There's more in common between ancient Israel and China than you may know

An exhibit featuring dozens of artifacts from various museums around Israel, China as well as the Yale Peabody Museum in the United States, to open in late October 2018.

October 15, 2018 17:45
1 minute read.
Bible Lands Museum Gallery

Bible Lands Museum Gallery 311. (photo credit: Haim Zach)


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Israel and China are growing ever closer, as business, diplomatic and tourism connections between the two modern states continue unabated.

But as a new exhibit shows, even in antiquity, China and the ancient Israelites shared a great deal.

“Bronze Age Mesopotamia and the Chengdu Plain,” opening October 22 at the Sichuan University Museum in Chengu, China, compares the similarities of the two ancient civilizations, separated by more than 5,000 km.

The exhibit, the first ever joint cultural project involving antiquities from China and Israel, shows that while the two Bronze Age civilizations developed on opposite sides of the Asian continent, they had more commonalities than differences. Both Mesopotamia and the Chengdu Valley developed rich urban cultures that flourished near rivers, and came to control the smaller cities around them. Both constructed complex government and religious establishments, featuring royal temples and palaces.

Beyond creating common architectural feats and societal structures, both civilizations developed forms of writing to communicate with and control their territories.

The exhibit features 15 ancient religious artifacts from the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem and dozens more from various museums around China as well as from Yale University's Peabody Museum. The unique assemblage – dating from between 3300 and 1200 BCE – icludes cuneiform tablets, cylinder seals and a statuette made of lapis lazuli from Afghanistan.

According to the Bible Lands Museum, by fostering a dialogue between different cultures and religions of ancient Asia, the exhibit  also forges links of cultural cooperation between contemporary Israel and China.

“The BLMJ is a universal center of education and culture, and we are excited to take part in the first international exhibition dedicated to ancient civilizations in the Sichuan University Museum,” said the Bible Lands Museum in a press release.

The exhibit will remain open for six months.

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