Istanbul Archaeological Museums

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The Istanbul Archaeological Museums, a museum affiliated to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, is located in Istanbul’s Sultanahmet neighborhood, on the Osman Hamdi Bey slope connecting the Gülhane Park with the Topkapı Palace. Its name is plural, since there are three different museums under the same administration: The Archaeological Museum, the Ancient Orient Museum (Eski Şark Eserleri Müzesi) and Tiled Kiosk Museum (Çinili Köşk Müzesi).

  • During an Istanbul Archaeological Museums tour, it is possible to visit the extraordinarily beautiful garden of the museum and the three different buildings inside this garden.
  • The Istanbul Archaeological Museums, which 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 is the first institution in Turkey arranged as a museum. Besides its spectacular collections, the architectural aspects of its buildings and its garden are of historical and natural importance.
  • The Istanbul Archaeological Museums is welcoming all visitors who want to make a journey in the corridors of the history and to trace the remains of ancient civilizations.


After its opening on June 13, 1891, the Archaeological Museum expanded its collection rapidly. Currently, on the ground floor of the Archaeological Museum, sculptures from the Ancient Age from the Archaic Era to the Roman Era may be seen on the right side, and world wide famous unique artifacts such as the Alexander Sarcophagus, the Sarcophagus of Crying Women and the Sarcophagus of Tabnit that came from the Royal Necropolis in Sidon on the left side. On the upper floor of the two-storey building, there are the Treasury section, the Non-Islamic and Islamic Coin Cabinets and the Library.

The “Surrounding Cultures of Istanbul” section, which was opened in the cellar of the new building in 1998, is a hall where artifacts from various ages found during excavations at the surrounding archaeological sites and tumuli. It has sub-sections of “Thrace-Bithynia and Byzantium”. The ground floor of the new building hosts the “Children’s Museum” exhibition.The “Istanbul Through the Ages” collection is exhibited on the first floor of the new building, the “Anatolia and Troy Through the Ages” collection on the second floor and the “Surrounding Cultures of Anatolia: Artifacts from Syria, Palestine and Cyprus” collection on the third floor, in chronological order.ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM ARTIFACTS


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When the Macedon king Alexander the Great, who lived between 356 and 323 BC, ascended to the throne, he was not even twenty. The legendary commander, who died at the age of 33, has never been forgotten during the twenty-three centuries passed since then, thanks to his glorious and great conquests during a short period of kingdom. He overthrew the Persian Empire and established a great empire extending from Macedonia to India. The cities founded by Alexander, who spent most of his life in Asia, as military bases turned into cultural and commercial centers later and played an important role in the spread of the Ancient Greek culture up to India.

The era of Alexander the Great, of which artistic influences can be followed as well, was a transition period between the periods of Classical Art and Hellenistic Art.

The Head of Alexander the Great, dated to the 2nd century BC, was found during excavations at the Lower Agora in Pergamon (Bergama).

His head is inclined towards his shoulder, the lock of hair from the front of his head, slightly pulled back, resembles a lion’s mane and his hair is irregularly waved in both sides. This is the hairstyle of Alexander the Great. All of the aspects such as his heavy eyelids and round eyes, thick eyelashes, slightly open mouth that does not show his teeth are characteristics of the statues of Alexander the Great. This is the style of portraits made by the sculptor Lysippos, who lived in the 4th century BC and led the transition between the Classic Art and the Hellenistic Art. The artist worked for Alexander the Great and he was the only sculptor of Alexander. The deep forehead lines call the big problems faced by the king despite his youth to the mind. This work is reflecting the typical characteristics of the Pergamon sculpture school during the era of King Eumenes II.


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The Statue of Marsyas, dated to the Hellenistic period, was found in Tarsus, a historical city in south-central Turkey.

He is depicted as hung from a tree and his muscles stretched due to torture draw attention. So to say, he has a physically silent but angry expression. The original version of this special statue should have been placed to the center of a group of statues including the statue of Apollo sitting on his left side and a slave sharpening his knife in order to skin him on his right side.

