Friday, 9 January 2009

More Ancient Art.

I also visited the Archaeological museum - this comes in 3 parts - one part has the ancient stuff, including the worlds oldest peace treaty (between the Hittites, and the Egyptians, as I recall, and dating back to 1200 BC), a handful of mummies and several panels from the Ishtar Gate, from Babylon.

Much of the Gate is in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin, and having seen it there, the much smaller number of panels here was slightly less impressive,although again, looking at something which dates back to old testament times.

The Gate was built in the 6th C BC, on the orders of King Nebuchanezzar. This is the same King Nebuchanezzar who, in the bible, was responsible for throwing Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego into the fiery furnace, and also had various other run-ins with god - it's a wonder he had any time over for building works!

A lot of this part of the museum was closed - but in some ways this is an advantage, as you focus on a smaller selection.

The second section of the museum also had several sections closed off, but the parts which were open had a lot of classical remains - various sculptures and carvings from Aphrodisias and Ephesus in astonishingly good condition, a lion from the mausoleum of Mausolus at Helikarnassas, which (The mausoleum, not the lion, obviously) was one of the original 7 Wonders of the World and a whole lot of sarcophagi and Lycian tombs.

I was interested to see the Lycian Tombs, as there is one in the garden of the Post Office in Fethiye, where I started this holiday. On the left, we have the Fethiye Tomb/Sarcophagus. On the right, and in slightly better state of preservation, the one in the Istanbul Museum.

I believe that both date to around the 4th C BC.

One of the most impressive artifacts is the 'Alexander Sarcophagus' - (the Alexander in question being Alexander the Great) It isn't his sarcophagus - depending on which guide you read, it was either given that name because it was originally thought to have been prepared for him, before being used by someone else, or because he is depicted on it,(he's the one on the horse which is being attacked by the lion, in the bottom picture) or both. The museum says it is the sarcophagus of King Abdolonymus of Sidon, who was appointed as King by Alexander, (he was apparently a gardener before he was a King, which seems to me to be pretty good, as far as career progression goes)

The sarcophagus was dug up in 1887, and in places you can still see traces of the original paint - that's what the pinkish bits are. I tend to forget, looking at classical statues etc. that they were originally all painted, and fairly garishly, too. I wonder, would we be quite so impressed if they were still so bright?

It does seem impressive, when you think that you had to wait for the renaissance to come along, 1800 years later, to get this standard of art again!

The final section of the museum is the 'tiled pavilion', which does exactly what it says on the tin. It was built in 1472 for the then sultan, who used it as a base from which to watch sporting events.

This makes it earlier than either the Blue Mosque or Topkapi Palace, and I was interested to see the difference in the style of the tiles - the pavilion had much bigger, bolder designs - I think I would have pegged it the other way around, had I not read otherwise.

Inside are examples of ceramics, and an alcove containing a rather lovely peacock, which appeared to be part of the original decor - I think the alcove was a fountain, originally, but I may be mistaken.

And all of this for just 15 lira!

1 comment:

Dragonsally said...

Oh the tiles, and that peacock. Simply splendid.
I've wondered the same thing about the painted statues, and also why you'd paint beautiful marble.