Ancient Cultures between Water and Desert

13 April to 20 August 2017

The exhibition draws the veil from the long hidden treasures of the early Iranian civilisations that flourished between the seventh millennium BC and the rise of the Achaemenids in the first millennium BC.

From the snow-capped peaks of the Alborz and Zagros mountain ranges to the blazing heat of the Loot Desert, Iran is a country of contrasts. But those forbidding deserts and mountain ranges shelter fertile valleys that have been inhabited by people ever since sedentism.

«Out beyond ideas of right and wrong doing, there is a field. I will meet you there.» Rumi

These valleys were the cradle of the Iranian civilisations, which culminated in the rise of the Achaemenid Empire. The mountains provided shelter and raw materials. The wild animals and mythical creatures that populated the wilderness found visual representation in scenes of animals fighting on stone vessels from the gravesites of Jiroft, on imaginatively painted ceramics from Susa and in the battle scenes on the gold bowl from Hasanlu.

The exhibition opens a window onto a country that has been inaccessible for decades and whose imagery is little known in Europe. The treasures from the graves of two Elamite princesses and the spectacular finds from the burial grounds of Jiroft are shown outside Iran for the first time.

Extended opening times

Nearly 100,000 visitors have seen the "fabulous treasures from the cradle of the Iranian civilisation" to the present day. In the last two weeks extended opening hours are valid for the exhibition and the Persian Garden:

Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 9 pm

#WaterandDesert |

Admission tickets

Iran. Ancient Culture between Water and Desert
€12/ €8.50 (concessions), Family ticket €18

The Persian Garden. The Invention of Paradise
€8,50/ €6.50 (concessions), Family ticket €10.50

Combined ticket: "Iran" and The Persian Garden
€14/ €9  (concessions), Family ticket €22.50

School groups enjoy free admission to the exhibition on Fridays (booking necessary)
Happy-Hour-Ticket: 7 € (available two hours before the museum closes; individual visitors only, all exhibitions.) Combined ticket for all exhibitions available. More information

Official Audio-App

Available for free from the Apple Store or through Google Play

Conceptualisation and production of the audio guide and this app:  

All Objects:
© The National Museum of Iran / Kunst- und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland GmbH, Photo: Neda Hossein Tehrani, Nima Mohammadi Fakhoorzadeh

Show bibliography

Kunst- und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland

Museumsmeile Bonn
Helmut-Kohl-Allee 4
53113 Bonn
T +49 228 9171–200

Opening hours

Mondays closed
Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 10 a.m.–9 p.m.
Thursdays–Sundays, 10 a.m.–7 p.m.
(including public holidays even those which fall on Mondays)