Thursday's Child: Istanbul Archaeology Museums

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Lycian Sarcophagus
The Istanbul Archaeology Museums are a collection of three buildings, situated next to the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul.  Between them, they house nearly a million archaeological pieces.  We visited two of the buildings, and were staggered by the breathtaking collection that we saw.


The first, and largest, building that we visited is simply known as Archaeological Museum, and it holds pieces from a number of ancient civilizations, including Greece, Turkey and the Roman Empire.  The Alexander Sarcophagus is probably the best-known artifact.  A carving along one of the sides depicts Alexander the Great at war against the Persians and, despite its name, the sarcophagus actually belonged to the king of the Persians.  Carvings along the other sides depict animal hunts.  This sarcophagus is considered one of the most artistic and best-preserved anywhere in the world.

The Sarcophagus of Tabnit
Mummy of King Tabnit
The Sarcophagus of Tabnit is also a renowned part of the collection.  King Tabnit was one of the rulers of Sidon, in modern-day Lebanon.  The coffin was built in the shape of a human, and is beautifully carved. The king’s mummy was removed from the sarcophagus and lies in display under glass beside it.  This was done in defiance of the inscription on the tomb, which warns potential grave robbers that they’ll be cursed if they disturb his body. Inscriptions are in both Egyptian hieroglyphics and the Phoenician alphabet.


Statue of Alexander the Great




We were fortunate to visit in early 2010, when The Discus Thrower was on loan from the British Museum.  Note that when this statue was sold to an English collector in the late eighteenth century, while it was being restored the head was placed incorrectly on the statue.  It should face toward the discus, not the ground.


Having been awed by the Archaeological Museum, we went next door to see The Museum of Islamic Art in the Tiled Kiosk.  Last week I wrote about how I love small museums and this was no exception.  Just a couple of rooms, it was full of light and colour, and we fell in love with the collection immediately. 

The kiosk was built in the late fifteenth century, and was originally part of the Topkapi Palace before being annexed by the museum.

The Mihrab from the Ibrahim Bey Mosque.  A mihrab is a niche in the wall of a mosque
 that indicates the direction of Mecca, and thus the direction that should be faced in prayer.

This tiled peacock fountain was one of the most beautiful items in the collection.



21 comments:

Belinda said...

Wow - amazing how so much is preserved. You wonder what would get preserved now...copies of Kim Kardashian's countless self-photos? What will the future think of our society today?

Natalie Aguirre said...

Amazing pictures Beth. And that's so awesome that you got to go there.

Carol said...

Fantastic museum! I didn't know about the discus throwers head. Interesting. This museum is a must see place, what a collection.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

You should be a travel columnist, Beth. Or are you?

Great photos!

bakewithjill.com said...

Wonderful, as always! I made it to the palace but not the museums; now they're on my list if I get back to Istanbul.

Beth said...

Wish I was, Stina. What a great job that would be!

amy (fearless homemaker) said...

What an awesome group of museums! And I love the tidbit about how the discus thrower's head was put on incorrectly! =)

Kitcheninspirations said...

Turkey is somewhere we've talked about going; my Hungarian Aunt and Uncle visited in the 1970's (they were only permitted to visit a few countries in those days). My Aunt had nothing but nice things to say.
How fortunate to have actually seen the Discus Thrower, I can imagine how breath taking it was. I was very fortunate to see the actual David in Florence many years ago and it was amazing.

Valerie said...

The sarcophagus is beautiful, it looks almost new! And the poor discus thrower...how embarrassed the restorer must have been when he realized his mistake. (As a child I did something similar when I broke my mom's music box.) :P

Gorgeous photos, Beth! You always make me want to pack a suitcase and travel.

Lorraine said...

Hi Beth! Love visiting this museum with you and seeing these awesome photos. well all but the bony guy :)

Monet said...

What a gorgeous museum. Istanbul is on our "must-travel" list so I am already looking forward to the day we get to explore it!

yummychunklet said...

What fantastic artifacts! Thanks for sharing.

Lizzy Do said...

Wow, what impressive art! Love that peacock fountain, too...looks like Istanbul will also go on my bucket list :)

Claire Davis said...

Oh I would love to visit Istanbul. I agree that small museums are the best. Beautiful artwork!

Guru Uru said...

The history evident here is stunning my friend :D

Cheers
Choc Chip Uru

Joanne said...

Who knows if I'll ever get to go to Istanbul but at least I've gotten to experience it a bit through this post! Gorgeous photos.

lisa is cooking said...

I'd love visit Istanbul some day. I seem to keep learning more about the city lately. What amazing pieces from the museums. The blue Mihrab is beautiful!

Angie's Recipes said...

You make me want to visit Istanbul right away! Amazing photos.

Jess said...

Love these museum posts! I haven't been to a museum for a long time, but I'm going to see a Van Gogh exhibit in Denver this Saturday~ I'm pretty excited about it :)

Medeia Sharif said...

What richness of culture and history. I'm glad I stopped by.

Ashlea Taylor said...

Wow, what an amazing visit to Istanbul! Thanks for the lovely tour.

Post a Comment