Rescued Gods: Travelling Through Time and Destruction


An auction of photography was held at the Theodor Wiegand Hall of the Pergamon Museum in Berlin last August 14. The photos, although ‘digital’ copies, are in themselves priceless images. Want to know why? Read on.

Max von Oppenheim by the Euphrates, 1899 © Max Freiherr von Oppenheim-Stiftung, Köln via

In 1899, during an expedition in the Middle East, Max Freiherr von Oppenheim (1860-1946) unearthed the remains of a palace dating from the early 1st millennium BC. The discovery was made on the Tell Halaf mound in what is present day northeast Syria.

Max von Oppenheim in Tell Halaf 1929 © Max Freiherr von Oppenheim-Stiftung, Köln via

Most of the finds were taken to Berlin, however they were not exhibited on the Museum Island. Instead, in 1930, they were placed on display in a renovated machine plant.

Entrance to the Tell Halaf-Museum, 1930 © Max Freiherr von Oppenheim-Stiftung, Köln via
The Tell Halaf-Museums, Berlin 1930 © Max Freiherr von Oppenheim-Stiftung, Köln via

During the Second World War, a bomb destroyed the private museum together with the unique sculptures housed within it.

The Tell Halaf Museum after the bombing © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Vorderasiatisches Museum via

Almost 60 years after the destruction, one of the world’s largest restoration projects got under way. Restorers pieced together monumental stone sculptures and relief panels from more than 27,000 fragments! However, having said that, over 4,000 shards, clay figurines, bronzes and small stone tools are still in dire need of restoration, and for this reason, reproductions of historical images from the photographic estate of Max Freiherr von Oppenheim are being sold at auction.

More than 130 copies, from postcard-sized to large format, was auctioned off by the former Director General of the National Museums of Berlin, Peter-Klaus Schuster last August 14.

Sources and further information: and

written by webo29 on 2011-08-15 #news #history #war #berlin #syria #bomb #b-w #germany #archaeology

One Comment

  1. micky_s
    micky_s ·

    an old, but nice article, i enjoyed the pictures! did you just get this many? or more?

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