What to see and do in Istanbul - Archaeological Museum, ReadyClickAndGo

The oldest-known love poem was written in Mesopotamia 4,000 years ago and can be found inscribed on a slab of stone in Istanbul’s Archaeological Museum. It was probably written by a priestess, Enlil, to the ruler of Babylonia, Shu-Sin, to celebrate their sacred marriage which represented the union of the Goddess of Love and Fertility and the king and God of Shepherds, and which was to bring fertility and prosperity to the land in the coming year.

Bridegroom, dear to my heart,

Goodly is your beauty, honeysweet,

Lion, dear to my heart,

Goodly is your beauty, honeysweet.

You have captivated me, let me stand tremblingly before you.

Bridegroom, I would be taken by you to the bedchamber,

You have captivated me, let me stand tremblingly before you.

Lion, I would be taken by you to the bedchamber.


It was found in present-day Iraq in the 19th century by the archaeologists of the Turkish Ottoman Empire, and brought back to Istanbul to the newly-created Archaeological Museum that was set up to house finds made by Turkish expeditions from Lebanon, Syria, Persia and beyond that would otherwise be nabbed by smugglers and sold to other nations who were also keen on finding antiquities – in fact you can see sister-pieces of many of the museum’s exhibits in other great museums around Europe.

Istanbul’s Archaeological Museum was the first museum in Turkey but nevertheless ranks as one of the finest and largest in the world with over a million objects. It’s close to Topkapi Palace, on the way to Gulhane Park so very close to Sultanahmet and the other major sights of the city, and is well worth a visit on a day tour of Istanbul. The museum itself is in 3 parts, the main part is in a handsome neo-classical building which houses ancient statues galore from before the Romans, the exquisitely carved Alexander Sarcophagus which depicts the life and battles of Alexander the Great, the evocative Sarcophagus of the Crying Women, the Treasury, Library, coin collections and artefacts unearthed from excavations nearby that form an exhibition of Istanbul through the ages. It stands next door to the 500-year-old Tiled Kiosk which was a royal pavilion beautifully decorated with turquoise tiles and calligraphy, originally the emperors’ private hideaway a little way away from the main palace, and it exhibits ceramics. The Museum of the Ancient Orient is the 3rd section and it was built originally as the School of Fine Art. It houses artefacts from Mesopotamia, Egypt and Arabia, and one of its treasures is that lovely poem, another is the oldest peace treaty in the world,  inscribed on a clay tablet in the 12th century BC, a 13th century BC sphinx from the Hittite Empire, and loot from an Egyptian tomb.

The museum is open 9am to 5pm from November to March, and from 9am to 7pm the rest of the year, and is closed on Mondays. Entrance fee 10 TL for all 3 sections.

For more information about day tours in Istanbul please email Tara@ReadyClickAndGo.com or check our website at www.ReadyClickAndGo.com



About the author: Tara


The travel professional with years of experience in the travel industry – in guiding, reservations, operations, contracting, customer service and product development – and have travelled extensively in Asia and Eastern Europe not just on holiday but also for work, inspecting hotels, visiting attractions and seeing exactly what each destination has to offer. The only way I could do this properly was with my own guide, car and driver and this inspired me to create my own range of customised private day tours for other people to be able to explore in-depth and learn to love their destination as much as I do.

Website: www.readyclickandgo.com