Back to the "source" of your river:

The Four River Valley Civilizations Exhibit

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Are you interested in the Mesopotamian river valley? If so, check out our museum's following exhibits:

The Mesopotamia section of the exhibition includes exhibits on the prominent Mesopotamian city-states of Babylon, Sumer, Ur, and Larsa. City-states, ruled by kings, included a city and its surrounding countryside.


Want to know more about the kings of Mesopotamia? Be sure to check out the exhibits on kings, most notably the exhibit on Sargon the Great.

Early Mesopotamian civilizations were ruled by kings. Sargon of Akkad was the creator of the first empire, a Sumer-Akkadian empire, in Mesopotamia.
The Babylonian king Hammurabi wrote one of the earliest legal codes, the Code of Hammurabi, which outlined the rules of Babylon. Some of the punishments, such as being killed for building a "shoddy house", were very severe.

Visit the kings exhibit to learn more about the outrageous punishments the Code of Hammurabi contained!


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The code stated that were three social classes, the awilum (land-holding person), mushkenum (free citizen who does not own land), and wardum (slave). Additionally, kings and priests existed at the top of the social ladder. People could move from social class to social class through marriage or acquisition of land.


You won't want to miss the models of Mesopotamian temples! Here are a few of the temples that the exhibition features:


Have you ever wondered how to write in ancient languages? Come to our museum, admire some cuneiform tablets, and learn how to write basic cuneiform messages!


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This tablet depicts the god of the atmosphere/earth, Enlil. Mesopotamian kings would give offerings to Enlil and pray for good weather. Enlil was one of the four creators in the Mesopotamian religion.
Here is some of the Mesopotamian art that the exhibit contains:


Does ancient Egypt intrigue you? If so, swing by the Egypt section of the exhibition!

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Cities were located on the floodplain, usually close to the Nile, in order to receive goods by boat and for access to a water source.


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Some of the pharoahs from the Old, Middle, and New kingdoms that you'll learn about in the exhibits include:


Pyramids are a marvel of Egyptian architecture. At the exhibit, our curators will be sure to show you how to build pyramids of your own!


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The social structure is very similar to the Egyptian pyramids, with one pharaoh on the top and hundreds of slaves and servants on the bottom.


Ancient Egyptian religion was a system of polytheistic beliefs and rituals. It was centered around the peoples’ interactions with the deities who were believed to be in control of the forces and elements of nature.


Below you'll see some of the gods you can learn more about at the museum:

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Egyptian hieroglyphs were a formal writing system used by the ancient Egyptians that combined logographic and alphabetic elements. Egyptians used cursive hieroglyphs for religious literature on papyrus and wood.


The exhibit at the museum will teach you some basic hieroglyphs and let you try your hand at deciphering some ancient text.

Egyptian art is fascinating! Here is some of the art you'll see in the exhibit:


Perhaps India is more your style. The Indus river valley was well ahead of its time. Here's a preview of the exhibition:

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The exhibit features models of the most complex Indus valley cities, showing off the following aspects:


The caste system was developed by the Aryans. People were born into an oppressive social ladder, with priests and warriors at the top.
Come see many different sculptures and other art originating in the Indus river valley, such as the following:


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Religious activities were highly valued, as seen by the numerous monuments throughout the Valley.


At the exhibit, you'll have a chance to write your own letter and stamp it with replicas of Indus valley seals!


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Lastly, the China River Valley civilization, while not well-known, is equally as interesting as the other three. You'll learn a lot about ancient China, including:

Some cities in the Shang dynasty include the city of Shang, Anyang, Zhengzhou, and Chen-Chou. The exhibit features interactive models of these cities.
In the religion exhibit, you'll see beautiful artwork depicting their religion, such as the painting below.


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Ancient Chinese people believed in veneration, the idea that spirits of deceased ancestors continued to surround the family and still affected the world of the living.


This is a statue of the leaf god, one of the gods in the Shang dynasty religion. The Shang religion includes animism is the belief that spirits inhabit all of the objects in the natural world.


Chinese art is simply gorgeous! At the museum, you'll see some of the finest pieces, including the ones below:


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During the Shang dynasty, Chinese wrote in a language that had over 3,000 characters. Typically, they wrote on bamboo strips or oracle bone. If you spend more time in this section of the exhibit, you'll get to simulate what it feels like to write on oracle bone with such a complex language.

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The Mao Gong Ding belongs to the Zhou Dynasty. 479 characters are inscribed in the bronze, the most of any bronze unearthed, describing the instability of the Zhou regime at the time.


Have any questions? Contact PR agents Mayuri Raja, Jessica Melville, Seshu Brahma, or Harshita Dandu for more information on the museum exhibit.


Ever wonder how it would feel to be ruled by a ruthless king? In the interactive video games at the museum, you'll get to make decisions that could lead to your death, depending on your social class.