Zeugma Mosaic Museum – Gaziantep

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Gaziantep Zeugma Mosaic Museum is a very important and popular museum for visitors of all ages who are interested in history and culture as well as art historians and archaeologists. The museum has an artistic richness and diversity that can be a reason alone to visit Turkey.

Zeugma Mosaic Museum - Gaziantep

Zeugma Mosaic Museum – Gaziantep

It is known as one of the largest mosaic museums in the world in terms of both the size of the building and the area covered by the mosaics on display.

Zeugma Mosaic Museum - Gaziantep

Zeugma Mosaic Museum – Gaziantep

The mosaics exhibited in the museum reflect a superior artistic taste, the churches of the Late Antiquity, and the examples of Early Syriac and Christian iconography make the museum even more attractive.

Zeugma Mosaic Museum - Gaziantep

Zeugma Mosaic Museum – Gaziantep

Apart from the mosaics unearthed from the ancient city of Zeugma, one of the most important archaeological discoveries of our time, covering an area of ​​2,500 square meters in total and constituting the examples of the peak point reached by art in this period, it is also possible to see statues, columns and fountains from the Roman Period in the museum.

Zeugma Mosaic Museum - Gaziantep

Zeugma Mosaic Museum – Gaziantep

For example, the bronze statue of Ares, the God of War, is among the works that attract the most attention of the visitors in the museum, apart from the mosaics.

Zeugma Mosaic Museum - Gaziantep

Zeugma Mosaic Museum – Gaziantep

What Does Zeugma Mean?

 

Together with the Tigris, the Euphrates River, which forms the border of Mesopotamia, which is called the cradle of civilization, has brought abundance to this region for thousands of years. Seleukos Nikator, one of the commanders of Alexander the Great, who passed through the Anatolian lands with the aim of conquering the whole world 2300 years ago, also chose the fertile Euphrates shores to establish his settlement and decided to give the city a name combining this river with his own name. The region, known as Seleucus Euphrathes, was changed to Zeugma, which means “bridgehead”, when it came under Roman rule in 64 BC. The fact that it remains at a crossing point between civilizations and cultures as well as roads and that it continues this feature for centuries shows how appropriate its name is. Continuing this advantage until it was destroyed by the Sassanids, Zeugma also managed to reach the wealth to become one of the four largest cities of the Kingdom of Commagene.

The fact that all the walls and even the floors of the villas of Poseidon and Euphrates, where the most magnificent of the mosaics were discovered and awaiting their visitors in a revived form on the ground floor of the museum, are decorated with mosaics and frescoes, is the proof of the richness of the city.

Zeugma Mosaic Museum - Gaziantep

Zeugma Mosaic Museum – Gaziantep

Featured Works of Zeugma Mosaic Museum

“Gypsy Girl” (2nd-3rd Centuries AD)

All of the mosaic panels in the museum are works of great mastery. In addition to the fact that some of them are made of exactly 500 thousand pieces, the realism and liveliness of the figures arouse admiration. However, the most important work of the museum is not these very large panels, but the 2nd century AD Maenad, or more commonly known as the Gypsy Girl Mosaic, which was discovered in a very small piece compared to the others.

Zeugma Mosaic Museum - Gaziantep

Zeugma Mosaic Museum – Gaziantep

A special technique was used to activate the gaze of the gypsy girl in the mosaic. The fact that he reflects the joy and sadness on his face at the same time shows the point reached in the art of portraiture. The work was made with the technique expressed as “three-quarter gaze” in Hellenistic Period painting. This technique was also used by great artists in the art of painting. Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa painting is an example of a work done in this technique. Due to these features, the work has become the symbol of Zeugma and Gaziantep.

Zeugma Mosaic Museum - Gaziantep

Zeugma Mosaic Museum – Gaziantep

A part of the Gypsy Girl Mosaic was opened to visitors at the Zeugma Mosaic Museum after the twelve missing pieces, which were found to be in Bowlig Green State University in the USA, were taken to the museum with the initiatives of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

Oceanus and Tethys Mosaic (2nd and 3rd Centuries AD)

The Oceanos and Tethys Mosaic is the floor mosaic of the shallow pool of the Oceanos Villa. In this mosaic, which belongs to the Early Roman Imperial Period, the river god Oceanos, who is the source of life, and his wife Tethys are the subjects. Oceanos and his wife Tethys are in the middle of the mosaic framed by a geometric triple knit border. Around them, various fish species and Eros mounted on dolphins are seen, indicating the fertility of the sea. The most frequently depicted attributes of Oceanus, namely the symbols, are snakes and fish.

