Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Istanbul Archeological Museum

"The Istanbul Museum of Archeology is among the richest museums in the world today with its collection of over a million pieces that carry traces of various periods and cultures in world history."
This is stated upfront in the pamphlet available at the front desk of the museum and without any prior knowledge of the exhibits, I wasn't quite sure of what to expect.

Over the past few days in Turkey, I have been taking in a lot of history and antiquity. Much more than what a normal Singaporean can absorb since Raffles came to our shores in 1819. My travelling buddies and I have also developed a lingo that cuts straight to the point. We are either "overwhelmed" or "underwhelmed" ! Nothing in between. As for this museum, I can safely say that we were quite overwhelmed.

I was surprised at the pristine condition of some of the statues. At least the heads were intact. And most of all, I learned a new word - Sarcophagus. The Sarcophagi of Alexander the Great, King Tabnit and that of the mourning women are just among the famous antiquity unearthed in the Royal Negropolis of Sidon by archaeologist, painter and curator Osman Hamdy Bey. With western powers carting off lock, stock and barrel of antiquity from the ancient worlds to enrich their museums, Osman oversaw in 1884 a regulation prohibiting historical artifacts within the Ottoman Empire from being smuggled abroad. The Turks must be really proud of him. 

As I was wondering whether bodies were still within the sarcophagus, I was standing just above one which was placed under the glass floor . Imagine if the guards didn't notice me and locked up the museum for the day. Yikes !

A bust of Alexander the Great 

Statue of Hermaphroditus, a mythological being in which characteristics of male and female are combined

Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty and love

Apollo playing the Cithara

Statue of Oceanius (God of Rivers)

Statue of Poseidon, God of the Sea

Statue of Artemis, Goddess of the moon, forests and hunting

Bust of Emperor Augusta

The Alexander sarcophagus 

The sarcophagus of mourning women

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