The collections from North Africa and the Middle East cover a vast geographical zone from the Persian Gulf to the Atlantic Ocean.
Over twenty thousand objects have been assembled here, representing essentially ethnography and the decorative arts. The collections also include, surprisingly, around six hundred archaeological objects originating from archaeological sites such as Thebes in Egypt and Dura-Europos in Syria.
The collections were assembled as of 1878 from the generous donations of colonial organizations, anthropologists, soldiers open to the Social Sciences and individuals. They were expanded considerably from the thirties with collections organized in the field but also through successive purchases. Since then, they continue to be enriched over the years with new acquisitions.
Great names from the world of science are today associated with these collections, such as Count Robert du Mesnil Buisson, Pierre Rondot, Charles Kuentz, René Verneau, Henri Lhotte and Germaine Tillion.
The collections include important series of items – household utensils, personal grooming accessories, tools, toys, amulets -witness the daily life of urban populations, rural and Bedouin.
However, the key pieces of these collections are without any doubt the costumes, arms, jewelry and clothing, pottery and faïence and lastly the rural carpets, reflections of an art of living and a know-how that has since disappeared.