Besides amazing historical bazaars and inns Gaziantep Zeugma mosaic museum is said to be the biggest in the world, containing 1700m2 of mosaics. The size of it impresses and the mosaic images amaze.
The museum’s mosaics are focused on Zeugma, thought to have been founded by a general in Alexander the Great’s army. The treasures, including the mosaics, remained relatively unknown until 2000 when artifacts appeared in museums and when plans for new dams on the Euphrates meant that much of Zeugma would be forever flooded. A large number of the mosaics still remain uncovered and teams of researchers continue to work on the project.
A lot of images were destroyed by time, weather or water. You can see on displays installed in the museum pictures of excavation works in Zeugma where some of the mosaics are covered or almost covered by water.
Thanks to efforts of archaeologists we have a chance to contemplate these amazing masterpieces of art and craftsmanship.
Archaeological excavations at the ancient Zeugma started in the late 1980s. Although it was already known in the early twentieth century by locals and by some visiting Europeans that at the site some Roman mosaics and inscriptions were discovered. By the 1960s, some locals discovered the monetary value of the mosaics, and they have been involved in illegal excavations for the international market.
Archaeologists who began excavation at Zeugma have reported that many of the mosaics found in Zeugma had been damaged by such illegal excavations. Archeologists are suspicious that many of the Roman mosaics in various museum catalogues, whose place of origin is described as “East Mediterranean,” or “said to be from East Turkey,” or “near Syria,” may probably be excavated from Zeugma.
Many mosaics have been gained completely but many of them have been damaged by looters, and the museum exhibits only part or fragments of them.
Of course, the most famous of all the displayed images is the Gypsy Girl (fragment) which immediately became the symbol of Gaziantep. You will get familiar with the image before you step in to the mosaic museum.
The image is placed in a dark room where nothing distracts you from contemplating this amazing image. Although this is the highlight of the museum all other mosaics are probably as good as the Gypsy Girl.