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Ishtar Gate Babylon

Halfway between Gülhane Parkı and Topkapı Sarayı is a most interesting museum complex, the Arkeoloji Müzeleri. The museum complex (closed on Mondays) consists of a courtyard with three separate exhibit areas, of which the most important are the Archeological Museum or Arkeoloji Müzesi and the Museum of the Ancient Orient or Eski Şark Eserler Müzesi. Both museums contain rich collections, of which the Alexander sarcophagus and the glazed brick friezes that once decorated the Ishtar Gate in ancient Babylon at the time of Nebuchadnezzar II (605 - 562 BC), are certainly the highlights.

The Archeological Museum is housed in an impressive neoclassical building, dating from 1896, that occupies the whole right side of the courtyard. In the lobby we are confronted with a colossal statue of Bes, the Cypriot Hercules, who holds up a headless lioness by her hind paws. The statue comes from Cyprus and dates first to third century AD. The southern half of the museum houses an extensive collection of sculptures, grave stelae and sarcophagi of the archaic, classical, Hellenistic and Roman periods. Very touching is the funerary stele from Amisus (Samsun) showing the deceased bidding farewell to his two young sons. a large head of the poetess Sappho from Smyrna (Izmir), a Roman copy of the Hellenistic original. In the southern half of the museum contains a number of extraordinary sarcophagi that were discovered by Osman Hamdi Bey, director of the museum, at Sidon Lebanon in 1887. The most famous of these is the magnificent Alexander sarcophagus. Its name derives from the fact that it is decorated with a deep relief showing Alexander in hunting and battle scenes. The sarcophagus was made for King Abdalonymos of Sidon.

Opposite the Archeology Museum is the Museum of the Ancient Orient. It houses a unique collection of pre-Islamic Arab, Babylonian, Hittite and Assyrian artifacts. Among these, the glazed brick panels of lions, dating from the reign of Nebuchadnezzar II (605 - 562 BC), that once decorated the Ishtar gate at ancient Babylon are the most outstanding. Noteworthy are also the neo-Babylonian statue of Puzur-Ishtar, Governor of Mari, and the neo-Assyrian statue of King Shamaneser III.

A visit to both museums is easily combined with a visit to Topkapi palace museum.

Here are the photos of the Archeological Museums, click on the thumbnails to see greater pictures

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