The Magnificent History Behind Istanbul Archaeology Museum

Born and raised Istanbulite. Keeping an eye on the opportunity to explore this ancient city even more. Trying to do the best for nature.

Archeological Museum, one of the important historical places in Istanbul, Turkey’s first museum. Approximately one million works brought from the lands captured by the Ottoman Empire are exhibited in this museum. This is actually a museum complex. In addition to the archeology museum, the Old Oriental Works Museum and Tiled Pavilion are also located in this complex.

1. History of the Building

The history of the building also gives secrets about Istanbul history. The most magnificent city, Istanbul, was chosen by the Ottoman Empire for the display of valuable items. The works exhibited in the İstanbul Archeology Museum were previously exhibited in Hagia Irene. Until then, all of the works that were collected started to be exhibited in 1869 under the name “Imperial Museum”. During the Ottoman Empire, the exhibition in Hagia Irene continued. However, the works were so many that they did not fit in Hagia Irene. Later, the Tiled Pavilion was turned into a museum. Tiled Pavilion, the only example of Ottoman civilian architecture in Istanbul, has architectural influences from the Seljuks. Tiled Pavilion was converted into a museum under the name of the Imperial Museum since 1880 during the Ottoman Empire. This place also goes down in history as the oldest architectural work built by Fatih Sultan Mehmet. However, the architect is unknown. This building remained quite idle until Osman Hamdi Bey was appointed as the director of the museum.

2. Osman Hamdi Bey

Osman Hamdi Bey became the museum director in 1881. As of this year, a great revolution took place in the Ottoman Empire. First of all, another building built by Osman Hamdi Bey in the same complex as the Tiled Pavilion in 1883 was built as a fine arts academy. This building is currently located in a complex that also includes the Old Oriental Works Museum. Nowadays, it serves as an educational institution under the name of Mimar Sinan Fine Arts Academy. This place goes down in history as the first school of fine arts opened during the Ottoman Empire. Osman Hamdi Bey is the first Turkish archaeologist. He provided the knowledge of archaeology to be valid in the Ottoman Empire. The most important find is the Sayda King’s Cemetery in Lebanon. During these excavations, he found the world-famous İskender Tomb. Osman Hamdi Bey, one of the first Turkish painters, also goes down in history as the first museum director in the Ottoman period. Osman Hamdi Bey was one of the intellectual names of the time. The picture called Turtle Trainer is very important. The Ottoman Empire had a period called the Tulip Age (1718 – 1730). This period was a romantic period. Entertainment was at the forefront. Some historians say that during this period, the sultans put candles on the shell of the turtles in their gardens, making their fun evenings more lively with this “moving light”. According to a rumor, Osman Hamdi Bey painted a man trying to train these turtles. This is a work inspired by an ancient Japanese engraving. According to another rumor, Osman Hamdi Bey tries to modernize a society that resists change through art. Osman Hamdi Bey did the same work a year later. Although there are minor details differences, the study is in the same composition. Both works are exhibited in Turkey.

3. History of The Museum

The oldest of the building complex is the Tiled Pavilion. Turkish tiles and ceramic works are exhibited here. It is one of the oldest examples of civil architecture in the Ottoman Empire period. In addition to the Tiled Kiosk, the building, which was used as the Museum of Ancient Orient Works, was built by Osman Hamdi Bey in 1883 as an Academy of Fine Arts. The Archeology Museum is a building built just to be a museum. In this sense, it stands out like the rare number of species in the world. It is one of the best examples of the neo-classical architect. The Ottoman inscription on the pediment (inscription hanging on the door) can be translated as “museum of antiquities”. This article is found under a monogram made by Sultan Abdulhamid II. When you enter here, you will only feel the following: The Ottoman Empire brought a piece of culture that is captured and put it in this museum. He also added his own culture.

4. What to see?

The museum and the works exhibited are of great importance for the history of the Ottoman Empire and Istanbul history. There are three separate structures in the İstanbul Archeology Museum. We wrote that the oldest of the buildings is the Tiled Pavilion. Three separate buildings, together with their collections, are as follows:

Archeology Museum

From the 9th century BC, busts, sculptures and other pieces that were obtained in all periods and brought to Istanbul are exhibited. Here you will see about a million works (not a joke!). A fascinating place. Many works brought to Istanbul from Sidon (Sayda Lebanon) King Necropolis Excavation found by Osman Hamdi Bey and accepted as the greatest discovery of the period is exhibited in this museum. Among the works are important sarcophagi such as Alexander Sarcophagus, Lycian Tomb, Tabnit Tomb, and sculptures of various gods and demigods.

Old Oriental Works Museum

The museum has 4 main collections. There are Anatolian, Mesopotamian, Egyptian and Arabian peninsula artifacts in the collections. The Anatolian and Mesopotamian section works contain pre-Greek periods. The works of the Egyptian and Arabian peninsula sections include pre-Islamic periods. The works that are grouped by regional classification, the historical development of the Arabian peninsula, Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Anatolian cultures are presented separately.

Tiled Pavilion

Tiled Pavilion, which is an art branch developed by the Turks, is exhibited in the Tiled Pavilion. This mansion, where Islamic and Ottoman tiles and ceramic works are exhibited, carries distinct beauties. This building, which has been repaired many times because it is an old building, was restored in 2005 and opened to visitors.

5. What other sights are near the Archaeological Museum?

You may need more than half a day to visit the Archeology Museum and the entire complex. Since the museum is in the Old City district, you can visit other historical monuments around the museum. After leaving the museum, you can see Topkapı Palace, Hagia Sophia, Hagia Irene and Gulhane Park.

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