After World War I, when Antalya was under Italian occupation, Italian archaeologists began to carry various archaeological artifacts they had captured to the Italian Consulate. In 1919, Süleyman Fikri, a teacher, had himself appointed as the asar-ı atika (antiquities) officer and started to collect artifacts and work on establishing a museum.
In 1930, Süleyman Fikri, the teacher who guided Atatürk during his visit to the ancient city of Aspendos, established the museum in the Alaeddin Mosque in 1922 and in the Yivli Mosque in 1937. In 1972, it moved to its current building.
Antalya Archaeology Museum is one of the largest museums in Turkey, hosting many artifacts from the Paleolithic Age (Chipped Stone Age) to the present day due to the fact that it is home to many civilizations and civilizations.
Perge Ancient City, Myra Ancient City, Phaselis, Aspendos, Patara, Xanthos, Limyra, Arykanda, Termessos, Olympos, Simena archaeological sites, Karain Cave and the priceless artifacts unearthed as a result of excavations in the Noel Baba Museum are brought here.
Antalya Archaeology Museum, which is among the best museums in the world considering the valuable artifacts it hosts, was awarded as the Museum of the Year by the Council of Europe in 1988.
The 2-story Antalya Archaeology Museum consists of a total of 13 halls. The artifacts are exhibited in chronological order and according to their subjects.
Natural History and Prehistory Hall: The period from the emergence of man with the production of tools until the invention of writing is called prehistory. In the prehistory period hall, also called prehistory, pebbles, hand axes, scrapers and bone tools left behind by the hunter-gatherer society are exhibited.
It is also possible to see the teeth and skeletal remains of Neanderthal people who lived in the Mesolithic Period (Chipped Stone Age), which were excavated from Karain Cave, 27 km from Antalya.
The reason why the skeletons of cavemen, the human species that lived between 200,000 and 28,000 years ago, can be found in Karain Cave is because limestone caves have features that preserve fossils. The first Neanderthal fossil was found in the Neander Valley in Germany, hence the name.
Hall of Small Artifacts I: In this hall, ceramic finds from the 12th to 3rd century BC are exhibited in the display cases, except for the two display cases reserved for cosmetics and jewelry.
Hall of Gods: The statues found in the ancient city of Perge, which are thought to belong to the Roman period, are exhibited in this hall. Among the statues are Zeus, the king of the gods, and many gods including Aphrodite, Tykhe, Athena, Artemis, Nemesis, Hygieia, Hermes, Dioskurlar.
Hall of Small Artifacts II: Artifacts from different cultures between the 4th century BC and the 6th century AD are on display. In addition, the underwater showcase contains artifacts recovered from an ancient sunken ship.
Hall of Emperors: The most distinguished examples of Roman sculpture are exhibited in the Hall of Emperors. In addition to the sculptures, all of which were found in the ancient city of Perge, there are three beauties and a statue of a belly dancer made of black marble, which is also the symbol of the Antalya Archaeology Museum.
The statue of the dancer is not a monolithic sculpture, it was created by the interlocking of marble blocks found during the excavations at Perge in 1981. The 2.25 meter tall statue is unknown by whom it was made.
Hall of Sarcophagi: In the sarcophagi hall, there are various sarcophagi, most of which were excavated from Perge and smuggled abroad by antiquities smugglers, but were later recognized and brought back to where they belong.
Dimitias Sarcophagus: One of the sarcophagi in the hall is the sarcophagus of Domitias Philiska and Domitias Iulianus built in the 3rd century AD during the Roman Period. The 2.56-meter-long sarcophagus shows a husband and wife lying down on its lid.
The man has placed one hand on his wife’s shoulder and with the other hand he is holding the roll, which expresses the importance given to science and art. Eros, the expression of happiness, sits in the two corners.
Around the Tomb of Domitias are figures in high relief. On one of the long sides there are people sitting on the left and right, holding rolls in their hands. On the columns in the center, two women and a man are standing.
The grave owner couple’s appreciation of art is emphasized. On the other long side, there are people holding rolls again and a man gesturing friendship with his hand.
