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Anadolu Medeniyetleri Müzesi (Museum of Anatolian Civilizations)
Anadolu Medeniyetleri Müzesi (Museum of Anatolian Civilizations) Review
The Museum of Anatolian Civilizations is a real gem, one of the two places in Ankara that you should definitely not miss (the is the other). Many of Turkey's best ancient treasures are housed here, providing some insight into the incredible amount of history that has been played out in these lands. The museum covers every major civilization that has occupied this territory, going back nearly 10 millennia. Though the museum is relatively small and descriptions are in English, a guide may be helpful in directing your attention to the most important pieces. Agree on a price in advance.
The museum is housed in a restored 15th-century bedestan (similar to a caravanserai), with exhibits arranged chronologically, starting to the right of the entrance and proceeding counterclockwise. One of the highlights is the section on the Neolithic site of Çatal Höyük (near Konya), one of the oldest human settlements ever discovered. The findings, which date to circa 7500 BC, include wall frescoes, bull heads, pottery, and the famous mother goddess figurines for which Çatal Höyük first became known.
Also particularly striking are the Hatti artifacts, with their stylized stag and bull sculptures and drawings. From the Assyrian trade colonies period (1950-1750 BC) come numerous clay cuneiform tablets, the earliest written records found in Anatolia. These palm-size tablets, some enclosed in their own clay "envelopes" and describing marriage contracts, debt notices, slave trading, and other everyday transactions in minuscule cuneiform script, are fascinating. These are followed by bronze sculptures, including more bull figures, from the Hittite period, and a copy of the 13th-century BC Treaty of Kadesh, the world's first known peace treaty. The clay tablet recording a copy of the treaty—the original of which was etched in silver—was found at the ancient Hittite capital Hattusa, some 200 km (124 mi) east of Ankara. The museum's central hall displays monumental stonework from around Anatolia, including a series of well-preserved neo-Hittite reliefs depicting the epic of Gilgamesh, from the archaeological site of Karkamis in Gaziantep.
About a third of the museum—including the Urartian, Phrygian, and Roman sections—will be closed through 2012 for renovations. In the interim, highlights of those sections are displayed in temporary cases in the main hall.
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