Izmir, the pearl of the Aegean, which has a rich and long history of 8.500 years, witnessed many mighty civilizations from Hittites to Ionians, Lydians to Persians, Hellenes to Romans and Byzantines to Ottomans and traces of which are spread all around in the province of Izmir.
With its Archeological Museum that houses a marvelous collection of antiquities, Izmir, known as “Smyrna” in ancient times, and whose name is said to have derived from a beautiful queen of Amazons, the legendary female warriors, offers an enjoyable and fascinating journey to the visitors through the Aegean history and art.
Considered to be one of the first museums built in Western Anatolia, Izmir Archeology Museum is categorized as a regional museum rather than a local museum due to the strikingly beautiful works of art it displays.
Situated at Konak, the heart of the city, the museum can be reached easily by walking up from the Konak Square. Above the municipal bus station a little curving service path amongst the high trees leads the visitors to the gate of the Izmir Archeology Museum.
HISTORY OF MUSEUM
The archaeology museum was established in 1924 in an abandoned Church called Ayavukla in the Basmane district of Izmir and opened to the public in 1927 after the work collection activities of three years.
The archaeology museum was moved to the National Education Pavilion in the Culture Park that was converted into a museum in 1951. However, a new and larger museum was required due to excessive and outstanding artifacts brought from Izmir, ancient Smyrna, and the neighboring cities of antiquity. A new museum was established on an area of 5000 m² in Bahribaba Park in Konak and opened to the public in 1984.
The works of art yielded by excavations carried out in various parts of the region, such as Bayraklı (ancient Smyrna), Ephesus, Pergamon, Miletus, Aphrodisias, Clazomenae, Teos, Iasos and so on are exhibited in this museum and in the back and front gardens and illuminate the history of the western part of Anatolia.
The three-storey Izmir Archeology Museum consists of two exhibition floors, an open-air exhibition area, laboratories, a storage room where the objects are classified and protected, repair shops, a conference hall and administrative offices.
GROUND FLOOR-ENTRANCE HALL
In the center of the entrance hall a bird’s eye view of a mosaic that lies on the basement can be seen from the balustraded upper floor. The mosaic that has a design of animals and plants was brought from Kadifekale and made of pebbles and glass.
Just at the entrance of the Hall of the Stone Works stands an informative map of Turkey indicating the civilizations flourished in Anatolia throughout history that may be of help to the visitors to understand the historic evolution of the country and to appreciate the artifacts presented in the museum.
GROUND FLOOR- HALL OF STONE WORKS
Marble works such as large marble statues, busts, portraits and masks are displayed on the middle floor, which is the entrance floor of the museum. The charming stone works belong to Hellenistic (330-30 B.C.) and Roman (30 B.C. - A.D.395) Periods. The statuettes made of marble are also displayed in classifications in four showcases on this floor.
A glass case at the entrance of the “Hall of Stone Works” contains various figures of Cybele, the Anatolian mother goddess who symbolized fertility. The origin of Cybele went far back into prehistoric times and later she evolved into Artemis. There are also votive steles presented by worshippers in veneration of different deities.
Among the most impressive statues displayed in this hall are statute of a priest from Halicarnassos (Roman Period), statute of two girls from Metropolis-Torbalı (Hellenistic Period), statute of Antinous as Androclos, legendary founder of Ephesus, (Roman Period) and the 2nd century A.D statue of an imperial priest wearing a diadem (forehead ornament) and a ring on his left hand finger from Ephesus.
THE UPPER FLOOR- EKREM AKURGAL HALL OF CERAMIC WORKS
The numerous archeological items ranged from Prehistoric Ages to the Byzantine Period are displayed in chronological order in the Hall of Ceramics Works that was dedicated to Prof.Dr. Ekrem Akurgal (1911-2002) who was one of the most celebrated archeologists of Turkey, and give a vivid picture of life through artifacts. Information panels illustrated with photographs give clear accounts of the customs and art of each period as well.