On one of the short sides there are people holding rolls, while on the other side there is a depiction of Hades, the god of the underworld. This depiction depicts a bull being burned and offered to the gods.
Tomb of Heracles: The Heracles Sarcophagus in the Sarcophagus Hall is a sarcophagus that was found as a result of excavations in Perge, but was smuggled and discovered in Geneva, Switzerland and brought back to Antalya.
On one of the 2.35 m x 1.12 m side faces of the Heracles Sarcophagus, there is a door to the underworld and guards. The other three depict the 12 tasks of Heracles.
In the depictions, the aging process of Heracles can be observed along with his duties. On one side of the long sides, Heracles is depicted fighting against the Lion of Nemea, strangling it with his hands, and making armor for himself by flaying its hide, grabbing the dragon Hydria by the hair and about to tear off its head, capturing the wild boar on the Eurymanthos mountain, defeating the golden horned deer belonging to Artemis, and killing the Birds of Lake Stymphalos.
On the other long side, he is depicted defeating the angry bull named Minotauros, killing Diomedes, the owner of wild horses eating human flesh, killing Hyppolite, the queen of the Amazons on her horse, killing the three-headed giant, overcoming the three-headed dog Kerberos.
The Herakles Sarcophagus, which has a triangular roof structure with a Medusa head at the ends protecting the tomb, has lion-headed antefixes at the ends of the roof tiles.
Girland Sarcophagus: The Girland Sarcophagus was taken by smugglers to be exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum in New York, where it has been on display since 1995. This type of sarcophagus is called Girland Sarcophagus, also known as Pamphylia Type Sarcophagi, because of the flowers, leaves and fruits on it.
The long and short sides of the sarcophagus are like a continuation of each other. The girlands surrounding the sarcophagus are decoratively knotted together. At the corners, there are Nikes holding palm branches and Cupids sitting on pedestals.
On the long sides are theater masks and Medusa heads, and on the short sides there is one Medusa head each. These masks and Medusa heads were made to protect the tomb from evil.
At the same time, in the hall, there is a tomb type belonging to the Early Roman Period, which was unearthed for the first time in the Ancient City of Patara, since there was no suitable ground for rock tombs in Patara.
Mosaic and Icon Halls: The most important of the mosaics is the mosaic of philosophers found in the Seleukiea excavation, which includes the names of famous thinkers, historians, orators and mathematicians of antiquity.
Coin Hall: This section includes gold and silver treasures as well as the Anatolian coin minting tradition and technique from the 6th century BC to the present day.
Ethnography Halls: In the ethnography halls, Ottoman and Seljuk artifacts such as tiles, porcelains, religious artifacts, watches and jewelry, locks and keys are exhibited.
Children’s section: The children’s section at the entrance of the museum is the first of its kind in a museum. In this room, miniature models of ancient artifacts such as the Karain Cave, Patara and Aspendos are presented together with entertaining introductions.
The Tired Herakles Statue: Prof. Dr. Jale Inan found the lower part of the Tired Herakles Statue in 1980 while he was heading the excavations in the ancient city of Perge and brought it to the archaeological museum for exhibition.
The upper part of the statue was discovered by journalist Özgen Acar in the United States in the 1990s. Recently, the upper part of the Herakles statue, which was specially brought from America, was mounted on the body and opened to visitors.
The statue is one of 60 Roman copies of the original Heracles Farnese, made in 330 BC. Made by the famous sculptor Lysippos, the statue has a legend. As you know, Heracles is a very powerful demigod. He is given various tasks and Heracles has to complete them.
One of these tasks is to kill the lion of Nemea forest. After killing the immortal Nemea lion, which no weapon can kill, he rests on his staff. This is the legend behind this work, which can be seen in the sarcophagi section of the museum.
Prof. Dr. Jale Inan, who examined the important lines of Heracles Farnese around the world, stated that the statue exhibited in the museum was superior to other statues and therefore requested that the statue be known as Heracles Farnese of Perge.