The Kelso Museum of Near Eastern Archaeology at the Pittsburgh Seminary

Published by Jeremy. Last Updated on October 31, 2023.

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The Pittsburgh Seminary wouldn't be your first place to expect to find a museum, but tucked in the basement of Long Hall is a rather unique museum in Pittsburgh called the Kelso Museum for Near Eastern Archaeology.

For those who like history, especially when surrounding the holy land, a visit to this small museum is a must.

Covering the Seminary's Own Archaeological Digs

Pittsburgh Seminary

In many cases, it would be easy for an archaeological museum to put together finds from digs around the world. But at the Kelso Museum at the Pittsburgh Seminary they go one step further by showcasing the digs that they have conducted themselves!

Kelso Museum at the Pittsburgh Seminary

Over the last 90 years the Pittsburgh seminary has conducted several digs throughout what is now modern day Israel, Jordan, and Syria. In many cases the Seminary has excavated sites that have been untouched for centuries until they came along, which makes the exhibits at the museum especially unique to see.

Kelso Museum at the Pittsburgh Seminary

Along with the artifacts and historical significance of the finds, the museum also has original movies dating back to some of the very first digs which is quite interesting to see side-by-side with the exhibits.

During our visit some of these included Towns and Tombs: The Dead Sea Plain in the Early Bronze AgeTell er Rumeith: An Outpost on the Incense Road, and Everyday Life in the Land Between 2000 BCE and 1000 CE.

But out of all of these one stood out above all others, Words Made Visible.

A Focus on the History of the Written Word

Kelso Museum at the Pittsburgh Seminary

Going beyond the exhibits from the digs themselves, the Kelso Museum of Near Eastern Archaeology also has a rather in-depth exhibit entitled Word Mades Visible which puts a focus on the history of written language- all the way from early Sumerian to modern scripts and the evolution of the written word as a whole.

In fact, we found this exhibit to be the most fascinating and looks at something we use every day in a way most would never consider- all in the basement of a lecture hall at the Pittsburgh Seminary!

Kelso Museum at the Pittsburgh Seminary

Overall, the Kelso Museum at the Pittsburgh seminary is small. At two rooms you can likely visit everything in this free museum in a half hour or so. But the exhibits themselves are absolutely fascinating and is yet another gem we are very fortunate to have in Pittsburgh.

The Kelso Museum of Near Eastern Archaeology is located on the bottom floor of Long Hall at the Pittsburgh Seminary on 616 N Highland Avenue. While there, be sure to check out the photographs in the hallway outside the museum which show off more behind-the-scenes shots of the various excavations over the years.

For more unusual and lesser visited museums in Pittsburgh, click the previous link!

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