One of the most important cities in the Eastern Roman Empire was Zeugma: A once flourishing city home to 80,000 inhabitants situated in the present-day province of Gazientep in southern Turkey.
Now, researchers are digging up exciting ancient mosaics. Excavations began in 2007 and just seven years earlier, in 2000, the ancient city was completely submerged underwater.
To this day, 25 houses of the 2000-3000 discovered remain under water. Not only were the finding of the houses remarkable, but three incredibly well preserved colored glass mosaics that date back to 2nd century BC were also discovered.
The first mosaic depicts the nine Muses – the goddesses of the inspiration of literature, science and the arts.
The second mosaic depicts Ocean – the divine personification of the sea – and his sister Tethys. The third, smaller in size mosaic, depicts a young man.
“From now on, we will work on restoration and conservation. We plan to establish a temporary roof for long-term protection. We estimate that the ancient city has 2,000-3,000 houses. Twenty-five of them remain under water. Excavations will be finished in the Muzalar House next year,” said head of the excavations, Professor Kutalmış Görkay.
--- from Can You Actually
|Zeugma is an ancient city of Commagene; located in modern Gaziantep Province, Turkey. It was named for the bridge of boats, or zeugma, that crossed the Euphrates river at that location. Parts of Zeugma have become submerged in the Euphrates River since the construction of the Birecik Dam.
The use of mosaics was a practical, albeit expensive, means of creating a smooth, level floor; but they were also highly decorative, designed to impress with their beautiful and sophisticated use of decorative tesserae, which were carefully placed to create geometric patterns or scenes with mythological themes.
More than 2,000m of mosaics were uncovered at Zeugma, and most are now exhibited over the three floors of this museum. While the majority of the mosaics come from Zeugma, there are also some examples recovered from other sites around Gaziantep, including some 6th century AD artworks from churches in the region.
The mosaics from Zeugma are displayed as they were found, positioned according to their original on-site locations: those uncovered closest to the Euphrates are the first on view inside the museum entrance; those from higher up the terrace above the river bank are laid out beyond and on the upper floors of the building.
Visitors ‘enter’ Zeugma as if from the river level, then rise up as though climbing the terrace sets on a stroll through the city. The effect is of wandering through the villas, seeing how the people lived, their beliefs, their culture, and their daily life. Gigantic photographic displays of Zeugma on the walls add to the illusion, and those mosaics where part of the image has been damaged or lost have been ‘filled in’ by light projection.
The bathhouse is displayed on the lowest level of the museum, along with the magnificent statue of Mars, God of War. On the next level are the houses that once sat along the banks of the Euphrates, now given the names ‘Poseidon’, ‘Euphrates’, and ‘Dionysus’, according to the subject of their fine mosaics.
One of the most striking mosaics portrays the Titan Oceanus and his wife Tethys – mythological primordial sea deities, parents of the world’s rivers, fountains and lakes – with each of their 3,000 daughters, nymphs called Oceanids. But the most famous artwork is the haunting mosaic nicknamed ‘Gypsy Girl’. In fact, she is a Maenad – a follower of Dionysus – and her beautiful portrait, housed in a special room with labyrinth-themed decorations, has become the unofficial symbol of the Zeugma excavations.
--- from Turkey Cultural Tour
|Mars, God of War
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