Tuesday, July 25, 2017


Gülhane, Fatih - Istanbul - Turkey

GPS : 41°00'40.1"N 28°58'48.8"E / 41.011153, 28.980223

Ancient Orient Museum photo ancientorient_museum108.jpg


This museum is sperate section of the Archeological museum. It was originally built by Osman Hamdi Bey  in 1883 as Sanayi-i Nefise (Fine Arts School), the famous Ottoman painter and director of the Archeological Museum, as the first fine arts academy in Turkey. When the academy moved to Cağaloğlu in 1917, the building was converted into a museum and put under the direction of the scholar Halil Ethem. The building was later restored in the years between 1963 and 1973.

This is the first building to the left at the entrance of the Archeological Museum. Originally a school building, it was converted into a museum in 1917, and then modernized between 1963-1973. The artifacts brought here from Egypt and the Middle Eastern countries that were under Ottoman rule prior to World War I, and relics from ancient Anatolian civilizations comprise a unique and beautiful collection.

The collections of the Ancient Orient Museum 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.

The Ancient Orient Museum consists of the sections of Pre-Islamic Arabian Art, Egypt Collection, Mesopotamia Collection, Anatolia Collection, Urartu Collection and Cuneiform Documents, arranged according to regions; the cultures of the Arabian Peninsula, Egypt, Mesopotamia and Anatolia have been presented in historical order.

On the upper floor of the two-storey building, Anatolian, Mesopotamian, Egyptian and Arabic works of art are displayed. Statue of Naramsin, the king of Akad, the Kadeş Agreement, the Ishtar Gate and Zincirli statue are the unique works of art in the museum. Moreover, in this museum there is a "Tablet Archive" in which 75.000 documents with cuneiform writings are kept.

Two basalt neo-Hittite lions are placed at the entrance. The Mesopotamian, Egyptian and Anatolian sections are on the second floor. Some of the pieces on display are artifacts from the old and new Sumerian, Assyrian and Babylonian civilizations, the graves of the pharaohs and Arabic tomb stone, as well as Hatti-Hittite and Urartu relics. The museum has a very rich and rare collection of cuneiform inscriptions consisting of 70 thousand tablets.

This museum contains a rich collection of ancient Anatolian archeological finds, including Urarthian, Hittite,Akkadian, Babylonian,Sumerian, Assyrian and Aramaic objects, as well as seals from Nippur and a copy of the code of Hammurabi. There is also a considirable collection of pre-Islamic artifacts from the Arabian peninsula and ancient Egypt.


Gallery 1 : The statuettes sitting on patios are cubic human figures and the heads have been more carefully processed in comparison with bodies. In Timna, an ancient city in Yemen, many devotional statuettes similar to these statuettes were found in the sacred place in the cemetery. Therefore, it is thought that these should also be devotional statuettes. They are dated to circa 4th-1st centuries BC.

Gallery 5 : This inscription, dating from the 8th century BC and belonging to the Ancient Babylonian Era, is described as the world's oldest known love poem. According to the Sumerian belief, it was a sacred duty for the king to marry every year a priestess instead of Inanna, the goddess of fertility and sexual love, in order to make the soil and women fertile. This poem was most probably written by a bride chosen for Shu-Sin in order to be sung at the New Year festival and it was sung at banquets and festivals accompanied by music and dance.

Its translation:

Bridegroom, dear to my heart,
Goodly is your beauty, honeysweet,
Lion, dear to my heart,
Goodly is your beauty, honeysweet.

Bridegroom, let me caress you,
My precious caress is more savory than honey,
In the bedchamber, honey-filled,
Let me enjoy your goodly beauty,
Lion, let me caress you,
My precious caress is more savory than honey.
Bridegroom, you have taken your pleasure of me,
Tell my mother, she will give you delicacies,
My father, he will give you gifts.

You, because you love me,
Give me pray of your caresses,
My lord god, my lord protector,
My SHU-SIN, who gladdens ENLIL's heart,
Give my pray of your caresses

Gallery 5 : Hammurabi was the sixth one of the 11 kings of the Old Babylonian Dynasty. He ruled 43 years long, between 1792 and 1750 BC. The second year of his rule is the year "when the code was enacted". The original version was inscribed on 2.23 m tall diorite stele. This stele was found in Susa and transferred to the Louvre Museum. The code consists of 282 laws and three sections. The version displayed in the İstanbul Archaeological Museums was one of those copied to tablets to be used in schools and courts, and it was found in Nippur.

Gallery 7 : The Treaty of Kadesh, the earliest peace treaty known, was concluded between the two big political and military powers of the 13th century BC, the Hittite and Egyptian empires. The clay tablet containing the text of this treaty sealed by Hattusili III, the king of the Hittite empire and the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramesses II was found during excavations at Boğazköy in 1906.

Before the emergence of this artifact, only the text of this treaty carved on a stele in the Egyptian Tempel of Karnak in Egyptian hieroglyphs was known. In the inscription, it is stated that Hattusili III had made the text of the treaty carved on a silver plate and sent to Egypt; but this version could not be found yet. The tablet in Akkadian, then the language of diplomacy, had many missing pieces and contained only about half of the text. During later excavations, four pieces belonging to the main text were found and the missing parts were completed. The text of the treaty sealed under equal conditions reads:

"It is concluded that Reamasesa-Mai-amana (the cuneiform transcription of Ramesses II) , the Great King, the king (of the land of Egypt) with Hattusili, the Great King, the king of the land of Hatti, his brother, for the land of Egypt and the land of Hatti, in order to establish a good peace and a good fraternity forever among them." Later, information about the ancestors of the two kings and their efforts aimed at achieving peace are described repeatedly, before the articles of the treaty. Those articles may be listed as follows:

"If domestic or foreign enemies marches against one of these two countries and if they ask help from each other, both parties will send their troops and chariots in order to help. If a nobleman flees from Hatti and seeks refuge in Egypt, the king of Egypt will catch him and send back to his country.

