The Istanbul Archaeological Museum is in the Court of Janissaries of the Topkapi Palace, on the high hill overlooking the Gülhane Park. It consists of three buildings – the Archaeological Museum properly, the Museum of the Ancient East, and the Museum of Turkish Ceramics (the Chinili Pavilion).
In the main building, that of the Archaeological Museum, which was opened for visiting in 1896, you can see interesting exhibits discovered during archaeological excavations, such as: richly decorated sarcophagi, bas-reliefs, various sculptures and household items of Hellenic and Roman periods.
The most precious exhibit of the Archaeological Museum is the sarcophagus from Sidon. It is believed that Alexander the Great himself was buried in the sarcophagus. For a long time it was thought that the coffin with the body of Alexander was captured by Ptolemy and buried in Alexandria. However, some other burial places are also indicated.
But in any case, the marble sarcophagus of Alexander is of a great historical value. It was made by Hellenic masters of 4 century B.C. The Battle of Issa is depicted on one of its bas-reliefs. The scene is very similar to that of the famous mosaic, which was discovered in Pompeii and is now stored at the archaeological museum of Naples. The hunting scenes with Alexander the Great and Tsar of Sidon are on the other bas-reliefs of the sarcophagus.
At the Archaeological Museum there are also the sarcophagus of spouses with 18 weeping women, discovered during the excavations of the Ancient Troy, the bust of Alexander the Great, the fragments of the Temple of Athene and many other things.
At the Museum of the Ancient East you can see the most precious collection of artifacts of ancient civilizations of the Asia Minor, including the text of the world’s first known peace treaty on clay tablets. The Kadesh peace treaty was concluded between Pharaoh Ramesses II and king of the Hittite empire Hattušiliš III after the Battle of Kadesh in 1283 B.C.
The Chinili Pavilion housing the Museum of the Turkish Ceramics is at some distance from the main building. It is a summer palace built in 1473 by the order of Sultan Mehmed Fatih. There you can admire beautiful examples of ceramics of 15-18 centuries.