Marsyas, the main character of an Anatolian story, is depicted while bearing the consequences of his rivalry with Apollo, the god of music. According to the story, Marsyas claims that he plays his flute better than Apollo plays his lyre. Neither of them wins in a musical contest, but Apollo asks Marsyas to turn his instrument upside down and to add his own voice. However, Marsyas cannot meet this challenge and Apollo wins the contest. Angry because of being challenged by a mortal, Apollo skins Marsyas alive and hangs his skin to a pine tree. However, he feels sorry later, breaks his lyre and turns Marsyas into a river.


The Istanbul Archaeological Museums, inherited by the Republic of Turkey from the Ottoman Empire, is hosting the outcomes of the first activities in the field of museum works. In fact, in the Ottoman era, traces of the interest in collecting historical artifacts goes back to the era of Sultan Mehmed II the Conqueror.

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However, the first regular museum works appeared when the Istanbul Archaeological Museums was founded in 1869 as the Imperial Museum (Müze-i Hümayun). The Imperial Museum, which consisted of archaeological artifacts collected until then and exhibited in the Hagia Irene (Aya İrini) church, laid the foundations of the Istanbul Archaeological Museums. Saffet Pasha, then Minister of Education, was closely interested in the museum and acted personally to expand its collections. Additionally, he made Edward Goold, a teacher of English origin in the Galatasaray High School (Galatasaray Lisesi), to be appointed as the director of the museum.

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After being abolished for a while, the Imperial Museum was established again in 1872 by the Minister of Education Ahmed Vefik Pasha, who appointed the German Dr. Phillip Anton Dethier as the director. As a result of the works of Dr. Dethier, the room in the Hagia Irene church became insufficient and the construction of a new building came to the agenda. Due to financial constraints, a new building could not be constructed, but the Tiled Kiosk (Çinili Köşk), built in the era of Sultan Mehmed II the Conqueror, was transformed into a museum. The Tiled Kiosk, which is currently operated by the Istanbul Archaeological Museums, was restored and opened in 1880.

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The appointment of Osman Hamdi Bey, the son of Grand Vizier Edhem Pasha, as the director of the museum in 1881 marked a new epoch in the history of Turkish museums. Osman Hamdi Bey led excavations in Mount Nemrut, Myrina, Kymi and other Aeolian Necropoles and in the Lagina Hekate Sanctuary, and collected the artifacts from these sites in the museum. In 1887-1888, he found the Royal Necropolis in Sidon, Lebanon, and he returned with many sarcophagi, including the famous Sarcophagus of Alexander the Great, to Istanbul.

The oldest building in the complex of Istanbul Archaeological Museums is the Tiled Kiosk. The Tiled Kiosk Museum, where samples of Turkish tile and ceramic works are exhibited today, is the oldest civilian architectural work in Istanbul commissioned by Sultan Mehmed II the Conqueror. The influence of Seljuk architecture is apparent. According to the tile inscription above the gate, the pavilion was built in 1472 AD, but its architect is unknown.

The two other buildings that were constructed later are close to the Tiled Kiosk. One of them is the building constructed as the first Academy of Fine Arts in the Ottoman Empire and re-designed later as the Ancient Orient Museum.
The building, which is hosting the Ancient Orient Collection today, was constructed in 1883 by the order of Osman Hamdi Bey as the School of Fine Arts (Sanayi-i Nefise Mektebi), i.e. the Academy of Fine Arts. This was the first school of fine arts opened in the Ottoman Empire and it laid the foundations of today’s Mimar Sinan University of Fine Arts. The architect of the building was Alexander Vallaury, who built later the classical building of the Istanbul Archaeological Museums. In 1917, the academy moved to another building in the Cağaloğlu neighborhood and the building was assigned to the directorate of museums.

