The stunning current show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art couldn't be timelier. "Art of the First Cities: The Third Millennium B.C. from the Mediterranean to the Indus" includes rare treasures from Iraq, among other places that include Syria, Turkey and Pakistan. In view of the looting and destruction in Baghdad, preservation of artifacts from that part of the world becomes all the more important. This exhibition contains works, large and small, between four and five thousand years old, and many of them are astonishingly beautiful.

There is a selection from the early city Uruk in southern Mesopotamia, including the prized Uruk vase, for example. There are also pieces form the city Ur, The entire exhibition contains some 400 rare items, including various types of jewelry and assorted vessels, as well as sculpture, some small pieces and others of more imposing size.

There is too much to take in sufficiently in one viewing, but the exhibit will remain through August 17, 2003. Apart from its historical value in terms of culture, the show holds so much that is extremely beautiful. Some 50 museums from more than 12 countries have participated in the assembly of this exhibit. At the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Fifth avenue at 82nd Street. Phone: 212-535-7710.

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