Istanbul Archaeology Museums
The Istanbul Archaeology Museums have a deep-rooted history dating back to the late 19th century. Established many years ago, these museums were created to showcase the results of archaeological discoveries during the Ottoman Empire period.
Shedding Light on History: Istanbul Archaeology Museums
As a fascinating museum complex housing the rich heritage of numerous cultures from around the world, the Istanbul Archaeology Museums hold significant cultural importance. They are, in fact, the oldest purpose-built museum buildings in Turkey and serve as a valuable reflection of our cultural richness and history.
Founded in 1869 by Minister of Education Mehmed Esad Safvet Pasha under the name "Museum of the Imperial Museum," this museum became a center where Turkey's earliest museum endeavors converged. The museum's collection includes artifacts from many civilizations, spanning from the Balkans within the Ottoman Empire's borders to Africa, Anatolia, Mesopotamia, and the Arabian Peninsula. It continues to pique the interest of history and culture enthusiasts.
The museum's origins are rooted in the archaeological artifacts gathered at the Hagia Irene Museum. Mehmed Esad Safvet Pasha, who was the Minister of Education at the time, made special efforts to develop the museum, and he appointed Edward Goold, of British origin, as the museum director. However, the museum saw a revival with the appointment of Dr. Phillip Anton Dethier, a German, as the director.
Dr. Dethier's work revealed that the space in Hagia Irene was insufficient, necessitating the construction of a new building. Due to financial difficulties, a new building could not be constructed, so the "Çinili Köşk" (Tiled Kiosk) dating back to the reign of Fatih Sultan Mehmet was converted into a museum and opened for visitors in 1880.
The Çinili Köşk, which is part of the Istanbul Archaeology Museums complex, is a remarkable historical structure. Built in 1472 during the reign of Sultan Mehmet II, this building is the oldest of the civil architectural examples constructed in Istanbul by the same ruler. The date is inscribed on the ceramic tiles at the entrance gate. However, the architect's identity remains unknown.
In 1881, Osman Hamdi Bey was appointed as the museum director, marking a new era in Turkish museology. The building where the Old Eastern Works were housed was constructed by Osman Hamdi Bey as the Academy of Fine Arts. This academy was the first fine arts school opened in the Ottoman Empire and laid the foundations for Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University. Later, this building was allocated to the museum directorship and began to be used as the Museum of Old Eastern Works.
Osman Hamdi Bey enriched the museum's collection through various excavations. As a result of the excavations conducted in Sayda between 1887 and 1888, he brought many significant pieces to Istanbul, including the Alexander Sarcophagus. This magnificent artifact, dating back to the 4th century BC, is known for its intricate relief scenes depicting the life of Alexander the Great. Osman Hamdi Bey's efforts brought these remarkable pieces to Istanbul, and he made an enduring impact on Turkish archaeology.
With the appointment of Osman Hamdi Bey as the museum director in 1881, Turkish museology entered a new era. The building of the Old Eastern Works, which was originally designed as an academy of fine arts by Osman Hamdi Bey, was later allocated for use by the Museum of Old Eastern Works. This building holds historical significance as it contributed to the foundation of Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University.
Osman Hamdi Bey's work as a pioneering Turkish archaeologist and museum director significantly enriched the museum's collections. His excavations in Sayda, conducted between 1887 and 1888, yielded many important artifacts, including the Alexander Sarcophagus. This magnificent piece from the 4th century BC features intricate relief scenes depicting the life of Alexander the Great. Osman Hamdi Bey's leadership in these excavations brought these remarkable treasures to Istanbul and left an indelible mark on Turkish archaeology.
The Alexander Sarcophagus, considered a masterpiece of ancient art, is one of the highlights of the Istanbul Archaeology Museums. The fine details and intricate craftsmanship on the sarcophagus provide a vivid glimpse into the life and deeds of Alexander the Great. It is a must-see for visitors interested in ancient history and art.
In 1891, a new building was constructed across from the Çinili Köşk to house these grand artifacts. The design of the new building was created by Alexandre Vallaury, and it was opened to the public on June 13, 1891. The date of the museum's opening is now celebrated as Museum Day in Turkey.
The main building of the museum, with its north wing added in 1903 and south wing in 1907, took on its present form. Additionally, an annex building called the Ek Bina was constructed between 1969 and 1983, further expanding the museum. The Istanbul Archaeology Museums provide an opportunity to journey into the depths of history.
This unique museum, with its rich collection and historical significance, is a valuable testament to Turkey's cultural heritage and past. The museum's history sheds light on the development of Turkish museology, while the exhibited artifacts carry the traces of civilizations from thousands of years ago. The Istanbul Archaeology Museums invite you to look at history with respect and admiration.
Where Are the Istanbul Archaeology Museums?
Located within Gülhane Park on the historic peninsula of Istanbul, the Istanbul Archaeology Museums are open to visitors from 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM. For those wishing to explore this magnificent museum in Gülhane, the entrance fee is 340 Turkish Lira. The museum also offers an audio guide service. Don't forget to visit the Istanbul Archaeology Museums at the suitable hours to discover this place filled with historical and cultural treasures.
What Can You See at the Istanbul Archaeology Museums?
The Istanbul Archaeology Museums consist of three fascinating sections: the Museum of Ancient Oriental Works, the Tiled Kiosk Museum, and the Archaeological Museum. These museums, with their architectural marvels that are works of art themselves, welcome visitors to explore. They hold a significant place in Turkey's rich history of archaeology and museology and provide an important window into both historical and cultural treasures.
