Anatolian Civilizations Museum a gift to Ankara
The ball sound of the Greek army, deployed in Polatlı in 1921, caused concern in Ankara. Documents were being loaded to ox-driven carts in order to move the capital to Kayseri before it was seized by enemies.
Turkish writer and journalist Nezihe Araz, who lived from 1920-2009, had described the living conditions in Ankara in those days.
“Ankara is a forgotten city. Almost nothing from the civilization is available. No light. No water. It fights against dust storms. No trees. The soil is barren. It is a dangerous malaria area,” Araz wrote.
“In short, it is an abandoned and dull steppe town. Lighting is provided with candles, gas lamps or carbides. Warming is provided with room stoves,” she said.
“Since there is no water system, water is found in neighborhood fountains and carried to houses. Bathrooms are inadequate, everyone goes to the hamams. There is no public transportation. No one has a phone, except for senior managers such as the governor, ruler and gendarmerie commander,” said Araz.
With the enemy on one hand, poverty on the other hand, President Mustafa Kemal Atatürk instructed the Education Ministry to establish the Cultural Directorate in 1921.
The instruction caused confusion in the ministry in Ankara. No one had understood the reason why he asked the Cultural Directorate to gather old artifacts in Ankara and to open a museum while the city was moving.
Mübarek Galip Bey established the Cultural Directorate with his three officers and gathered artifacts for a museum.
There was a need to have a museum in the capital to bring all these artifacts together.
The abandoned Mahmut Paşa Bazaar and the Kurşunlu Inn were decided to be restored to serve as a museum.
It is estimated that the bazaar was built by grand vizier Mahmut Paşa at the time of Fatih Sultan Mehmet between 1464 and 1471.
It is written in resources that the Angora goat wool fabrics were marketed there. The enclosed area with 10 domes surrounded the 102-stored street. There were 28 rooms in the ground floor and 30 rooms in the first floor. However, these two structures were abandoned after a fire that occurred in 1881.
As one of the world’s most important museums, the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations was first named the Eti Museum due to the Hittite artifacts. The word Eti comes from the French pronunciation of the word Hittite.
When a big part of the domed area in the center of the bazaar was finished in 1940, the collected artifacts were organized by experts under the direction of German archaeologist Hans Gustav Güterborg and began to be displayed. This section was opened to visitors in 1943.
The restoration of this section was designed by architect Macit Kural and the restoration was carried out by architect Zühtü Bey. The museum’s administration moved to four rooms in 1948.
Works that started in 1938 continued until 1968.
Artifacts from various periods starting from the Paleolithic Age are being displayed in the museum.
The Ankara findings are in the lower floor of the museum. You can see the bones of elephants, rhinos, and giant turtles that lived in Ankara’s Kazan district 15 million years ago, as well as the skull of a monkey called Ankara Pithecus, who could be called the first citizen of Ankara.
A short time ago, 10 million year-old giraffe bones were also found in the Evren district.