (2001). The Rough Guide to Syria. ISBN 9781858287188. 
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