Turkish citizens can buy a yearly museum pass for about 15 dollars and can access the hundreds of museums around the country. I took this opportunity and bought one when I arrived Istanbul. My first visit was to the Istanbul Archaeology Museums which was founded by Osman Hamdi Bey in 1891.
I enter this immense courtyard surrounded with large buildings, next to the Topkapi Palace, bursting with more than one million archaeological findings ranging from the Kadesh Peace Treaty, the oldest known signed peace treaty between Ramses II of Egypt and Hattusili III of Hittite Empire (1258 BCE) to Alexander Sarcophagus (actually it is assumed to be the sarcophagus of the Abdalonymus, the king of Sidon) (4th Century BCE)
Alexander Sarcophagus (picture from Istanbul Archaeology Museums website)
Sarcophagus of the Crying Women (picture from The Istanbul Archaeology Museums website)
For me, the real gem at the museum is the Sarcophagus of the Crying Women. There are 18 delicate female figures deeply immersed in their mourning. Every one of them shows how deep a mourning can go. I am astonished to see how can 18 different ways of sorrow can be shown on 18 different faces. And they are just sculptures carved in marble. Even just on the stone, the sadness is captured forever. Their faces make you think how your face look like when you are sad. Their sad faces captured me. I took individual pictures of their faces to remember them. I wonder what I looked like when I mourned for my mother.
This sarcophagus was found in the Royal Necropolis of Sidon, the same place where they found the Alexander Sarcophagus. It is believed to be the Sarcophagus of Straton, King of Sidon (374-358 BCE). He might have lived a life of pleasure or he might have had many wives, hence the total of 18 mourning female figures. Whatever the reason was, there stands a beautiful sarcophagus that makes us think twice about love and death.