The Met has been involved in the study of antiquity since its founding in 1870. Today, we participate in active excavations at Dahshur, Lisht, and Malqata in Egypt; Tell Mozan and Umm el Marra in Syria; and at Palaikastro in eastern Crete and Amorium in Turkey. These activities are critical to understanding the cultures represented in the Museum's collections, and fundamental to the Met's role as an international institution.
During the Middle Ages (ca. A.D. 650–1000), Amorium, in central Anatolia, was an important Byzantine city, which at its height in the early ninth century A.D. was the third largest in the Byzantine Empire, after Constantinople (Istanbul) and Thessalonica (Thessaloniki, Greece).
Senwosret III's pyramid complex at Dahshur was first excavated between 1894 and 1895 by the French Egyptologist Jacques de Morgan. The Metropolitan Museum of Art began excavating the site in 1990 and has returned annually since 1992.
The Egyptian Expedition of the Metropolitan Museum's Department of Egyptian Art began excavating at Malqata in the fall of 1910 in cooperation with the Egyptian Antiquities Service (Service des Antiquités de l'Égypte). The expedition returned to the site in 2008.
During the Bronze Age (ca. 3000–1050 B.C.), Palaikastro, in eastern Crete, was the site of a major Minoan town, which at its height in the middle of the fifteenth century B.C. was one of the largest settlements on the island. Later, in ancient Greek and Roman times, it became the site of one of the most important sanctuaries to Zeus, known as the Diktaian sanctuary, on Crete.
The city of Akhetaten, built as the capital of the pharaoh and religious reformer Akhenaten and inhabited from 1347 B.C., was abandoned not too long after his death in 1336. Although those opposed to the king dismantled the city's temples and palaces, what remains provides a remarkable snapshot of an ancient city and the lives of its inhabitants.
Tell Mozan, the ancient city of Urkesh, is located in northeastern Syria near the Turkish border. From about 3000 to 1500 B.C.
, Urkesh was an important stop on both the north-south trade route between Anatolia and the cities of Syria and Mesopotamia, and the east-west route that linked the Mediterranean with the Zagros Mountains of western Iran.
Umm el-Marra is located in western Syria on an east-west trade route linking Aleppo and the Mediterranean with Mesopotamia. First excavated by a Belgian team in the 1970s, the site is currently being studied by a joint expedition of Johns Hopkins University and the University of Amsterdam that began in 1994 under the direction of Glenn M. Schwartz and Hans H. Curvers. The Museum provided support for the excavations at Umm el-Marra from 2006 to 2010.