If people flee from Egypt to Hatti or from Hatti to Egypt, those will be sent back. However, they will not be punished severely, they will not shed tears and their wives and children will not be punished in revenge."

Since it is the first written peace treaty in the history, a 2-meter long copper copy of the original tablet was hanged on a wall of the United Nations building.

Gallery 7 : The limestone sphinx dated to the 13th century BC was found in Yerkapı (literally "ground gate"), on the upper city walls of Boğazköy, capital of the Hittite Empire. An identical sphinx is in the Berlin Museum. It is one of the four sphinxes located at the entrance and exit for purposes of protection. It was completed by assembling many pieces. As this lion-bodied and human-headed sphinx wears the head-dress of Hathor, one of the goddesses of Egypt, it reflects the heavy Egyptian influence in the art of Hittites. Probably, there had been gemstones in the currently hollow and empty eyes of the statue, which is one of the outstanding examples of the Hittite sculpture.

Gallery 4 : The aurochs and dragon reliefs formed by terracotta and glazed and embossed bricks belong to the monumental double-gate connecting the inner and outer walls of Babylon, the capital of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, dedicated to goddess Ishtar. The walls of the gate are ornamented with reliefs of aurochs, the holy animal of the god Adad, and the dragon sirrush (or mushhushshu), the holy animal of Babylon's chief god, Marduk. Meanwhile, the reliefs of lion, the holy animal of the goddess Ishtar, were ornamenting the two sides of the Processional Way. The monumental way was starting from the temple of Marduk in the city center, passing the Ishtar Gate and ending at the "feast house" outside the city wall, where the New Year's celebration was held. The Ishtar Gate and the Processional Way were built during the era of Nebuchadnezzar II, the most glorious period of the Neo-Babylonian Era, in late 6th century BC. A model of the gate and the processional way is displayed too. Many elements of the structure are in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin. .

Gallery 3 : According to the inscription on the diorite piece of stele, it belongs to King Naram-Suen (also transcribed Naram-Sin). It was found in Pir Hüseyin, a village near Diyarbakır. As it shows the borders of the Akkadian State in the era of Naram-Suen and reflects the artistic features of that era, it is one of the most important evidences about the Akkadian culture. King Naram-Suen, who ruled in the 3rd millennium BC, entitled himself as the "King who brought peace to 4 regions".

This title is representing the 4 principal directions and symbolizes Naram-Suen's becoming the "King of Universe" after conquering the cities of Ebla and Elam, i. e. the west and the east. Dynamism, the most apparent feature of the Akkadian art, may be seen in this stele. In similar steles, the weapons in the hands of kings symbolize the authority of the king, rather than concrete tools used during battles. Additionally, the kings depicted in this manner, announce that they personally assume the responsibility of protecting the people and goods entrusted to them.

Gallery 4 : The most important artifact from the ancient city of Adab is the limestone statue of Lugaldalu. The inscription on its shoulder introduces him as the "King of Adab" and the statue is stated to have been devoted to E-shar, the temple of the chief god of Adab. Lugaldalu, who was not listed in the Sumerian king lists, is thought to be a governor of Adab in circa mid-3rd millennium BC. This is one of the 'deputy priest' statues placed in the temples according to the Sumerian belief. Those statues continued to express gratitude to the god on behalf of persons they were representing, when they were out of the temple.

Gallery 2 : In the Ancient Egypt, it was believed that the soul was returning, after leaving the body with death. Since the belief in afterlife was very widespread and deep-rooted, tomb finds constitute a large part of Egyptian artifacts that reached today. It was believed that afterlife could only be normal in case of the existence of the body. Therefore, depending on their social positions, Egyptians were buried in monumental tombs such as pyramids, mastabas and rock-cut tombs or in ordinary graves dug into sand.

In the monumental tombs, the mummy was placed into two or three nested sarcophagi. The wooden, anthropoid sarcophagi were found during excavations at Deir el-Bahri, the burial place of the city Thebes. They belong to the priests and priestesses of the temple of God Amun, the Lord of Thebes. Inner and outer surfaces of the sarcophagi were plastered with thin layers of gypsum and they were ornamented with religious texts, charmed symbols that would protect the dead in the afterlife and mythological scenes.

In a sarcophagus displayed uncovered, the mummies of Bak-Na-Mut and his cat next to his feet are seen. The internal organs extracted before mummification were mummified and placed into canopic jars. The lids of these jars were the heads of the four gods guarding dead persons. The stomach was stored in the jar of falcon-headed Imseti, the lungs in the jar of baboon-headed Hapi and the liver in the jar of falcon-headed Horus. Sometimes, the mummy was covered with bead nets, wooden pillows were placed under its head and bead baskets made of straw were placed into the tomb chamber.

Gallery 1 : This sundial, which has a concave surface divided into 12 equal segments with eleven radial lines, was found in Mada'in Saleh, Saudi Arabia. It has an Aramaic inscription and it is made of red sandstone. The shadow of the perpendicular rod at the center falls on different lines according to the movement of the Sun and it shows the time.


WEB SITE : Ancient Orient Museum

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