The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

May 23, 2013

May 23, 1932

The fall of 2008 was remarkable in the art world for an exhibition of artifacts held by the State Museums of Berlin. The theme was "The Legacy of James Simon," and this includes The Ishtar Gate, a Babylonian architectural artifact featuring regal and fierce lions. The association of lions and royalty no doubt precedes the Ishtar Gate which dates from around 575 BC.

According to the program one of the highlights of the exhibition was a

Restored Lion Relief from the Processional Way in Babylon––restored from the thousands of glazed brick fragments found during the ambitious Babylon excavations in the 1920s sponsored by Simon...[;] this sixth-century B.C. panel crafted during the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar II was one of 100 sacred Lions of Ishtar that decorated the Processional Way leading to the massive Ishtar Gate, entrance to the fortress of ancient Babylon.

These items are considered part of his legacy because James Simon (September 17, 1851 to May 23, 1932) was a wealthy German business man, and philanthropist, who bankrolled archaeological expeditions and was thus responsible for many treasures which he donated to Berlin museums.

James Simon was born and died in Berlin and is buried at the Jewish cemetery on Schönhauser Allee in Prenzlauer Berg. Simon's taste and generosity in donating items to the Berlin museums is said to have elevated Berlin to the ranks of London and Paris as a cultural capital. Wilhelm II sent a wreath for Simon's funeral from his exile home in the Netherlands. By the time the former Emperor died (1942) the Netherlands were occupied. And in a few more years Berlin would itself be in fragments. Rubble to rubble. Although, Berlin was more quickly restored than Babylon.

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