Archaeological Museum

Istanbul, Turkey

These pictures are from the Archaeological Museum in Istanbul.
(High-Res) Dig deep enough anywhere in the Eastern Mediterranean and you will eventually find a statue of Alexander III of Macedon ("Alexander the Great"). This statue was accompanied by an inscription that stated:
"Menas of Pergamon, son of Alias, made [it]."
(High-Res) Alexander's haircut would set the standard for military leaders for centuries. In his earlier years, Pompey (Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus or "Pompey the Great") prided himself on his mane of Alexander-like hair.
(High-Res) This is the so-called "Lycian Sarcophagus" from the Royal Necropolis of Sidon (in modern Lebanon). The necropolis, belonging to line of Phoenician kings from middle of the fifth century BCE to the latter fourth century BCE, was discovered in 1887 by a Lebanese villager who was digging a well.

Although from Sidon, this sarcophagus resembles the Lycian sarcophagi (hence the name) which can be found in Anatolia. This side of the sarcophagus depicts five mounted hunters in Thracian attire.

(High-Res) This is the so-called "Alexander Sarcophagus," also from the Royal Necropolis of Sidon. It is a 4th century BCE sarcophagus adorned with bas-relief carvings of Alexander ("the Great") engaged in various violent activities.

Contrary to popular belief, this is not the sarcophagus of Alexander himself (who was buried in Alexandria, Egypt), but probably that of Abdalonymus, Alexander's appointee to the kingship of Sidon.

(High-Res) This is a close-up of the Alexander Sarcophagus. (High-Res) There are a number of monumental porphyry sarcophagi in the courtyard of the Archaeological Museum. Once located in the crypt of the Church of the Holy Apostles, they once contained the remains of the early Byzantine emperors.
(High-Res) Built in 330 CE by Constantine I ("the Great") and enlarged and reconsecrated by Justinian I ("the Great") on June 28, 550, the Church of the Holy Apostles was traditionally the burial place for the imperial family during the early years of the Byzantine Empire.

Unfortunately, these tombs were plundered of their valuables by the Crusaders during the Fourth Crusade (1204). For instance, the crown was ripped off of the skull of Heraclius (reigned 610 - 641) with the hair of the long-deceased emperor still attached to it. Some of these objects can still be seen in Venice, where the Crusaders (under Doge Henrico Dandolo) sent their loot.

When Constantinople fell to the Ottomans in 1453, the Church of the Holy Apostles briefly became the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church before being demolished in 1461 by Mehmet II ("the Conqueror") to make way for Fatih Mosque.

(High-Res) A bust of the Tiberius (reigned 14 - 37 CE), the second Roman Emperor.
(High-Res) Certainly numbered among the very worst of the Roman Emperors, Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus (better known as Caligula: "the Little Boot"), reigned from 37 - 41 CE. Using pigment samples from an ancient statue of Caligula, archaeologists have been able to come up with this reconstruction of his appearance. (High-Res) This second century CE relief of the Gigantomachy was found in Aphrodisias. It depicts Athena attacking (and defeating) two giants.
(High-Res) This impressive Byzantine era piece is among the many which are stored in the courtyard of the Archaeological Museum. Note the sleepy cat, taking a rest underneath this ancient stone. (High-Res) Less significant artifacts line the shaded walkways near the museum.
(High-Res) This pillar with a strange peacock feather motif is similar to a pillar which is in the Basilica Cistern (Yerebatan Sarayi), the vast Byzantine water storage tank underneath the Sultanahmet district. Both pillars were originally from the same ancient building in the Forum of Theodosius (which was "recycled" during the early Byzantine period). (High-Res) This medusa head, which sits outside of the Archaeological Museum, reminds one of the medusa heads which can be seen in the Basilica Cistern.
(High-Res) This is one of the three serpent heads from the so-called Serpent Column (located in the Hippodrome). Originally from the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, the column commemorated the victory of thirty-one Greek city-states over the Persians at the Battle of Plataea (479 BCE). The bronze serpents are said to have been made from the shields of fallen Persian soldiers.

Constantine I ("the Great") removed the column from Delphi and planted it in the courtyard of Haghia Sophia, where it stood before being moved to the Hippodrome in the 9th century CE. The three serpent heads vanished during the Ottoman period (allegedly removed by a Polish diplomat in April of 1700). This one was rediscovered in 1847 and is now in the Archaeological Museum.

(High-Res) This is a piece from the famous porphyry statue of the Tetrarchy of Diocletian. The majority of the statue was taken from Constantinople in 1204 during the Fourth Crusade. It now resides in the south-west corner of St. Mark's basilica in Venice. The missing piece (pictured) was discovered in the 1960's during excavations in Istanbul.