Institute for the Study of Ancient Cultures – Chicago, Illinois - Atlas Obscura

Institute for the Study of Ancient Cultures

This surprising gem is a world-class archeological museum hidden at the University of Chicago. 


This excellent archeological museum tucked away on the University of Chicago campus houses some 400,000 artifacts that provide a fascinating look at the art and cultures of the ancient Middle East. It takes you on a tour through the cradle of civilization, with artifacts from West Asia and North Africa (Mesopotamia, Sumer, Egypt, Assyria, Israel, Iran, Nubia, and more).

Housed in a beautiful historic building, the museum holds many surprising gems. Highlights include reliefs from the palace of Assyrian King Sargon II; an exhibit on the evolution of writing from symbols to clay tablets; mathematical proofs from Babylonian times; artifacts from the Hebrew Bible; and a remarkable Egyptian collection. Wandering through these treasures, you will half expect to see Indiana Jones around the corner.

Until April 2023, the museum was known as the Oriental Institute.

Know Before You Go

The museum is on the campus of the University of Chicago, not far from the Museum of Science and Industry. Don't miss going to the Seminary Coop Bookstore a couple of blocks away.

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February 27, 2019
June 13, 2023

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