Museum of the Ancient Orient

Given that almost the entire Middle East once formed part of the Ottoman Empire it’s hardly surprising that the Istanbul Archeology Museum boasts an extensive representative collection of finds from this area, especially from Mesopotamia, the strategically vital area that fell between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.

Perhaps the single most important item on display here is a clay tablet inscribed in Akkadian cuneiform. It’s a copy of the Kadesh Treaty, a document originally inscribed in silver that recorded a peace agreement between the waring Hittites and Egyptians in 1269 BC; it contains many elements that would be familiar to modern peacemakers as regards the treatment of prisoners etc.

More visually striking are the colorful glazed-brick friezes of lions, bulls and dragons that once ran out from the Ishtar Gate” in Babylon in what is now Iraq. Turcophiles will also want to look out for the finds from Samal, a late Hittite site near Gaziantep that was excavated in the late la”1 century, and the Assyrian reliefs from Aslantas, near the Syrian border.

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