Thursday, August 5, 2010

Musings from a Museum

Every Thursday night between six and ten at night, the state museums of Germany open their doors to the public free of charge. This week, we took advantage of the opportunity by visiting the Pergamon Museum and the Altes Museum.

The Pergamon Museum is the most visited art museum in Germany, containing three distinct sections: the antiquity collection, the Middle East museum, and the Islamic museum. I didn't care much for the Islamic museum, but the antiquity and Middle East collections were amazing. Two of the fascinating pieces within the antiquity section were the Pergamon Altar and the Roman gate of Miletus.

The Pergamon Altar, from the 2nd Century BC, is actually a long frieze depicting the struggle of the Roman gods and giants.


The Roman Gate of Miletus

The Middle East Museum exhibition contains artifacts from Assyria, Sumeria and Babylon, including the Ishtar Gate.

The Ishtar Gate

Ishtar, the Babylonian and Sumerian goddess of fertility, love, sex, and WAR (that says a lot about the Babylonian/Sumerian idea of love) and her Assyrian counterpart, Inanna, were the favorite goddesses of one of my professors. My professor (of Women's Studies-- The Rise of the Patriarchy and the Goddess) spent hours discussing Inanna, even going so far as to perform a song she wrote about Inanna.

One thing I took away from that class was a respect for Enheduana, a princess and priestess to the goddess Inanna. She was the first recorded author, and moved from third person to first. Enheduana wrote poems and hymns and included her own feelings and wishes. Her writing provides insight into a woman's life in an unfamiliar world (Sumeria-24th century BC). So sometimes when I'm sitting at my laptop, without a sense of what to write, I think about Enheduana paving the way not just for women, but for mankind. Write what you know. Write what you feel.

I looked throughout the Middle East museum for an artifact that might have been linked to her. But my scouring turned up nothing, but I still let myself imagine that the artifacts from the temple of Inanna may have been the very same ones that hung in the temple where Enheduana acted as priestess. Maybe our eyes had locked onto the very same relief, votive, or statue only 2400 years apart. I'd like to think so.

On to less mystifying topics...

The Altes museum contained Roman and Greek statues. It was all very well and good, and probably my favorite exhibit of the four.

The most exciting part?

Look familiar?

What about now?

How about NOW?

The description on the statue reads:

"Head of a Goddess"
Acquired in Naples in 1842
Bronze, gilded, 2nd Century AD

The head of a woman with ideal facial features and a helmet originally was set onto a statue of a goddess or personification. It cannot be determined any more whom it depicted, possibly Minerva or Roma, the city goddess of Rome.

Maybe I can't declare myself Queen of the World. That's okay. Apparently, I'm already a goddess with ideal facial features. Take that Cosmo! And Minerva or Roma? I'm brilliant to boot! So brilliant (and beautiful) that they named a city after me. Not just any city, but arguably the most powerful city of the time.

If you are interested in winning the favor of the goddess, please make checks payable to:

Liane Weissenberger

and don't forget to write "Goddess" in the memo line.


  1. Oh, Enheduanna, Priestess of Inanna, I much enjoy your writing.
    'A Lesson in History.' :-)
    Each morning, my first trip is to my laptop to see what you and Doug have discovered. . . . . lovely!
    The pictures are cool. . .
    Love, Oma

  2. If you are a Goddess, then what am I?

    Enjoyed your writing and photos. They put a smile on my face.

  3. Did I forget to mention...the check is in the mail, oh Goddess of mine.


  4. My Father was right. He originally named me "CAESAR". He knew !!!

  5. So, there you have it, I am a God!
    I always knew it! :)