Pergamon Museum - Ishtar Gate PMGI_PSD

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Ishtar Gate, as created by Nebuchadnezzar II around 600BC was the northern gate to the city of Babylon, located at the end of a long processional way. Dedicated to the Babylonina goddess Ishtar, the gate also features prominent repeated depictions of Adad and Marduk. Nabuchadnezzar's cuneiform dedication appears on the side of the gate. Unusually, the iconic Babylonian Lions are absent from the gate.

The restored version at Berlin's Pergamon Museum only represents the front half. An identical section stood behind this facade, with wings that integrated into the city walls. Behind the gate stood the long staircase to the Babylonian Ziggurat, referred to in the Bible as the Tower of Babel.

The polychrome relief tiles that form the only true remains of the Ishtar gate from an excavation completed in the 1930s by the German archaeologist Robert Koldewey. The tiles were completely shattered, requiring around two years to clean, preserve and reassemble. The more vivid blue tiles surrounding the figure were recreated using the original glazing process to complete the lower blue tiled section of the processional way in Berlin's Pergamon Museum.

Definitely best viewed on black

There are lots of distorted and partial photos of the Ishtar Gate in the Pergamon Museum and it's easy to understand why. The room in which the Ishtar Gate stands today is usually crowded. However consider the 240cm high opening in the grey panel at the centre to appreciate the gate's 30 metre span and 14 metre height. The crowd is suitably dwarfed, ensuring a good view for all, but the challenge of photographing the gate is complicated by the shallowness of the room, you just can't go back far enough to get the entire gate framed like this. I managed to photograph the gate in a single shot with a 10mm wideangle lens, but not without noteable distortion... The harsh daylight that comes in through the giant skylight over the gate does not help rendering the vivid colour either.

In the end I decided to try with three individual photographs (one of each tower and one of the gate itself, and each bracketed) taken with a bit of patience to minimize the number of people in shot. I then resorted to Photoshop to join the three HDR photos, remove the people and replace the grey floor. I completed the process with some masked graduated blue and yellow filters to eliminate the light spill from the ceiling. So, this is a reconstruction of a reconstruction, as it were...

Thanks to Google for generating so much traffic to this photo!

* #274 on Flickr's Explore.
* This photo appears here

Chi Man, boy.microb, ty777, and 44 other people added this photo to their favorites.

  1. mikilak 74 months ago | reply

    Very well done.

  2. 74 months ago | reply

    That is so interesting! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Shobeir 74 months ago | reply

    Such a wonderful work, very well done.

  4. youngrobv 74 months ago | reply

    Thank you all!

  5. Chi Man 73 months ago | reply

    Thank you, thank you!

    (Any chance that the Germans will bring it back to Babylon?)

  6. youngrobv 73 months ago | reply

    Indeed, how wonderful it would be to see the treasures of the Pergamon museum in their original location! I hope one day soon peace will return to Iraq...

  7. LeszekZadlo 72 months ago | reply

    Hi, I'm an admin for a group called 100 + Viewed Best Archaeology, Old Art & Ruins Photos (add 1, aw, and we'd love to have this added to the group!

  8. RobandSheila 69 months ago | reply

    i'm still going through these repeatedly. wonderful shots. you're the man Rob.

  9. lamusediffuse 68 months ago | reply

    Thanks for sharing this photo at Museum of Iraq 2.0

  10. Bastian Karl 67 months ago | reply

    Great shot, I envy you, as I recently visited the Pergamom museum in Berlin and was forbidden to take any pictures.

    Seen in Museum of Iraq 2.0 (?)

  11. RobandSheila 67 months ago | reply

    don't mean to step on any toes, but i think vintageimages means he envies you. as do i. you're the man, youngrob. i come back to visit your photos often. thanks for sharing!

  12. youngrobv 67 months ago | reply

    Thanks to all! This is now one of my most viewed photos!

    Vintage images: Thanks, I did not know that. I still have a couple of hundred other shots I took at the Pergamon, as yet not uploaded onto flickr, but I'll post them in the near future. All Pergamon Museum shots are tagged with 'pergamon. I now regret now not having made the time during the last visit to also shoot the Islamic Art section. I'll try and sneak some shots anyway next time I go back...

    Rob: I think you're right, and I'm sure no offense will be taken. Thanks again for all your kind words and support!

  13. Panos_ [deleted] 63 months ago | reply

    Hi, I'm an admin for a group called Lands of Alexander, and we'd love to have this added to the group!

  14. .::Prad Patel::. 58 months ago | reply

    Great photo! Please share your photograph with the Heritage Key group, and please do visit the Heritage Key website!

  15. zeze57 57 months ago | reply

    Nice reconstruction. I recognize your story about the difficulties of photographing there. I am too much a newbie to work on a solution as you did.
    My compliments

  16. Hans Ollermann 49 months ago | reply

    Hi, I'm an admin for a group called Civilizations of the Ancient Near East, and we'd love to have this added to the group!

  17. mlhradio 34 months ago | reply

    Congratulations on receiving more than 10,000 views -- that's quite impressive! Now that you've reached this milestone, you might want to consider graduating this photograph from the 'Views: 5000' group to the 'Views: 10000' group, which can be found here:

    Once again, congratulations and hopefully your photos will receive many more views in the future! Reminder: Photos should only be in one 'Views:xx' group at a time. (This is an automatic message posted to all items in the 'Views: 5000' group that receive more than 10,000 views. There is no need to reply to this message.)

  18. oriana.italy 31 months ago | reply

    Wonderful Work!
    Please post to
    The Golden Phoenix
    Invited Photos Only

    Post 1: Award 3
    tag "the golden Phoenix"
    Thank you

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