When archaeologists from the University of Ankara and Scotland's University of St Andrews excavated around the nearby Arasta Bazaar in the 1930s and 1950s, they uncovered a stunning mosaic pavement featuring hunting and mythological scenes. Dating from early Byzantine times, it was restored between 1983 and 1997 and is now preserved in this museum.
Thought to have been added by Justinian to the Great Palace of Byzantium, the pavement is estimated to have measured from 3500 to 4000 sq metres in its original form. The 250 sq metres preserved here is the largest discovered remnant – the rest has been either destroyed or remains buried underneath the Blue Mosque and surrounding shops and hotels.
The pavement is filled with bucolic imagery and has a gorgeous ribbon border with heart-shaped leaves. In the last room is one of the most colourful and dramatic pictures, that of two men in leggings carrying spears and holding off a raging tiger.
The museum has informative panels documenting the floor's history, rescue and renovation.