Ancient Near East
The Ashmolean's Near Eastern collections extend from Stone Age hunters, through the first farming communities, on again through the beginnings of urbanism and the discovery of writing, the emergence of the world's first states and civilisations, and through until the spread of Islam. The collections track the progress of western interest in the antiquity of the Near East from the mid-19th century, when the decline of the Ottoman empire allowed increasing western travel in the region, through to the major pioneering excavations of the early 20th century, many jointly sponsored by the Ashmolean. The collection is an astounding resource for the study of the archaeology of the region, which is paralleled in few other institutions worldwide.
The Museum also has a large collection of archaeological material from Cyprus, representative of human history on the island from the Neolithic to Medieval periods. The Museum has been associated with the study of Cypriot archaeology since the late 19th century, principally through the work Professor Sir John Linton Myres, the first person to research the history of the island through controlled excavations. See Ancient Cyprus in the Ashmolean Museum for further information about the Cypriot collections.