Sunday, February 23, 2014

96. The Istanbul Archaeological Museums

The Istanbul Archaeological Museums is a complex of three museums set in a beautiful garden next to the Topkapi Palace  - and consisting of 

1. Museum of the Ancient Orient 
2. Museum of Islamic Art ( the Tiled Kiosk )
3. Archaeological Museum 


... my first "museum queue" in Istanbul !!! ...

The complex houses over one million objects that represent almost all of the eras and civilizations in world history that have left traces in Turkey. 

In the 19th century efforts were in place to modernize the Ottoman Empire, as many of the leading statesmen were exposed to Westernizing ideas through education and travel, and the decision to establish an imperial museum under the Education Ministry was first discussed in 1869 - then in 1881, Turkish painter and archaeologist Osman Hambi Bev was appointed its first curator. 

The site of the museums belonged to the Topkapi Palace outer gardens see previous blog ... ), and it was the first museum to feature Turkish art. 

Since an imperial decree protecting cultural goods in the Ottoman empire was enforced, many governors from the provinces would send in found artifacts to the capital city - in that way the museum was able to amass a great collection. 



The Museum of the Ancient Orient was commissioned by Osman Hamdi Bey in 1883 as a fine arts school. Then it was re-organised as a museum, which opened in 1935, and today consists of artifacts from pre-Greek Anatolia and Mesopotamia and from pre-Islamic Egypt and Arabian Peninsula. Most of these artifacts were found during archaeological excavations carried out between late 19th century and the World War I, and brought to İstanbul, the capital of the Ottoman Empire, then the ruler of those countries. 

4th century BC

King of Tyana - late Hitite period - 8th century BC

Terracotta and glazed bricks relief from the outer wall of Babylon - 6th century BC


King of Adab - 3rd century BC



The Tiled Kiosk ( now the Museum of Islamic Art ) was commissioned by Sultan Mehmed II in 1472. It is one of the oldest structures in Istanbul featuring Ottoman civil architecture, and was a part of the Topkapı Palace outer gardens.

It was used as the Imperial Museum between 1875 and 1891 before the collection moved to the newly constructed main building. It was opened to public in 1953 as a museum of Turkish and Islamic art. 

The collections of the Tiled Kiosk Museum consist of about 2000 tiles and pottery artifacts belonging to the Seljuk and Ottoman eras, dating from the 11th-20th centuries. These artifacts include those that existed when the museum was incorporated into the İstanbul Archaeological Museums and those acquired through excavations, purchases, donations and confiscations.


Main entrance

Ornamental ceramic balls - hung from candles - 18th century


... Most of the ceramic vessels date from the 15th century ...
















Tiled Mihrab ( from a kitchen ) - 14th century

The main building - The Archaeological Museum – opened in 1891. The facade of the building was inspired by the Alexander Sarcophagus and the Sarcophagus of the Mourning Women, both housed inside the Museum. 


This building houses sculptures from Archaic Era to the Roman Era, as well as a huge exhibition of artifacts from various ages found during excavations of archaeological sites of Anatolia and surrounding cultures such as Syria, Palestine and Cyprus. 

... Roman era sarcophagus ...






detail


... thousands of artifacts found during excavations of archaeological sites ...

... The Alexander Sarcophagus ... dated 332 BC ...
belonging to Abdalonymus - 
made King of Sidon by Alexander the Great  ...

detail

detail

The Sacophagus of the Crying Women - dated 360BC
... thought to belong to Straton - an earlier king of Sidon ...

... he led a life of pleasure  
and the 18 women represented on the four sides 
are thought to be those of his harem ... 

... detail ...

... Roman era sarcophagus ...

detail

... Roman era sarcophagus ...


detail

detail


A beautiful museum complex featuring interesting artifacts from the region ... I arrived this Saturday afternoon just in time for a classical music concert held in one of the darkened chambers by members of the Istanbul State Opera Company - an added treat ...