The Love Poem Tablet
Discovered during excavations in the ancient city of Nippur, this clay tablet dating back to the 2nd millennium BC generated great interest worldwide. This tablet contains the earliest known love poem and sheds light on the origins of love in human history. According to Sumerian tradition, the king would symbolically marry a priestess representing the goddess of love and fertility, Inanna, each year to ensure the fertility and vitality of nature.
This special tablet, which was written by a priestess to be presented to King Su-Sin in a symbolic marriage, is a testament to the profound roots of love and passion in human history. It also holds great importance as a rare work reflecting the intricacies of Sumerian culture and the power of love.
The Love Poem Tablet is on display at the Istanbul Archaeology Museums. This tablet provides a deep look into the origins of love and romance in human history, making it a fascinating discovery for history enthusiasts.
The Bust of Alexander the Great
This head of a statue, which may depict Alexander the Great or a deity or hero similar to him, was found in the lower agora of the ancient city of Pergamon. Dating back to the 2nd century BC, this head may have fallen from one of the buildings in the upper city. It is associated with one of the most influential figures in human history, Alexander the Great.
The statue is an essential piece in the Istanbul Archaeology Museums' collection and should not be missed. It offers an opportunity to explore the power and influence of Alexander the Great and provides insight into the history of this extraordinary figure. The head of this statue stands out, and it is one of the most special pieces on display in the museum.
Unearthed during excavations at Konya-Ambar Höyük and dating back to the 3rd century, this magnificent sarcophagus was brought to Istanbul in 1901. Weighing an astonishing 32 tons, this sarcophagus is adorned with intricate details and is a spectacle to behold.
This sarcophagus, believed to be the first discovered example of its type produced in Anatolia, is of exceptional historical and artistic value. The vivid reliefs on its lid depict a couple believed to be the owners of the tomb, while the side panels feature striking scenes from mythology. Its discovery in 1900 added to the importance of this piece in the field of archaeology, and it stands as one of the most valuable artifacts on display at the Istanbul Archaeology Museums.
The Alexander Sarcophagus
Discovered during excavations in Sidon in 1887, this sarcophagus was created using Pentelic marble. It is associated with one of the most significant figures in history, Alexander the Great, and illustrates a pivotal scene from the Battle of Issus, a battle between the Persians and the Macedonians led by Alexander.
Contrary to its name, the sarcophagus is thought to belong not only to Alexander the Great but also to Abdalonymos, who became the king of Sidon after the victory in the Battle of Issus. This magnificent work of art, dating back to the 4th century BC, is a masterpiece that reflects the events and characters of the time in great detail.
The sarcophagus is particularly notable for its depiction of the Battle of Issus. It vividly portrays the intensity of the battle, the clash of armies, and its strategic significance. Its discovery in Sidon during excavations led by Osman Hamdi Bey added to its significance in the field of Turkish archaeology.
This sarcophagus, on display at the Istanbul Archaeology Museums, offers visitors an opportunity to step into the fascinating world of the ancient past. It is a must-see for those interested in experiencing the echoes of Alexander the Great and the historical significance of the Battle of Issus.
Kadesh Peace Treaty Tablets
The Kadesh Treaty, considered the earliest known peace treaty in history, holds a special place in the annals of diplomacy. This treaty was written on a clay tablet and was discovered in the ruins of Hattusa (Bogazköy) during excavations. Today, one of the two examples is on display at the Istanbul Archaeology Museums.
The Kadesh Treaty tablets mark a turning point in diplomatic history. These tablets are among the most important milestones in the history of diplomacy, emphasizing cooperation between two ancient superpowers—Egypt and the Hittites—against a common potential enemy.
The Kadesh Treaty is notable for its commitment to the principle of equality. This treaty serves as a written record of peace and cooperation between states, making it an important symbol in the history of diplomacy. This treaty emphasizes the significance of peace and cooperation between two great powers and continues to be recognized as a symbol of the birth of diplomacy in international relations.
The Kadesh Treaty is a rare document that has reached us from the depths of history, shedding light on the evolution of humanity's pursuit of peace and diplomacy. These ancient texts invite visitors to understand the importance of significant agreements from the past and offer a fascinating experience alongside one of history's most significant milestones.
Meeting History at the Istanbul Archaeology Museums
Embarking on a journey into the depths of history, uncovering the secrets of the past, and gaining insights into the origins of humanity have never been more captivating than through the Istanbul Archaeology Museums. Istanbul is renowned for its historical treasures, and these museums are among the finest places to experience the richness of our cultural heritage. The Istanbul Archaeology Museums provide a perfect opportunity to look at history with respect and admiration.
The Istanbul Archaeology Museums are an ideal choice for anyone who wishes to immerse themselves in the enchanting history of ancient civilizations. As you explore the traces of ancient cultures, you will be captivated by the magic of the past. It's an educational resource for those curious about history, and it offers a range of interactive exhibitions to enrich your learning experience.
Visiting the Istanbul Archaeology Museums is the most magnificent way to connect with history. It allows you to delve into the depths of history, discover a captivating past, and understand the evolution of humanity. Among Istanbul's historical treasures, the Istanbul Archaeology Museums hold a prominent place that you should never forget.