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.
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.
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.