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Ancient Orient Museum

The building which today houses the Museum of the Ancient Orient was built in 1883 to house the Academy of Fine Arts founded by Osman Hamdi Bey. After two years of restoration financed by Garanti Bankasi, the museum has now reopened. The building was designed by the celebrated architect Alexandre Vallaury in neo-renaissance style, and an extension later built in neo-Greek style.

When the Academy of Fine Arts moved to new premises in Cagaloglu in the early 20th century, the old building was converted into a museum by Halil Edhem Bey to exhibit finds from the ancient cultures of the Near East. German museologist Eckhard Unger, who worked at the museum in 1917-1919 and 1932-1935, arranged the exhibits. During repairs which began in 1963 the porch was demolished and some structural changes made to the interior. The museum reopened in 1974. Over recent years this museum and its sister   institution Istanbul Archaeological Museum have adopted a contemporary approach to exhibition design, and both the old building and the displays have been reorganised. As a result they received the Council of Europe Museum Award in 1993. The Museum of the Ancient Orient   collections consist of pre-Islamic works from   the Arabian peninsula, Egypt, Mesopotamia and   Anatolia. A large proportion of the Pre-Islamic Arabian collection (4th century BC - 1st century AD) come from southern Arabia, with a smaller number from Nabatea in northern Arabia. They mainly consist of inscriptions, relief panels, tombstones and votive figurines.The Egyptian collection (2575 BC - 1st century AD) comprises finds from excavations, pieces donated from private collections, and chance finds, and includes sphinxes, steles, altars, sarcophagi, and finds from tombs and temples. The Mesopotamian collection (5000 - 6th century BC) consists largely of finds from excavations carried out between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers prior to the First World War. There are also some important chance finds from Sab in northern Mesopotamia, Hadatu south-west of Urfa, Pir Huseyin near Diyarbakir, and Tel Abta west of Nineve.The Anatolian collection (4000-1000 BC) includes finds from excavations prior to the First World War, such as those carried out by German archaeologists between 1882 and 1894, and at the Hittite capital Hattusas in central Anatolia in 1907-1912. Some of the objects were also purchased from private collections. This collection represents the Late Chalcolithic Period, Early Bronze Age Hattian Culture, Middle Bronze Age Colony Period settlements, Old Hittite, Hittite Empire and Late Hittite Kingdoms.

Source: Sky life 10/2000 

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