Wonders of the ancient world


Only three people show up for the third and last installment of “Lunchtime in Another Time,” the Oriental Institute’s free Friday gallery tour series. But docent Joseph Diamond, AM’56, seems unfazed by the turnout, noting with a shrug that other tours this summer have attracted dozens of people. He says that the topics may drive attendance—while this week’s focus is the Persian gallery, past tours of the Egyptian and Mesopotamian rooms proved more popular.

Taking advantage of the low tourist to docent ratio, the audience members engage directly with Diamond, answering his questions, asking their own, and admiring aloud the pottery and ornaments. Diamond—and ancient Persian culture—has their full attention. They lean in to get a closer look when he pulls a stamp and clay lump from his pocket, demonstrating the ancient use of seals.

Diamond claims he can’t remember when he began working at this Near Eastern museum. He thinks it’s been four or five years but points out, “Time takes on a different meaning here.” With an Assyrian dictionary that has been in process for 80 years and artifacts that date to 3500 BC and earlier, Diamond says that the Oriental Institute makes a couple years here or there seem insignificant.

Leila S. Sales, ’06

August 16, 2004