The Mead’s Assyrian reliefs were among the first artworks acquired by Amherst, nearly a century before the construction of its art museum in 1949. The College’s third president, Edward Hitchcock, acquired the monumental alabaster reliefs from the palace of Ashurnasirpal II at Nimrud in 1855 and originally displayed them in the Octagon as evidence of the chronological validity of the Old Testament. In the twentieth century, the museum’s collection of ancient art expanded to include excellent examples of Greek vase painting, funerary sculpture, terracotta figurines, and an extraordinary silver amphoriskos. Other highlights include Roman marble portraits, late antique mosaics, and bronzes from the periphery of the classical world. An Egyptian tomb relief and mummy case and a range of Peruvian Moche ceramics represent the art of other notable ancient cultures.