I’d just finished my neurology ward tour and the rest of my duty in our hospital. My Nikon D90 camera and its incredible Nikkor AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3G ED VR lens were in my car. “I have plenty of time, what to do?” I asked myself. After a while, I decided to visit the Sulaymaniyah (Slemani) Museum. How about taking some pictures there and publishing them on Ancient History Encyclopedia?
The Sulaymaniyah Museum is the second largest museum in Iraq (after the Iraqi Museum in Baghdad) and was founded in the year 1961 CE. It lies within the heart of the city of Sulaymaniyah and looks over Salim Street, one of the main streets in the city. What a surprise! A lot of school children are about to enter the museum.
There are no tickets and the entry is free (similar to the British Museum). Once you enter the museum’s building, the main halls are straight ahead. The very first thing you will encounter is a replica of the rock-relief from the entry into the cave of Kiz Kappan, which is flanked by replicas of two mountainous rock-reliefs of Rabana and Meer Quli; these three replicas represent historical landmarks within the Governorate of Sulaymaniyah.
Turn right. You will enter a small hall which was reconstructed recently by UNESCO. This hall contains artifacts that date back from the pre-historic era to the Abbasid Islamic period. Many of the main and most important of the museum’s artifacts are displayed here.
Next, and behind this hall, the museum is divided into two long halls, connected by a short and open lecture hall. The artifacts are displayed according to their chronology within Mesopotamian history (irrespective of their location within the Fertile Crescent) in separate displaying cases. Some artifacts belonged to ancient local city-states within modern-day Iraqi Kurdistan. We have not studied these cities or their findings in our school history books (for example, Simurrum kingdom)! The history of these cities was deliberately overlooked by Saddam’s regime, which concentrated on Assyrian and southern Mesopotamian history.
I saw many artifacts which were labeled with “IM”; this means that these belong to the Iraqi Museum! I then understood that they were on temporary loan to the museum. If you check out each and every item, you will finish the visit within one working day. It is not that large of a museum, though.
I shot innumerable pics and then met my friend, Mr. Hashim Hama Abdulla, the director of the museum. He took me to a private room where they restore and reconstruct recently excavated artifacts. I saw a woman who was polishing a newly excavated dish. Another woman was reconstructing an ancient necklace. Mr. Abdullah then took me to another room where a foreign archaeologist was studying the cuneiform inscriptions on several newly acquired clay tablets. I held some of the tablets in my hands! What a sensation and I thought, what good luck I have. It was indescribable!
In spite of the turbulent circumstances Iraq is currently experiencing, the Sulaymaniyah Museum stands out among other museums in Iraq in that it is the only easily accessible museum for foreign and local tourists, all the time, with no constraints. It has a very friendly environment and very cooperative employees. Each artifact has a tag and a description in Arabic, Kurdish, and English. It has no Wifi/internet access for visitors, no café or restaurant inside the museum, and its hours are from 9 AM to 1 PM, Sunday to Thursday.
Each month, the museum obtains new acquisitions, thanks to the very generous funding and continuous support of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and one of its leaders, Mrs. Hero Talabani, wife of the former Iraqi president, Mr. Jalal Talabani. Within the Sulaymaniyah Museum, you will see, touch, and smell the scent of history! This is a place that you must visit, if you travel to Iraqi Kurdistan.
Old Babylonian Foundation Cones
Paikuli Tower Blocks
Neo-Sumerian Golden Earrings
Stela of Iddi-sin
Hurrian Incense Burner
Old Babylonian Clay Tablet
By Osama S. M. Amin
Osama graduated from Baghdad University, College of Medicine and was the valedictorian student in internal medicine. He got membership diplomas of the Royal Colleges of Physicians of Ireland (MRCPI) and Glasgow (MRCP Glasg) and then became Board-certified in neurology. Osama is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians (FACP), Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow (FRCP Glasg), Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh (FRCP Edin), Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland (FRCPI), Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of London FRCP Lond), and Fellow of the Stroke Council of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association (FAHA). Currently, he is a Clinical Associate Professor at the Clinical School of the International Medical University, Malaysia. Osama published more than 50 articles in international peer-reviewed neurology journals and 5 self-assessment books for the membership diploma of the Royal Colleges of Physicians of the United Kingdom and Ireland. He is an associate editor, guest editor, reviewer and former editor-in-chief in several international peer-reviewed internal medicine and neurology journals. Osama is very interested in Mesopotamian history and always tries to take photos of archaeological sites and artifacts in museums, both in Iraq and around the world. He is a contributor/team member of "Medical MasterClass," the online educational arm of the Royal College of Physicians of London, UK.