Istanbul Archaeology Museums
İstanbul Arkeoloji Müzeleri
|Established||13 June 1891|
|Location||Osman Hamdi Bey Yokuşu Sokak, Gülhane, Istanbul, Turkey|
|Collection size||1+ million objects|
|Visitors||382.148 (2011) |
The Istanbul Archaeology Museums (Turkish: İstanbul Arkeoloji Müzeleri) are a group of three archaeological museums located in the Eminönü district of Istanbul, Turkey, near Gülhane Park and Topkapı Palace.
The Istanbul Archaeology Museums consists of three museums:
- Archaeological Museum (in the main building)
- Museum of the Ancient Orient
- Museum of Islamic Art (in the Tiled Kiosk).
It houses over one million objects that represent almost all of the eras and civilizations in world history.
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. The proposal to have an imperial museum came about because of the familiarity of several key players in the Ottoman political scene with the Louvre in Paris. The Ottoman sultan Abdülaziz (r. 1861–1876) was impressed by the archaeological museums in Paris (30 June – 10 July 1867), London (12–23 July 1867) and Vienna (28–30 July 1867) which he visited in the summer of 1867, and ordered a similar archaeological museum to be established in Istanbul. The decision to establish an Imperial Museum under the Education Ministry came in 1869 with the appointment of a new director, but the idea of a museum was dropped with his resignation and because of budget restraints.
As education minister in 1872, Ahmet Vefik Pasha set up a museum directorship for the second time and hired the German historian, archaeologist, epigraphist and painter, Dr. Philipp Anton Dethier. He proved to be so successful at collecting materials that the idea of a purpose-built museum gained traction.
The site of the museums belonged to the Topkapı Palace outer gardens. The museum was founded by decree as the Imperial Museum (Ottoman Turkish: Müze-i Hümayun or Turkish: İmparatorluk Müzesi) in 1891. The first curator and founder of the museum was Osman Hamdi Bey. Since an imperial decree protecting cultural goods in the Ottoman Empire was enforced, many governors from the provinces would send in found artefacts to the capital city. In that way the museum was able to amass a great collection. Upon its 100th anniversary in 1991, the museum received the European Council Museum Award, particularly for the renovations made to the lower floor halls in the main building and the new displays in the other buildings.
The construction of the main building was started by Osman Hamdi Bey in 1881, attaining its present neo-Greek form in 1908. The architect was Alexander Vallaury (who also designed the Pera Palace Hotel in Istanbul). The facade of the building was inspired by the Alexander Sarcophagus and Sarcophagus of the Mourning Women, both housed inside the Museum. It is one of the prominent structures built in the neoclassical style in Istanbul.
The Museum of the Ancient Orient was commissioned by Osman Hamdi Bey in 1883 as a fine arts school. Then it was reorganised as a museum, which opened in 1935. It was closed to visitors in 1963, and reopened in 1974 after restoration works on the interior.
The Tiled Kiosk 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, and was later incorporated into the Istanbul Archaeology Museum.
Hours of operation, admittance fee
The museum is open to the public from 09:00 to 19:00, with ticket sales halting an hour before closing time; tickets are 20 TL. Closed on Mondays. 
Ancient Greek exhibition of the museum
Icon with relief Virgin Mary at prayer
Statue of Alexander the Great
Puzur Ishtar, governor of Mari
glazed brick panel from way to Ishtar Gate
The museum has a large collection of Turkish, Hellenistic and Roman artifacts, many gathered from the vast former territories of the Ottoman Empire. The most prominent artifacts exhibited in the museum include:
- Four sarcophagi from the Ayaa necropolis in Sidon:
- Glazed tile images from the Ishtar Gate of Babylon
- Statues from ancient antiquity until the end of the Roman Era, from Aphrodisias, Ephesus and Miletus
- Statue of an Ephebos
- Parts of statues from the Temple of Zeus found at Bergama
- A marble lion from the Mausoleum of Mausolus, one of the few pieces remaining in Turkey
- Snake's head from the Serpentine Column erected in the Hippodrome of Constantinople
- Mother-Goddess Cybele and votive stelai
- Busts of Alexander the Great and Zeus
- Fragments from the temple of Athena at Assos
- The Troy exhibit
- 800,000 Ottoman coins, seals, decorations and medals
- Two of the three tablets of the Egyptian–Hittite peace treaty (1258 BCE), signed between Ramesses II of Egypt and Hattusili III of the Hittite Empire. It is the oldest known peace treaty in the world, and a giant poster of these tablets containing the treaty is on the wall of the United Nations Headquarters in New York City.
- The Saba'a Stele of the Assyrian king Adad-nirari III
- Tablet archive containing some 75,000 documents with cuneiform inscriptions (including the Istanbul #2461 tablet, containing the oldest known love poem)
- Artifacts from the early civilizations of Anatolia, Mesopotamia, Arabia and Egypt
- Siloam inscription, which made headlines in July 2007 when Israel asked for its return
- Gezer calendar
- Balawat gates (one gate)
- Samaria ostraca
- "Ministry of Culture and Tourism - Museum Statistics". kultur.gov.tr. January 1, 2012. Retrieved December 5, 2012.
- "ARTS-CULTURE - Istanbul Archaeology Museum turning 120". Hürriyet Daily News. June 26, 2011. Retrieved February 20, 2012.
- "Sultan Abdülaziz - Avrupa Seyahati/Tarih/milliyet blog". blog.milliyet.com.tr. Retrieved 2018-02-28.
- "İstanbul Arkeoloji Müzeleri - Visiting Hours And Admission". Istanbularkeoloji.gov.tr. Retrieved April 22, 2017.
- "Istanbul Archaeology Museum". The New York Times. March 18, 2009. Archived from the original on May 24, 2012. Retrieved February 20, 2012.
- "Jerusalem seeks return of ancient tablet". USA Today. July 13, 2007. Retrieved June 24, 2010.
- "J'lem mayor turns Turkey on tablet". Jerusalem Post. July 13, 2007.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Istanbul Archaeological Museums.|
- Istanbul Archaeological Museums
- Istanbul Archaeology Museum page at the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism website
- Museum of Architecture – Istanbul Archaeology Museum
- Almost 1300 pictures from the museum by a private photographer
- Blog post about a visit to the Istanbul Archaeology Museum