The Istanbul Archaeological Museums, a museum affiliated towards the Secretary of state for Culture and Tourism, is found in Istanbul’s Sultanahmet neighborhood, around the Osman Hamdi Bey slope connecting the Gülhane Park while using Topkapı Palace. Its name is plural, as there are three different museums within the same administration: The Archaeological Museum, the ancient Orient Museum (Eski Şark Eserleri Müzesi) and Tiled Kiosk Museum (Çinili Köşk Müzesi).
- Throughout an Istanbul Archaeological Museums tour, it is possible to visit the extraordinarily beautiful garden from the museum and also the three different buildings inside this garden.
- The İstanbul Archaeological Museums, that is housing various artifacts from civilizations that had left their traces to different periods of the history, is one of the 10 most important world-class museums designed and used as a museum building. Additionally, it’s the first institution in Turkey arranged as a museum. Besides its spectacular collections, the architectural facets of its buildings and its garden are of historical and natural importance.
- The İstanbul Archaeological Museums is welcoming all visitors who wish to make a journey in the corridors of the background and to trace the remains of ancient civilizations.
The Istanbul Archaeology Museum is housed in three buildings just inside the first court of Topkapi Palace and includes the Museum of the Ancient Orient. The museum has an excellent collection of Greek and Roman artifacts, including finds from Ephesus and Troy.
Collections of the Istanbul Archaeology Museum
The Istanbul Archaeological Museum houses more than one million objects, the most extraordinary of which are the sarcophagi that date back as far as the 4th century BC. The museum excels, however, in its rich chronological assortment of locally found artifacts that shed light on the origins and good reputation for the city.
Close to the entrance is a statue of a lion representing the only piece saved from the clutches of British archaeologists from the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
On the upper floor of the building there are small stone works, pans and pots, small terracotta statues, 800,000 Ottoman coins, seals, decorations, and medals, and a library with 70,000 books.
In the halls to the left is a assortment of sarcophagi found at Sidon (ancient Syria) representing various architectural styles influenced by outside cultures including Egypt, Phoenicia, and Lycia. The most famous is the Alexander Sarcophagus, covered with astonishingly advanced carvings of battles and also the life of Alexander the Great, discovered in 1887 and once believed to happen to be that of the emperor himself (it was actually Sidonian King Abdalonymos).
Found in the same necropolis at Sidon is the stunningly preserved Sarcophagus of the Crying Women, with 18 intricately carved panels showing figures of women in extreme states of mourning.
On the mezzanine level is the exhibit “Istanbul With the Ages,” a rich and well-presented exhibit that won the museum the Council of Europe Museum Award in 1993. To put the exhibit into perspective, the curators have provided maps, plans, and drawings to illustrate the archaeological findings, displayed thematically, which range from prehistoric artifacts found west of Istanbul to 15th-century Byzantine works of art.
The recovered snake’s head from the Serpentine Column in the Hippodrome is on display, as is the 14th-century bell in the Galata Tower. The upper two levels house the Troy exhibit and displays on the evolution of Anatolia within the centuries, as well as sculptures from Cyprus, Syria, and Palestine.
The newly renovated and reopened Museum of the Ancient Orient is an exceptionally rich collection of artifacts from the earliest civilizations of Anatolia, Mesopotamia, Egypt, and the Arab continent. The tour starts with pre-Islamic divinities and idols obtained from the courtyard of the Al-Ula temple, along with artifacts showing ancient Aramaic inscriptions and a small assortment of Egyptian antiquities.
Uncovered in the region of Mesopotamia and on display is an obelisk of Adad-Nirari III inscribed with cuneiform characters. Of particular significance is a series of colored mosaic panels showing animal reliefs of bulls and dragons with serpents’ heads in the monumental Gate of Ishtar, built by Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylonia.
A pictorial representation on a Sumerian devotional basin of ladies carrying pitchers of water whose contents are filling an underground source relates to the ancient Mesopotamian belief that the world was surrounded by water, a belief which has provoked questions over the origins from the biblical Great Flood.
Without a penny dating newer than the 1st century AD, pretty much everything here has enormous significance. But two of the highlights are often the fragments of the 13-century BC sphinx in the Yarkapi Gate at Hattusas and something of the three known tablets from the Treaty of Kadesh, the oldest recorded peace treaty signed between Ramses II and the Hittites in the 13th-century BC inscribed in Akkadian, the international language of the era. (Another tablet is in the Staatliche Museum in Berlin.)