Istanbul Archaeological Museum is open to visit from Tuesday to Sunday between 09.00am and 05.00pm.The museum is located in the first court of Topkapi Palace. Osman Hamdi Bey who was a famous Turkish archaeologist, diplomat and painter opened the museum both as a museum for the ancient antiquities conversation and as a school of fine arts in 1883.
The architect was a French man named Alexander Vallaury who combined the Beaux Arts Architecture with the traditional Turkish Ottoman art in 19th century. Today the museum houses in three different buildings. The Archaeological Museum, The Museum of the Ancient Orient and The Museum of Islamic art (Cinili Kosk).Because of the fact that more than a million unique objects exhibited in the museum and that the very successful renovations made in the entrance hall of the first building, The European Council awarded the museum in 1991 with The European Council Museum Award.
Among over a million objects exhibited in twenty galleries, probably the most outstanding ones are the Alexander Sarcophagus dates back to 4th century BC. This unique piece believed to be cut from marble for The Alexander the Great, The Quadesh (Kadesh) Peace Treaty from 1258 BC, the very first written peace treaty in the history signed by Ramses the second of Egypt and Hattusili the third of the Hittite Empire. A giant copy of Kadesh Peace Treaty today is on the wall at the entrance hall of United Nations Building in New York, NY.
The other most spectacular artefacts on exhibit in the museum are;
- The Sarcophagus of the Crying Women which was found in Sidon necropolis excavations
- The Stone Sarcophagus of Tabnit which gives an idea about the richness and the power of the Satrap for whom the sarcophagus prepared
- The Lycian tomb which reflects the combination of the Peloponnesian and the Lycian art is another artefact. The surface of that beautiful piece had been painted in brown, blue and dark red
- Snake’s head, taken from the famous Serpentine Column is situated in Hippodrome area in the old city district today in Istanbul
- The statues of The Temple of Zeus from Bergama
- A very rich collection of ancient coins, medals and seals from various times
- A great Troia exhibition
- The artefacts from the excavation of the Great Mausoleum of Mausollos from Halicarnassus
- The great cuneiform tablets collection from Bronze age period containing around eighty thousand pieces
- The inscription of Siloam which was found during the excavations of the Hezekiah Tunnel in 1838 excepted among the oldest records in Hebrew language
- The Zeus and the Alexander the Great Busts
- The very rich collection of the artefacts from the famous cities of antiquity like Ephesus, Miletus and Aphrodisias.
Istanbul Archaeological Museum is probably the richest museum in Turkey and a must see museum for those who have an interest in archaeology.