Tag Archives: Istanbul ArchaeologyMuseum

Some Museums in Turkey

My Ancient Crossroads Tour of Biblical and Historical Turkey is compete. Yesterday most of the tour members returned home. A few had other plans of travel before returning.

There are some wonderful museums in Turkey, but many of them are undergoing restoration at this time.

We missed seeing the main section of the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations in Ankara due to restoration. A nice,  small section containing mostly classical materials was open, but the great collection of Hittite materials (our reason for going there) was closed. According to an article in the Harriyet Daily News it reopened last Friday.

The Archaeological Museum in Antakya (Antioch of Syria, Acts 11, 13) was almost bare. Only a few of the lesser quality mosaics were on the walls. A new museum will open soon. I had told the group that we would see some good Hittite materials there, but they had already been moved. Incidentally, the Church of St. Peter and the Simon Stylites Monastery were also closed for renovation.

We did better at the fabulous museum in Antalya (Attalia of Acts 14:25). The Roman period statuary from Perga in Pamphylia (Acts 13:13-14; 14:25) is housed there.

In Istanbul we were able to visit the Ancient Orient section of the Archaeological Museum. The museum containing material from the classical world was closed. An excellent selection of materials was housed in a small area of the Museum.  The third floor, where artifacts from Palestine are housed was closed. Our appeal for entry failed.  There is where some very famous pieces are housed − the Siloam Tunnel inscription, the Gezer Calendar, the Herodian Temple inscription forbidding gentiles from entering the Temple, et al.

The Ancient Orient building houses a large number of bulls, dragons, and oxen from the procession street of ancient Babylon. I think it is second only to the Pergamum Museum in Berlin. There are excellent Hittite materials, including the oldest treaty between nations. It is the treaty between the Hittites and Pharaoh Ramses of Egypt after the battle of Kadesh on the Orontes. There are several pieces from the Assyrians, and a clay cylinder from the time of Nebuchadnezzar.

Here is a picture of one of the basalt Hittite column bases from Sinjerli. It is a double sphinx, dating to the 8th century B.C., that came from the entrance to Palace III.

Hittite Column Base from Sinjerli. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Front view of Hittite column base from Sinjerli. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Below is the side view of this column base. Note that the figure of a lion shows a human head and wings of a bird. This provides a good illustration for the apocalyptic imagery in Daniel, Ezekiel, Zechariah, and Revelation.

Side view of Hittite Column Base from Sinjerli. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Side view of Hittite Column Base from Sinjerli. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

These are the Hittites with whom the ancient Israelites had dealings. Solomon imported horses and chariots from Egypt and Kue and exported them to the Hittites (1 Kings 10:29). See 2 Kings 7:6 for another reference to these people in the days of the prophet Elisha.

All things considered, maybe it didn’t turn out so bad after all.

Significant biblical artfacts in the Istanbul Museum

My favorite place in Istanbul is the Archaeological Museum. There are several buildings. One contains items from the Ancient Orient, that is, from Mesopotamia, Assyria, Babylon, and a collection of Hittite items. Another has numerous items from the Greco-Roman world. On the third floor artifacts from Syria, Palestine, Lebanon, and Cyprus, are displayed.

The Ottoman Empire controlled Palestine in from the 16th to the 20th centuries. The earliest archaeology in Palestine was done at Megiddo, Tanaach, and Gezer. Since the Turks were in charge, many of the artifacts were brought to Istanbul. These items have not always been easy to see. Once or twice, in past years, I had to made a “donation” to the museum in order to get in room where these items are exhibited. Even now, it is difficult (for older visitors) because there are no elevators going to the third floor.

There is not time now to mention all of these items. However, I am pleased to share with you what I consider an unusually good photo made without a tripod and special lighting. It is the famous Siloam Inscription. We sometimes call its the Hezekiah;s tunnel inscription.

This inscription was cut from Hezekiah’s tunnel in Jerusalem shortly after it was discovered in 1880. The tunnel was built to connect Gihon Spring with the Pool of Siloam (ca. 710 B.C.; 2 Kings 20:20; 2 Chronicles 32:30; cf. John 9:7). Palestine was part of the Turkish empire at the time of the discovery and this is how the inscription came to be in Istanbul. The inscription, written in the ancient Hebrew script, describes the completion of the tunnel when the workers met near the middle on the last day of work. It reads, in part:

while there were still three cubits to be cut through, (there was heard) the voice of a man calling to his fellow, for there was an overlap in the rock on the right (and on the left). And when the tunnel was driven through, the quarrymen hewed (the rock), each man toward his fellow, axe against axe; and the water flowed from the spring toward the reservoir for 1,200 cubits, and the height of the rock above the head(s) of the quarrymen was 100 cubits. (Ancient Near Eastern Texts 321)

I have walked through Hezekiah’s tunnel several times and have seen the place from which the inscription was taken.