Ishtar Gate – Images from Istanbul Archaeological Museum

Istanbul Archaeological Museum located near Topkapi Palace in the Sultanahmet neighborhood is an extraordinary museum. I have been twice and will visit again on my next solo travels to Istanbul Turkey – one of my favorite cities. Ishtar Gate and Processional Way was constructed around 575 BC and was the eighth gate within the walls of the ancient city of Babylon. The city is located around 50 miles south of Baghdad Iraq.

Ishtar was the Babylonian goddess of fertility, love, war, wisdom and sexuality – talk about multi-tasking! The gate features lions, dragons, and aurochs (bulls) and was made of lapis lazuli glazed mud brick.

You can watch a short (less than 7 minutes) video about the Ishtar Gate and Processional Way here.

The Ishtar Gate was a double gate and the smaller front portion has been reconstructed and is on display at the Pergamon Museum in Berlin. It was stolen from Babylon – excavated is the term used by the thieves who remove artifacts from their original location – by Robert Koldewey of Germany in the early 20th century. Pieces of the Processional Way were also stolen and are located at various museums around the world – one of them being the Istanbul Archaeological Museum.


Auroch - an ancient bull - from the Ishtar Gate - stolen from Babylon by Germany and on display at Istanbul Archaeological Museum

auroch – an ancient bull – from the Ishtar Gate


Ishtar Gate - glazed mud tiles depicting an auroch - ancient bull

Detail of auroch from Ishtar Gate


Dragon from Processional Way of Ishtar Gate - stolen from Babylon and farmed out to museums around the world

Dragon from Processional Way of the Ishtar Gate


Baked mud tiles with a relief of lions - Ishtar Gate

Lions roar and march along the Gate of Ishtar


Ishtar Gate - on display at Istanbul Archaeological Museum - originally built in the ancient city of Babylon

Detail of lion from the Ishtar Gate – on display at Istanbul Archaeological Museum


Ishtar Gate features images in tile - auroch - an ancient bull

Detail of tile work – head of auroch – an ancient bull – Ishtar Gate


Auroch - an ancient bull - is depicted in glazed mud tile - Ishtar Gate - Istanbul Archaeological Museum

auroch – an ancient bull – is depicted in glazed mud tile – Ishtar Gate


What are your thoughts about artifacts excavated (stolen) many years ago?

Do you think artifacts should be returned to their country of origin?


How to get to Istanbul Archaeological Museum :

Address: Osman Hamdi Bey Yokuşu Sk, 34122.
Phone Number: +90 212 520 77 40
Hours: daily 9AM – 7PM
Admission Cost (as of July 2015): TL 15
How to Get There: Tram station: Gülhane (Kabataş-Bağcılar line)


About the Author

Susan Moore's first solo travel experience was traveling around SE Asia for 7 months in 1993. It was life changing and extraordinary. Currently Susan is living a nomadic life, working and roadtripping around the USA and Canada. You can reach Susan Moore at Facebook or Twitter


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  1. Vidhya Rao says:

    Of course they should be returned to the origin. It makes more sense that way. A thief who not only stole but had the audacity to display for public viewing!

  2. Roger Green says:

    I especially like the closeups!


  3. Hildred says:

    Fascinated with these ancient civilizations and their wonderful accomplishments. Thank you for sharing your adventures – really enjoyed the video.

  4. Reader Wil says:

    Your photos are absolutely magnificent! Of course excavated artefacts should be taken back to their original locations. May be museums can borrow them from time to time or replicas from them.
    Wil, ABCW Team.

  5. Nonnie USA says:

    so sad that in the past, no thought was given on the excavation and taking away of artifacts! I hope that that has changed and that artifacts are going back to their country of origin. your photos capture these exotic images on the gate.

  6. Lovely artifacts and presentation…I am hopeful the artifacts eventually will make their way back to their origins♪

  7. Ann says:

    I remember reading about this when studying King Nebekanezar (sp) in church.

  8. chrisj says:

    I think the British Museum has at least one of the lions from the Ishtar Gate. The sad thing is that when many of these items were ‘excavated’ they were not considered of any value to those in the country where they belong. As education has become more widespread the owners now realize their value, but if they had not been excavated they may not have been preserved.

  9. Cris says:

    All these artifacts are fascinating!

  10. SamuraiFrog says:

    I had an art history course in college where we spent some time on the Ishtar Gate and I’ve always been struck by the tiles. That shade of blue is my favorite color.

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