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Oriental Institute

The Oriental Institute is the University of Chicago's archeology museum and research center for ancient Near Eastern studies.

The Oriential Institute, or OI, is housed in an unusual Art-Deco/Gothic building at the corner of 58th and Ellis. The Museum has artifacts from digs in Egypt, Israel, Syria, Turkey, Iraq, and Iran. Notable possessions are the famous Megiddo Ivories, various treasures from Persepolis, the old Persian capital, a huge 40 ton human-headed winged bull from Khorsabad, the capital of Sargon II, and finally a monumental statue of King Tutankhamun.

the giant Assyrian winged bull from Sargon II's palace at Khorsabad

Even given unlimited resources and comparable archeological discoveries, the OI's treasures could not be assembled today, since Middle Eastern governments no longer allow archeologists to repatriate half of what they find.

Not only a museum, the Oriental Institute is, as its name suggests, a center of research on the ancient Near East. In addition to carrying out many digs in the Fertile Crescent, OI scholars have made many contributions to our understanding of the the cradle of civilization. In fact, the term "Fertile Crescent" was coined by OI head James Henry Breasted.

Among other projects, OI scholars are currently working on a 26 volume dictionary of Akkadian and a database of all that was looted from the Iraq Museum in April 2003.