Museum of Vision

Dedicated to preserving ophthalmic history

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  1. Extreme Vision: Science Fiction or Truth
  2. Contagion! Epidemics in Ophthalmic History
  3. Spectacular Spectacles
  4. The Eyes of War
  5. To Fool the Eye
  6. Windows to the Soul
  7. Picturing The Eye: Ophthalmic Film and Photography
  8. Collecting Ophthalmology: 30 Years at the Museum

Eye Temple of Brak

Eye idol, 3500-3100BC
Alabaster Eye Temple of Brak idol, 3500-3100BC. Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The eye is a recurring symbol in many cultures and religions. They have been found in the remains of ancient civilizations all over the world, although it is not clear in all cases if eyes were thought to be magical or had religious significance.

In 1937, Professor M.E.L. Mallowan uncovered the remains of a temple in ancient Mesopotamia (modern day Syria) at Tell Brak in the Khabur Valley.  Dating to roughly 3000 BC, the Eye Temple of Brak held thousands of small idols made of alabaster that resembled figures with huge eyes and no other facial features. It has been speculated that these artifacts represent offerings to the gods.  



  1. Eye Temple of Brak
  2. Eye of Horus
  3. The Evil Eye
  4. Eyes of Buddha
  5. Eye of God
  6. Patron Saints of Eyes and Vision
  7. Ex-voto and Milagros

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Amulets and Talismans

Eyes have long been a powerful symbol of the supernatural.

More from our collection

American Academy of Ophthalmology