Hatay Archaeology Museum

Top choice museum in Antakya

This museum contains one of the world's finest collections of Roman and Byzantine mosaics, covering a period from the 1st century AD to the 5th century. Many were recovered almost intact from Tarsus or Harbiye (Daphne in ancient times), 9km to the south.

At the time of writing, the museum was in the final stages of a long-awaited move to purpose-built premises on the main road to Reyhanlı, about 1km past the Church of St Peter.

The new museum is set to provide a brilliant modern canvas on which to display the dazzling collection, much of which has never been put on show before, due to a lack of room at the old museum.

Among the museum's highlight pieces are the full-body mosaic of Oceanus & Thetis (2nd century) and the Buffet Mosaic (3rd century), with its depictions of dishes of chicken, fish and eggs. Thalassa & the Nude Fishermen shows children riding whales and dolphins, while the fabulous 3rd-century mosaics of Narcissus and Orpheus depict stories from mythology. Other mosaics in the collection have quirkier subjects: three of the museum's most famous are the happy hunchback with an oversized phallus; the black fisherman; and the mysterious portrayal of a raven, a scorpion, a dog and a pitchfork attacking an 'evil eye'.

As well as the mosaics, the museum also showcases artefacts recovered from various mounds and tumuli (burial mounds) in the area, including a Hittite mound near Dörtyol, 16km north of İskenderun. Taking pride of place in the collection is the so-called Antakya Sarcophagus (Antakya Lahdı), an impossibly ornate tomb with an unfinished reclining figure on the lid.


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