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Istanbul Archaeology Museum


Istanbul Archaeology Museum (Turkish: İstanbul Arkeoloji Müzesi), established in 1881, is one of the largest and most famous archaeological museums of its kind in the world. The museum houses over one million archaeological objects that represent almost all of the eras and civilizations in world history, i.e., the Mediterranean basin, the Balkans, the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia.


The extremely ornate Alexander Sarcophagus, believed to be prepared for Alexander the Great, is among the most famous pieces of ancient art in the museum. The Kadesh Peace Treaty (1258 BCE), signed between Ramesses II of Egypt and Hattusili III of the Hittite Empire, is another favourite of the visitors. It is the oldest known peace treaty in the world, and a giant poster of this tablet (treaty) is on the wall of the United Nations Headquarters in New York City.






The Archaeological Museum of Istanbul is located in the Eminönü district of Istanbul, Turkey, near Gülhane Park and Topkapı Palace. The Istanbul Archaeology Museum actually consists of three museums:


  • the main Archaeology Museum,
  • the Old Eastern Works Museum and
  • the Enameled Kiosk Museum.  i





The construction of the Main building was started by Osman Hamdi Bey in 1881, attaining its present form in 1908. The architect was Alexander Vallaury. The façade 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 Ancient Eastern Works Museum was commissioned by Osman Hamdi Bey in 1883 as a Fine Arts School. Then it was re-organized as a museum and opened in 1935. It was closed to visitors in 1963, and reopened in 1974 after restoration works on the interior.

The Enameled Kiosk Museum was commissioned by Mehmed II the Conqueror in 1472. It is one of the oldest structures in Istanbul featuring Ottoman civil architecture. It was used as the Imperial Museum between 1875 and 1891. It was opened to public in 1953 as a museum of Turkish and Islamic art, and was later incorporated into the Istanbul Archaeology Museum.

When the Museum opened to the public in 1891, it was the first Museum to feature Turkish art. The first curator was Osman Hamdi Bey, who was also the founder of the museum. It was among the 10 important buildings in the world in the late 19th century. 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. i


Istanbul Archaeology Museum Photo’s




Exhibited artifacts


The museum has a fantastic collection of Greek, Hellenistic and Roman artifacts, including the famed Alexander Sarcophagus. The most prominent artifacts exhibited in the museum include:

  • Alexander Sarcophagus, found in the the necropolis of Sidon.
  • Sarcophagus of the Crying Women, also found in Sidon.
  • Sarcophagi of Tabnit and the Satrap.
  • The Lycian tomb, a monumental tomb.
  • Statues from ancient times 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.
  • Statue of a lion, the only piece saved from the hands of British archaeologists in the Mausoleum of Maussollos.
  • Snake's head from the Serpentine Column erected in the Hippodrome.
  • 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.
  • One of the three known tablets of the Treaty of Kadesh.
  • The obelisk of the Assyrian king Adad-nirari III.
  • Tablet archive containing some 75.000 documents with cuneiform inscriptions.
  • Artifacts from the early civilizations of Anatolia, Mesopotamia, Arabia and Egypt.
  • Siloam inscription.  i



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Last modified: 2023-10-28


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