The Gaziantep Museum of Archaeology, located on İstasyon Caddesi (Station Road), is home to a large and varied collection of exhibits, some purchased and some obtained from archaeological excavations. As an area that has seen continuous settlement from the Lower Palaeolithic Period until today, Gaziantep began establishing its museums back in 1944, with the Archaeology Museum on İstasyon Caddesi opening its doors in 1969. Mosaics excavated from the ruins of ancient Zeugma and a growing number of other artefacts resulted in the museum running out of exhibition space, so in 2011 the mosaics were moved to their own Zeugma Mosaic Museum, and the government announced plans to redesign the Gaziantep Museum of Archaeology. In line with contemporary museum concepts, the exhibition halls have been enlarged creating new, modern display areas, and on 18 May 2017, the museum was reopened to the public.
A series of display units take visitors to the museum on a journey through history from the Lower Palaeolithic period to the early 20th century. This archaeological journey starts on the ground floor of the museum, winding its way in chronological order through the historical periods to relatively recent times. The walls of the ground floor display Gaziantep’s different historical periods and the names by which Gaziantep was known over the years.
The exhibitions start with fossils and rocks from past geological periods, and continue with the natural history of Gaziantep and a fascinating display explaining the main features of the Lower Palaeolithic period. There is even a skeleton of the now extinct Maraş Mammoth on display. The museum journey moves on from the Palaeolithic section to a display of stone sculptures from the Neolithic age, one of the most important periods of history which shaped the history of mankind.
The Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age section of the museum houses findings from archaeological excavation sites at Şaraga, Sakçagözü, Gedikli, Tilmen, Zincirli and Sam. There is a reconstruction of a Bronze Age tomb which also serves to display these many artefacts. On the ground floor, visitors can see artefacts from the Late Hittite Period, one of the most important periods in Gaziantep’s history, in particular, findings from the ancient city of Carchemish. There is a display showing a typical palace construction from the Late Hittite period using replicas of orthostats currently displayed in the Museum of Anatolian Civilization. Visitors can see this reconstruction of an architectural type of palace known as a ‘Bit Hilani’, originally from Anatolia/Northern Syria but used widely in the Iron Age for public buildings throughout Anatolia, Syria, Palestine, Western Iran and Mesopotamia.
On the first floor of Gaziantep’s Museum of Archaeology there are exhibitions about Anatolian Civilizations, stamp and cylinder seals, the ancient city of Dülük and its stone artefacts, the Iron Age, the Persian Era, and jewellery from the Kingdom of Commagene.
The ground floor of the museum also houses important findings from Gaziantep’s Hellenistic and Roman periods, limestone sculptures, tomb stelae, and a Roman family burial chamber.
There are also displays of coins and a number of clay seal impressions of Zeugma found during the excavation of the ancient city, as well as findings dating from Gaziantep’s Islamic and Ottoman periods.
Visitors to the museum garden can see basalt relief stelae from the Hittite and Late Hittite periods, tomb stones, Roman sarcophagi, and a number of stone pieces belonging to various buildings and structures.