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Bahrain: Bahrain National Museum

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Bahrain National Museum | Bahrain | Asia

[Visited: August 2014]

After having visited various ancient spots around the country, some of which were so much affected by the advance of time that it was a little hard to understand what they actually looked like once upon a time, it was time to visit the National Museum of Bahrain. The bus driver drops me off close to the flyover of one of the many busy roads of Manama city, and I cross the roads under the heat of this summer day. Outside the modern building of the museum, which was inaugurated in 1988, I see scores of modern-day sculptures. Entering the museum is like entering a freezer; my wet shirt suddenly feels ice cold. The central area in the museum has a huge map of Bahrain on it floor, and it is fun to walk through the country, trying to recognize the places I have visited during my visits to the country.

Picture of Bahrain National Museum (Bahrain): The grave section of the National Museum contains this skeleton

On the walls, I read some general informative texts about the prominent places in Bahrain, and I discover some new places that I have not been to yet; the museum gives me inspiration for my next visits. It is time to dive into the history of the country; roughly 6000 years of the history of Bahrain is represented inside. There are several halls where this is clearly explained in both Arabic and English. There is a hall dedicated to the Dilmun civilization, there is one about the graves that comprise 5% of the country. Tens of thousands of mounds can be found scattered in several parts of Bahrain - of which I have seen several, and one of them has been moved right into the museum, and is opened. I can now finally see what the graves look like inside. There are jars with human bones inside, there are skeletons, skulls, and finds of jewelry found in the graves. Because of the habit that people were buried with precious items, many of the graves were robbed.

Picture of Bahrain National Museum (Bahrain): Old Arabic map, drawn upside-down, on display in the National Museum

Apart from the ancient civilizations, there are rooms dedicated to the advent of Islam to Bahrain, with parts of mosques and slabs of stone embellished by calligraphy. Then, there is a room dedicated to daily traditional life in Bahrain, with houses and courtyards, boats, an explanation about the pearl industry that was so important for the country before oil was discovered in the early 1930s. There is an alley invoking the atmosphere of a souk, with sounds, and several traditional professions expressed in each small shop: a shoemaker, a barber, a sweets maker, and more. Then, there is a room with documents and manuscripts, and some old maps of the region. One of them is actually drawn upside down for a reason that I cannot understand. There is a section about the fauna and flora of the country, as well as an old Buick donated by the Americans. When I have seen everything, stepping outside gives me a blow because of the heat enveloping me. I slowly walk around the sculptures on the plaza outside the museum and find a few more at the main entrance. I now understand more of what I have seen before, and I even have new ideas about places to see on next visits to the country.

Picture of Bahrain National Museum (Bahrain): The open space outside the National Museum is decorated with modern sculptures
Picture of Bahrain National Museum (Bahrain): Decorated jars on display, testimony to the rich heritage of Bahrain
Picture of Bahrain National Museum (Bahrain): Shoemaker sitting on the floor in the museum of Bahrain
Picture of Bahrain National Museum (Bahrain): A couple of old seals found in ruins of a temple in Bahrain
Picture of Bahrain National Museum (Bahrain): The street with several typical professions includes this sweets maker
Picture of Bahrain National Museum (Bahrain): Sculpted block of stone on display in the museum
Picture of Bahrain National Museum (Bahrain): Sculpted stone with figure from the Hellenistic period
Picture of Bahrain National Museum (Bahrain): Illuminated manuscript on display in the National Museum
Picture of Bahrain National Museum (Bahrain): One of the many modern-day sculptures outside the National Museum
Picture of Bahrain National Museum (Bahrain): Human bones found in a jar
Picture of Bahrain National Museum (Bahrain): Richly decorated suitcase on display in the National Museum
Picture of Bahrain National Museum (Bahrain): Traditional Bahraini house with courtyard in a hall of the National Museum
Picture of Bahrain National Museum (Bahrain): The floor of the main hall of the museum consists of a map of Bahrain

Around the World in 80 Clicks

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