The Mediterranean Sea is a very important in terms of its rich and diverse fish resources. In particular, the journey of migratory fish in schools from one sea to another can be followed even with the naked eye from time to time. The processes and activities that various species of fish or sea creatures undergo throughout this journey to reach the dinner table led to the emergence of fishing as a commercial venture. While fish were caught using different means in ancient times, today this need can be met by “fish farms.”

The fossils of fish and other sea creatures as well as fishing hooks and similar tools dating to the Prehistoric period (ca. 40.000-10.000 BC) have been found in archaeological excavations. Wall and vase paintings, reliefs and archaeological finds from Near Eastern civilizations such as Mesopotamia and Egypt, where the first states emerged (Bronze Age, ca. 3000-1200 BC), provide a rich picture of the diversity of fish and fishing in that period. The seas that surround Anatolia – Black, Marmara, Aegean and Mediterranean – as well as the straits that connect these seas, were very important food sources for both Anatolia and other surrounding civilizations. Undoubtedly, settlements far from the sea were able to meet their fish needs from those in freshwater lakes and rivers.

The Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations (3rd and 2nd millennium BC), which flourished in the Aegean world, produced wall and vase paintings that present the most beautiful repertoire of sea creatures in the Aegean and the Mediterranean Seas. Likewise, the art of the Mycenaean civilization (2nd millennium BC), which flourished in Greece, is also very rich and interesting in its depiction of sea creatures. Regarding the ancient Greek and Roman civilizations, our knowledge of fish and fisheries increases, for fishing had become an industry. Literary sources inform us about various topics such as fishing, fish recipes, serving fish, preserving fish as canned food, fish sauces, and fish importing and exporting. Mosaics of the Roman Imperial period reveal the fish repertoire of the period, and scenes related to fishing are almost like photo frames.

This exhibition takes you on a short journey through our seas in Antiquity. You will meet different types of sea creatures such as fish, dolphins, mussels and snails, and hear their stories. You will find answers to many questions about how they were caught and consumed as food.