This is Hackescher Markt, the market square was originally laid out in 1750 and the area around here is absolutely awash with places to eat and small independent shops and is apparently a pretty 'in place' these days. On the right you can see the entrance to the railway station and the railway itself runs behind the top of the ornate brick facade which I found rather attractive.
The Ishtar Gate was the main entrance to the city of Babylon (in what is now Iraq) and was built by King Nebuchadnezzar around 575BC - or perhaps I should say was built for him, I rather doubt that he had anything to do with the actual construction:) It was excavated by the German archaeologist Robert Koldewey between 1902 and 1914 and the material was brought back to Germany and used to make a partial reconstruction. It was originally a double gate but it was so enormous (over 38 feet high) that only the smaller frontal part is on display, the second gate is in storage. The Pergamon is undergoing extensive refurbishment at the moment so parts of it were closed and there was a lot of background scaffolding etc visible that wouldn't normally be seen.
The relief above is carved on basalt and depicts a lion hunt. It dates from about 750BC and comes from the palace of Kapara in Tell Halaf , north east Syria. By the 9th century BC this area had become part of the Assyrian Empire. Does anyone else remember learning the lines from Lord Byron's poem?
The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold
And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold
And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea
When the blue waves roll nightly on deep Galilee
I must have learned that when I was about 9 or 10 years old and I've never forgotten it.
I think this was probably my favourite of all the exhibits. The jewellery, made of gold, carnelian and lapis lazuli, was found in the Royal Graves of the ancient city of Ur and dates from about 2600BC. It was worn by the female attendants of Queen Puabi with whom they were buried. When the Queen died her attendants died with her and I don't think they asked for volunteers! The Royal Graves were excavated by Sir Leonard Woolley in the 1920s and the jewellery that the Queen herself was buried with is even more stunning but I believe that you will have to visit the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology to see it. Ur was a city in ancient Mesopotamia which is now southern Iraq. I would really love to travel in Iraq and Syria and visit some of the wonderful archaeological sites that are there though there isn't much chance of that at present.