The Museum’s antiquities collection includes objects representing the major cultures of the ancient Mediterranean world. While Greek and Roman art are the collection’s emphasis, ancient Egypt and the ancient Near East are also significantly represented. The collection contains about 8,000 objects; only about 5% of the collection is on display at any given time. The remainder is carefully stored, and objects are brought out periodically for study and temporary exhibitions.
Particular strengths in the Greek and Roman collections include approximately 3,000 coins, and a significant number of lamps, glass objects (mostly vessels), Greek and South Italian pottery, terracotta sculpture, and small bronzes. A growing collection of stone sculpture is represented by Roman funerary monuments, portraits of the emperors Nero and Hadrian, and one of an unidentified third-century empress.
The antiquities collection also includes substantial holdings representing the cultures of Egypt, Anatolia, Mesopotamia, Iran, Palestine, and Cyprus. Iranian artifacts are particularly strong in pottery and Luristan bronzes. A number of pottery vessels from the early Hacilar and Yortan cultures strengthen the Anatolian collection. The Museum’s interest in the archaeology of Cyprus has led to the acquisition of a fine collection of Cypriot pottery. A painted linen mummy shroud, plaster mummy masks, a Coptic tunic, a collection of Coptic textile fragments, and an exquisite agate bowl are exceptional examples from the Egyptian holdings. Finally, over 900 objects from the Palestinian region attest the Museum’s long-standing connections with the archaeology of that area.
Major publications of the Museum’s antiquities include catalogues of the Greek pottery, as well as the Cypriot and Palestinian collections (see Publications).