Halil Edhem Bey, the then director of the museum, thought that it was more appropriate to exhibit the artifacts from the ancient cultures of the Near Eastern countries and Greek, Roman and Byzantine artifacts separately, and this building was arranged as the Ancient Orient Museum. The German expert Eckhard Unger, who was invited to lead this transformation, worked in Istanbul in 1917-1919 and 1932-1933, gave the final shape to the museum and made several publications on the artifacts.The museum building was emptied during the World War II for purposes of defense and re-organized later by Osman Sümer in compliance with the principles of Unger. After an extensive restructuring that started in 1963, the museum was re-opened in 1974. The Ancient Orient Museum, which underwent maintenance and repairs in 1999-2000, obtained its current shape on September 8, 2000.On the other hand, the Archaeological Museum is one of the few buildings in the world constructed as a museum building.

The Archaeological Museum, one of the most beautiful and glorious examples of the neo-classical architecture in Istanbul, has a very spectacular architecture especially due to its gorgeous façade. With the two entrances on the long façade, which are reached through wide stairs, and each of which is decorated with four columns and a pediment, it appears like a temple. The kufic inscription on the pediment in Ottoman Turkish says ‘Asar-ı Atika Müzesi’ (Ancient Artifacts Museum). The tughra (calligraphic seal) above this script belongs to the Ottoman Sultan Abdülhamid II, who ordered the construction of the Old Building.

A new museum building was needed in order to display the glorious artifacts such as the Alexander Sarcophagus, the Sarcophagus of the Crying Women, the Lycian Sarcophagus and the Sarcophagus of Tabnit brought to Istanbul after the Royal Necropolis excavations in Sidon, Lebanon led by Osman Hamdi Bey in 1887 and 1888. The Istanbul Archaeological Museum, which was built against the Tiled Kiosk by the then famous architect Alexander Vallaury on the request of Osman Hamdi Bey, was opened to visits on June 13, 1891. This day is still celebrated as the Museum Day in our country.

Today’s main museum building took its final shape after the addition of the northern and the southern wings in 1903 and 1907 respectively.Due to the need for new exhibition halls, a new building adjacent to the southeastern side of the main museum building was constructed between 1969 and 1983 and this section was named the Additional Building (new building).

Greek Gods, Hephaestus

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Hephaestus, god of fire, especially the blacksmith’s fire, was the patron of all craftsmen, principally those working with metals. He was worshiped mainly in Athens, but also in manufacturing centers. He was the god of volcanoes. Later, the fire has represented the blacksmith’s furnace. Hephaestus was associated with Mount Etna, located on the island of Sicily. Known as the lame god Hephaestus was born weak and paralyzed. Angered by the sight of her son, Hera threw Hephaestus from Olympus, and plunged into a whole day before landing in the sea nymphs saved him and took him to Lemnos, where the inhabitants of the island cared for him. But other versions say Zeus threw him from Olympus after Hephaestus had sided with his mother in a scuffle. The legend says that Hephaestus fell for nine days and nine nights, and it landed on the island of Lemnos. It was on Lemnos where he built his palace and forges under a volcano.

You can get revenge against the refusal of Hera, Hephaistos created a magical throne which was presented to her on Mount Olympus. When he sat on the throne, will trap him, so his prisoner. Olympian gods Hephaestus asked to return to the celestial domain, such as the release of Hera, but he refused. Dionysus gave the smith god of wine, and when Hephaestus was intoxicated, Dionysus took him back to Mount Olympus slumped over the back of a mule. This scene was a favorite of Greek art. Hephaestus released Hera after receiving a beautiful Aphrodite his wife. Dionysus was rewarded with an Olympic-Pantheon.

Hephaestus is known as the son of Zeus and Hera, Zeus, though he had nothing to do with perception. Hephaestus was the parthenogenesis, in the sense that it was conceived without male fertilization. Hera was jealous of Zeus, after having had an affair with Metis, from which the goddess of prudence was pregnant with Athena. However, Gaia had warned Zeus that Metis would have a daughter, whose son would overthrow him. To avoid this, Zeus swallowed Metis, so that he could do to a baby through the birth itself, although Zeus could not have created in a natural way. Retribution Hera produced (parthenogeny) Hephaestus, and legend says that Hephaestus split Zeus’s head with an ax, which Athena appeared fully armed.