Ceramic works were produced not only for daily uses but also as works of art. Especially the ceramics that were made in the 7th, 6th and 5th centuries B.C. and decorated with various figures reflect the social lives, beliefs, customs, culinary cultures and the arts of the societies.
In this hall numerous objects from the Prehistoric Ages (Neolithic, Chalcolithic and Bronze Ages) to the Byzantine Period are exhibited. Among these collections are the ceramics of Prehistoric Ages, the ceramics of Mycenaean period, Geometric ceramics, Corinthian ceramics, Orientalizing period ceramics, Attica ceramics, Hellenistic ceramics, Roman and Byzantine ceramics.
The works of Prehistoric Period come from Baklatepe, Kocabaştepe (Tahtalı Dam Salvage excavations), Panaztepe (Menemen), Ulucakhöyük (Kemalpaşa) and Limantepe (Urla) moulds. The works of art belonging to other periods are from Klazomenai (Urla), Klaros (Ahmetbeyli), Erythrai (Ildırı), Teos (Sığacık), Pitane (Çandarlı), Gryneion, Myrina, Kyme (Aliağa), Iasos (Kıyıkışlacık-Milas).
The Western Anatolian ceramics of Protogeometric and Geometric Period, the red and black figured western Anatolian vases of Archaic Periods, samples of Mycenaean pottery, hydrias of Hellenistic Period, funeral urns containing the ashes of the deceased together with grave goods, various terra-cotta and glass vases, masks and figurines are some of the outstanding artifacts of Hall of Ceramic Works.
Plenty of important archeological findings from Bayraklı (ancient Smyrna) can also be seen in this hall including those from the Temple of Athena.
A strikingly beautiful Attic Lebes gamikos or marriage bowl unearthed in Bayraklı has black-figured decoration that depicts the marriage ceremonies of King Menelaus and beautiful Helen of Troy. This bowl is thought to be decorated by Sophilos, the first black figure artist who signed his works with his real name.
Gryneion (Hacıömerli) was another oracular centre in the region, and finds from excavations carried out at the necropolis here over recent years are exhibited. Excavations carried out by Professor Ekrem Akurgal at nearby Pitane (Çandarlı) have revealed not only burial findings, but also vases with eastern style decoration, characterized by motifs such as sphinxes, lions, palmets and lotus plants.
The section of terracotta sarcophagi of the Clazomenaean type is also noteworthy. The sarcophagi made in Clazomenae, a historical town near-İskele quarter of Urla town, 35 kms.west of İzmir, are remarkable with their colored geometric designs.
In the museum, the section of the bronze works is of special importance. As the bronze works were melted and reused again and again during the course of time, only a few of works have survived up to the present. A bronze statue of an athlete belonging to Late Hellenistic Period that was discovered off the ancient city of Kyme and the bronze bust of Demeter discovered by the sponge fishermen from the depths of the Aegean Sea off Bodrum (ancient Halicarnassos) are among the most noteworthy objects of the museum.
It is known that the winners of the Olympic Games were honored by their statues in the Ancient Greek and Aegean world. This bronze sculpture is supposed to describe an athlete, a winner of the javelin throwing games.
THE TREASURY HALL
In the Treasury Hall situated on the same floor with the Hall of Ceramic Works the electron, golden, silver, bronze and copper coins, glass works including perfume bottles and jewelries belonging to Archaic, Classical, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and Islamic periods, the golden mouth and eye bands, diadems, adornments made of gold, silver, precious and semi precious stones belonging to Hellenistic and Roman periods are exhibited.
EXHIBITION IN THE GARDEN
A rich selection of artifacts belonging to different periods such as sarcophagi, steles, statues, long friezes, phalluses, inscriptions and some capitals of various orders are arranged around the gardens as impromptu seating. The long frieze decorated with reliefs of garlands of fruit has many male and female heads in different types. The frieze brought from Aphrodisias dates back to 2nd century A.D. is worth visiting.
Halit Rıfat Paşa Caddesi 4. Konak
Phone : (+90.232) 489 07 96
Fax : (+90.232) 483 06 11
Opening hours: 08.30 - 12.00 & 13.00 - 17.00, closed Mondays.