Scramble for the Past / İstanbul Archaeological Museums tour
During the month of February, SALT Interpretation is hosting high school classes for critical tours of the Scramble for the Past: A Story of Archaeology in the Ottoman Empire, 1753-1914 exhibition at SALT Galata and the İstanbul Archaeological Museums. Considering the collection of artifacts by institutions, from the founding of the British Museum in 1753 to the development of the Museum of Islamic Pious Foundations in the Ottoman Empire (today’s Museum of Turkish and Islamic Arts) in 1914, students will discuss the race for antiquities during this period, and the resulting movement of artifacts from one site to another. What does it mean to move an object from its original context, and what role does archaeology play in this practice?

One of the opening exhibitions at SALT Galata, Scramble for the Past: A Story of Archaeology in the Ottoman Empire, 1753-1914 presents the rich and intricate story of archaeology in the Near East in a chronological narrative around selected archaeological sites. Exploring archaeological activities in social, cultural and political contexts across a wide geographical area that spans from Greece to Egypt, the exhibition examines local and foreign archaeological initiatives undertaken in the land of the Ottoman Empire over a period of nearly two centuries. Principal materials in the exhibition include reports by Western and Ottoman explorers, books that share their experiences travelling across this region with plans and maps, and selected documents and photographs expressing the involvement of the Imperial Museum in the Ottoman Empire and the race to attain artifacts immediately after the museum’s establishment. These materials are corroborated by objects excavated and transported from major archaeological excavation sites in Greece, Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Egypt to İstanbul at the time.

The İstanbul Archaeological Museums are located in İstanbul’s Sultanahmet neighborhood, on the Osman Hamdi Bey slope connecting Gülhane Park with Topkapı Palace. The institution is comprised of three museums: the Archaeological Museum, the Ancient Orient Museum and Tiled Kiosk Museum. Among the Archaeological Museum’s collection are the Alexander Sarcophagus, Sarcophagus of the Crying Woman and Sarcophagi of Tabnit.

Tour duration: 2 hours. Transportation is provided to and from school and between SALT Galata and the İstanbul Archaeological Museums.