'They shall not return to us, the resolute, the young, the eager and whole-hearted," wrote Rudyard Kipling of the leading lights of ancient Iraq. But here they are once again, as the "Splendours of Mesopotamia" exhibition comes to the Manarat al Saadiyat in Abu Dhabi.
Curated by Nigel Tallis, the exhibition grafts the ancient history of the UAE onto that of the cradle of civilisation, Mesopotamia, through excavated trade objects.
"The story of the UAE is part of the wider story of the Middle East," said Paul Collins, lead curator of the Zayed National Museum Project at the British Museum. "You couldn't tell one without the other because they're all inter-related."
The history spans more than 3,000 years. Spectacular gold Sumerian jewellery, found in the Royal Graves of Ur, gleams beside Babylonian and Assyrian treasures. Presented chronologically by the Tourism Development and Investment Company, the British Museum's renowned Middle East collection, along with finds from Al Ain's National Museum, take us back to a golden age.
And well it might. One of the greatest cultural tragedies in recent times was the looting of Baghdad's artefacts. But the land from whence civilisation emerged is still within our reach. Kipling would have been proud.