I have spent only one too-short stay in Amsterdam, a beautiful and fascinating city where I want to spend a lot more time. It's not surprising that I missed the antiquities museum there, but an article by Geraldine Fabrikant (Amsterdam secret: A den of antiquity, November 3) in the International Herald Tribune told me all about it (with links added):
The van Goghs dazzle, and the luster and subtlety of the Rembrandts take one's breath away. But visitors to Amsterdam seeking diversity after the Rijksmuseum and the van Gogh Museum, will find it at the Allard Pierson Museum, which houses an extensive collection of ancient Egyptian, Greek, Roman and Etruscan art. The Allard Pierson, which is part of the University of Amsterdam and sits on the Singel Canal near the city's popular shopping streets, offers everything from mummies and an explanation of the process by which they were buried to an elegant collection of Roman glass, Greek vases and Etruscan votive offerings. A bronze mirror with a small statue of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, as its base and tiny putti surrounding the mirror, from the fifth century B.C. - the height of Greek artwork - is as superb a piece as might be found in any major antiquities collection.The Web site is in English or Dutch and has a lot of images.
And the Etruscan collection of terra-cotta votive offerings in the shapes of human body parts - from hands to breasts to wombs and penises, as well as babies wrapped in swaddling clothes - raises the still unanswered question of what they were used for, although experts generally speculate that they were brought to the Etruscan temples in the hope that the gods would help heal ailments related to those particular parts.