Before the alphabet. A journey in Mesopotamia towards the writing origins.
20 January -25 April 2017, Istituto Veneto di Scienze Lettere ed Arti, Palazzo Loredan (Campo Santo Stefano, Venezia)

Entrance fee: Euros 5,00*
Place: Palazzo Loredan
Opening hours: From Tuesday to Sunday 10.00 am – 5.oo pm. Monday closed. Information about the exhibition and educational materials: +39 041 2705616,

*For school groups with one or more teachers, the entrance fee will be reduced to 3 euros per student. Teaching laboratories (lasting approximately 1h15′) are available on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday morning (booking is required) with an additional cost of 2 euros per student.

The ancient Romans used to say “Scripta manent” to underline the authority and the value of the written texts. The Arabs say “Maktub”; ‘it is written’.
The origin of writing, which occurred almost at the same time in Egypt and Mesopotamia in 3200 A.C., started one of the most fascinating and revolutionary chapters in the history of human civilization. This is because writing has been fundamental for the transmission of ancient knowledge and traditions.
The exhibition is held at Palazzo Loredan in Venice, from 20 January to 25 April 2017 in one of the location of the Institute Veneto di Scienze Lettere ed Arti, promoted by the Fondazione Giancarlo Ligabue, directed by Inti Ligabue, organized by Professor Frederick Mario Fales (Università degli Studi di Udine), one of the most famous assyriologist and scholars on ancient Near East. This exhibit leads us in the land between two rivers almost 6000 years ago, in a world of signs, symbols, incisions, but also of images and visual narrations that testify the birth and the overwhelming development of the cuneiform writing and the social, economic, religious environment of the ancient Mesopotamia.

Mesopotamia, a land of extraordinary ancient civilizations such as the Sumerians, Babylonians, Assyrians, is now destroyed by war and terrorism, which prevents access to its Cultural Heritage. However, the features  of this incredible land have been explained and shown thanks to the exhibition – supported by Regione del Veneto and Venice city, main sponsor Ligabue SpA e Hausbrandt, with the contribution of DM Informatica, La Giara e Scattolon Renato – of 200 findings belonging to the Ligabue collection that, for the first time, has been opened to the public.

The collections’ objects are in the majority of cases cuneiform tablets and numerous cylindrical seals or stamp seals, but they are also sculptures, small plates, weapons, low relief, vases and inlay works of the ancient world.

Important archeological findings from the Archaeological Museum of Venice and the Antiquity Museum of Turin are placed side by side to these objects. They are fragments of low relief uncovered by Austen Henry Layard, discoverer of the city of Ninive, who during the last period of his life retired in Venice at Palazzo Cappello Layard. There is also a fragment of an Assyrian low relief, which depicted King Saragon II, that was discovered in 1842 by Paul Emile Botta –  french consul in Mosul – who donated it to King Carlo Alberto.

The collection of Giancarlo Ligabue – business man, archaeologist, paleontologist and great explorer- is extraordinary not only in regard to the quantity and historical importance of the materials, but also because it testifies a slow way of collecting, and one that is respectful of the context of the findings and that has the aim to preserve the memory and not to defraud other civilisation and cultures for ulterior motives.

Regione del Veneto
Città di Venezia

Fondazione Giancarlo Ligabue
Inti Ligabue
Massimo Casarin Presidente
Adriano Favaro Vice presidente
Lucia BertiPR, Communication & Events Supervisione testi, iconografie e cartografie
Claudia Ghedin Board Assistant & Secretary
Marta Dal Martello Ricerche e archivio

Frederick Mario Fales

Scientific committee
Frederick Mario Fales Ordinario Università degli Studi di Udine
Roswitha Del Fabbro Università degli Studi di Udine

Main sponsor
Gruppo Ligabue, Hausbrandt

DM Informatica, La Giara, Scattolon Renato

© Fondazione Giancarlo Ligabue

Before the alphabet. A journey in Mesopotamia towards the writing origins.

3 thoughts on “Before the alphabet. A journey in Mesopotamia towards the writing origins.

  • 13 February 2017 at 16:57

    The exhibition looks to be most interesting, but I would recommend you use an English mother-tongue person to write your publicity in future to ensure that it is written correctly without any errors.

    • 13 February 2017 at 17:42

      Dear Vane, thank you for your comment. Unfortunately, we have experienced some logistic problems with the English section of this website, for this reason at the moment we are trying to edit and translate all the latest useful news as fast as possible. As a result, due to the rush, we have made some mistakes. I hope that the errors have not prevented you from obtaining all the information that you needed. From now on we will be more careful and we will work hard to give you the best information in the most professional way possible. Thank you again for your help and understanding. Team Archeoadvisor

  • 20 February 2017 at 14:34

    Many thanks Valentine for your prompt and helpful reply. I fully understand your reasons, and yes, this has certainly not impaired my enjoyment and appreciation of the exhibition. My thanks once again for taking your valuable time to respond.


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