A legend says that Hephaestus wanted to marry including Athena, who was also a patron of smiths, but she refused because she was ugly. Another legend says that Athena disappeared from their marriage bed but Hephaestus did not see it disappear, and spread his seed on the ground. In a similar version the semen fell from Athena’s thigh and it was produced Erechtheus, who became a king of Athens. (This relates to Erechtheus being the son of Gaia, the Earth.)

In some versions Aphrodite was the wife of Hephaestus, and it was suspected that Aphrodite had been committing adultery. Caught her being unfaithful he fashioned an extraordinary network of chain link, so beautiful and strong that nobody can escape. Then one day he surprised Aphrodite and the war god Ares, as well as read. He threw his magic net over and dragged them before the gods of Olympus, and exposed as they were naked and wrapped in each other’s arms. Hephaestus asked the assembled gods only revenge, but the exact opposite. The gods burst out laughing when they see naked lovers, after which he gave a couple to go free. According to Homer’s Iliad Hephaestus had a wife named Aglaea, who was one of Charites (vertical).

Being a great craftsman Hephaestus manufactured wonderful articles from various materials, mainly metal. With the help of the Cyclopes, who were his workers and assistants, he fashioned the lightning of Zeus and his scepter. Made weapons and armor for gods and heroes. For Athena, who made his shield or aegis and for the god of love, Eros, he made the arrows. The car’s wonderful that the sun god Helios crossed the sky was made by Hephaestus and in some versions it was a gold cup or mug. She was also the invincible armor of Achilles. Hephaestus helped to create the first woman, with the help of other gods, Zeus had ordered after a new type of man. Register Zeus Prometheus because he and his race of mortals had only included one gender, he was a man, and so Hephaestus formed the first woman from clay. Her name was Pandora (all gifts) and a supernatural jar, she published the world’s ills to mankind.

Hephaestus is usually presented in an animated cripple bent over his anvil. His beard and usually depicted as ugly, and some forms of art that walks on the media. Homer describes Hephaestus as lame and walking with a cane for support. Hepheastus was worshiped mainly in Athens, where the temple of Hephaestus and Athena (Hephaesteum, also known as Theseum) is still valid. It ‘s a perfect example of the temple “Doric” (one of three orders of greek architecture). E ‘was built in 449 BC and situated on a hill near the Agora at the foot of the Acropolis. Hephaestus and Athena Ergani (craft services and patron of craftsmen) had the honor of the festival “Chalceia” Pyanopsion is 30 days. The Romans took Hephaestus as one of their gods, myth and cult to establish their god of fire and calling him Vulcan (Volcanus).

Hephaestus was the great Olympian god of fire, metal, stone cutter and the art of sculpture. E ‘was generally described as a bearded man holding a hammer and pliers – locksmith tools – and riding a donkey.

Some of the biggest myths in which the god include: -

  • His downfall of Olympus, where he was shot at birth by Hera;
  • Catch of Hera in a cursed throne, and his return to Olympos;
  • Adultery with his wife, Aphrodite, Ares was trapped in a golden net;
  • The development of Pandora, the first woman on the orders of Zeus;
  • Rape Athena, which led to the conservation of land and the birth of Erikhthonios;
  • The development of the cursed necklace of Harmonia, which condemned their descendants to a cycle of tragedy
  • The Trojan War when he fought the river god Skamandros with fire;
  • The development of the armor of Achilles, at the request of Thetis, the mother of the hero.

This site contains a total of 12 pages describes Hephaestus, including general descriptions of the god, its mythology and worship. The content of the pages are presented below. Quotes for these pages always be established (see the bottom of this page is a project of the State).