One of the finest example of archeological pieces in Turkey can be found in a silent room away from the tourist crowds. 18 mourning women surround the four sides of a sarcophagus in Archeology Museum of Istanbul; they look sad, some of them weep, some stands still- are they the wives of the King or are they some of the paid women to mourn in funerals as it was custom in Middle East in ancient times? This sarcophagus was found in Sadia in 19th century by Ottoman governors, an ancient city in today’s Lebanon, it was then the territory of Ottoman Empire. Today, along with the famous sarcophagus of Alexander and others they are exhibited in Archeology Museum which is situated inside the complex of Topkapi Palace.
Once you enter the gardens of the Topkapi Palace and pass the St Irene Church on the left hand side take the road on the left right after the church and walk down- you will reach the complex of Archeology Museums which soon you will see on your right. Archeology museums are made of three separate museums: the Archeology Museum, The Tiled Pavillon and the Museum of the Ancient Orient. This may be named as the first museum of the Imperial Period. The Ottomans started to collect archeological pieces in fifteenth century during the period of Sultan Fatih; they were then collected in St Irene Church. An important figure, Osman Hamdi, who is known today to be the first Ottoman archeologist has a significant role in founding the museum.
After seeing the Archeology Museum you may then visit the and the Tiled Pavillon in front of it where you will find the examples of this Ottoman art. You may then pass to the Museum of Ancient Orient with an important collection from Mesopotamia to learn about pre-Greek and Pre-islamic civilisations. End your visit in the pleasant garden café of the museum watching more of the collection in the garden, including the Head of Medusa.
Archeology Museums are open everyday except Mondays and you need to pay for the ticket that will include access to all three museums. If you are in Istanbul in May do not miss to visit at night on the day of European Museums!