May 2, 2011 2 Comments
May 1, 2011 Leave a comment
On our way to the Topkapi Palace yesterday we past some of the excavations at the Sultanahmet. It had viewing platforms and walkways. I was not on those viewing platforms and walkways. To add insult to injury I later learnt that I had somehow in my visit to the Istanbul Archaeological Museum missed 8000 Years of İstanbul “In the Daylight”: Exhibition of Marmaray, Metro, Sultanahmet Excavations. Human remains were uncovered during Istanbul’s Marmaray and Metro projects in Uskudar, Sirkeci and Yenikapı, pushing back known human occupation of Istanbul to 8000 years ago. Neolithic huts, long boats and harbour dating back to Theodosius were also among the significant finds.
The exhibition is meant to be permanent having started in 2007. Travel agencies from 2011 note it as an attracton. The museum website puts it in the Assos hall. I’m pretty sure I saw said hall from above under renovation. There were other galleries on the museum website map that I saw no entrance to (that weren’t behind a door closed in an uninviting way). Somehow in my two and a half hours of meandering I completely missed the galleries I was most interested in. I found the noticeboard announcing archaeological lecture series (on the way to the toilets) but not the rooms about Istanbul’s most exciting new excavations. This is what happens when an archaeologist is a) to cocky and cheap to buy a map and b) doesn’t have their GPS with them.*
Even if I can’t find my way around it the Istanbul Archaeology Museum does some things very well. Each room explains where the collections come from (eg. Donations, excavations, seizures) and why the artefacts are displayed in a particlar way. For instance, signs tell you that where provenance is uncertain material is arranged thematically. The Troy artefacts are displayed as per their stratigraphic layer. Aerial photos, stratigraphic profiles, superimposed site plans and sometimes a little 3D scale model are also provided. Nice. On the opposite side of the room bilingual posters summarise the major trends for Paleolithic, Neolithic, Chalcolithic and Bronze Ages. The Palaces of Istanbul is a great little temporary exhibition (not mentioned on the English language website). It combines high resolution prints from the uber-cool <a href="Byzantium 1200 project with a small number of archaeological finds to give a snapshot of the history and material culture of Sultan palaces. A bit of housekeeping and a bit (okay, probably a lot) of money could bring the Istanbul Archaeological Museum in line with some of the great museums of the world.
*May not be applicable to other archaeologists.