The Museum of Anatolian Civilizations is a real gem, showcasing many of Turkey's best ancient treasures and providing excellent insight into the incredible amount of history that has played out here. Housed in a 15th-century bedesten (similar to a kervansary), the museum covers every major civilization that has had a presence in Anatolia, going back more than 10 millennia. Highlights of the vast collection include finds dating back to 7000 BC—among them famous mother goddess figurines and wall paintings of animals and geometric patterns from the neolithic site of Çatalhöyük, one of the oldest human settlements ever discovered. Other items on display include stylized stag figures and stunning gold jewelry from the Hatti (an Early Bronze Age culture); and Hittite artifacts, such as terra-cotta bull sculptures and vases.
Also noteworthy are the clay cuneiform tablets—the earliest written records found in Anatolia—from the Assyrian trade colonies period, as well as
a 13th-century BC bronze tablet (the only such bronze tablet found in Anatolia) recording a Hittite treaty. The section on the Phrygians—famous for their King Midas, who ruled from his capital at Gordion, near modern-day Ankara—features intricately carved and inlaid wooden artifacts dating back to the 9th and 8th centuries BC, including furniture, children's toys, and even an umbrella. A significant collection of monumental stonework from around Anatolia, including well-preserved neo-Hittite reliefs depicting the epic of Gilgamesh, from the archaeological site of Karkamış (Kargamış) in Gaziantep, is on display in the central hall.