Zeugma Mosaic Museum - Gaziantep

Zeugma Mosaic Museum – Gaziantep

In the mosaic, Oceanos is seen with crab claws on his head. These claws are one of its most characteristic features. Although the eel’s tail is depicted instead of its feet in the ceramic figures, in mosaic art, it is portrayed as a bust and only with the claws on its head. His wife, Tethys, is represented right next to Oceanus and with wings on her forehead. In the middle of it is the serpent-bodied dragon called Ketos, a mythological sea creature. Because, as can be seen on the coins minted in the name of Zeugma, the Euphrates River is expressed as a dragon in Zeugma. Apart from these two main figures, in the upper right part of the mosaic, there is a young male figure sitting on a rock, who fishes and is thought to be Pan, the patron god of shepherds. The outward depiction of Eros and Pan, which are the side figures, indicates that the pool is in a form to wander around.

Zeugma Mosaic Museum - Gaziantep

Zeugma Mosaic Museum – Gaziantep

According to Greek Mythology, Oceanus is one of the twelve Titan (giant) sons of Gaia. According to the worldview of the ancient Greeks, the earth is like a round and flat disk, which Oceanus encloses all around. Oceanos is not actually conceived as a sea, but as a universal river and father of rivers. It is described as deep eddy and eddy.
In mythology, Oceanos is expressed not as an ocean but as a river that surrounds the world, and it is told that the water, which evaporates with the heat of the sun and gives life to nature as rain, meets the sea with rivers after being used by nature.

Akratos and Euphrosine Mosaic (2nd and 3rd Centuries AD)

The Akratos and Euphrosine Mosaic is the floor mosaic belonging to a room of the Villa “Menad”. It was excavated from the side room of the mosaic identified as the Gypsy Girl during the rescue excavation of the Gaziantep Museum in 1998.

Zeugma Mosaic Museum - Gaziantep

Zeugma Mosaic Museum – Gaziantep

In the mosaic, Akratos, whose name means “manager, transmitter”, and Euprosine, which means “giving joy and joy”, are seen.

Zeugma Mosaic Museum - Gaziantep

Zeugma Mosaic Museum – Gaziantep

In the composition, it is depicted that Akratos presents the holy wine in the golden crater, taken from the divine source, to Euprosine with the horn of fertility. On the right, Euprosine is pictured lying under a tree. The comfort of the drink can be felt in the postures and facial expressions of both figures. The bell crater, located on the left side of the composition, is larger than the figures and depicted on them, while drawing the emphasis to this celebration and wine, it also evokes its sanctity.

Achilles Mosaic (2nd – 3rd Centuries AD)
Achilles is the most prominent figure in Greek mythology. Achilles is the son of Peleus and Thetis. Thetis, who reluctantly married a mortal Peleus, burned her children with fire to make them immortal like herself. Waking up one night, Peleus saw that his wife had grabbed her child, Achilles, by the heel and set him into the fire. Seeing this, Peleus took the child from his mother and kicked his wife out of the house. According to another legend, Thetis immortalized her child not by burning him in fire, but by immersing him in the river Styx. For this reason, Achilles did not have a weapon on any part of him, except for the heel of his feet, which his mother held with her hand.

According to the narratives, Achilles, who was raised on the mountain by the horseman Khiron, becomes a young boy who is skilled in everything. The war begins between the Achaeans and the Trojans, and the war will not be won if Achilles does not join the war. In order to prevent Achilles, who decided to participate in the Trojan War, from dying in the war, his father or mother is sent to the island of Skyros to the palace of King Lykomedes. Achilles, who lives in the harem, is called “red-haired” here, and a son named Neoptolemos was born with one of Lykomedes’ daughters.

Zeugma Mosaic Museum - Gaziantep

Zeugma Mosaic Museum – Gaziantep

Odysseus goes in search of Achilles after Kalkhas, the oracle of the Achaeans, informed that Troy would not be taken if Achilles did not join the expedition. Arriving at Skyros, he disguised as a traveling salesman and entered the harem of Lykomedes. When he opens his bundle in front of the girls, he pulls out a few precious weapons from a lot of cloth. When Achilles sees these weapons, he can’t stand it, he craves to buy it and use it. In this way, he reveals his identity. Odysseus follows him to the place where the Achaean army is gathered. Achilles was shot in the heel by an arrow shot by Paris on the battlefield and dies.

Zeugma Mosaic Museum - Gaziantep

Zeugma Mosaic Museum – Gaziantep

On this mosaic panel, the scene of the emergence of the identity of Achilles, the heart of the mythology of Achilles, is depicted. The processing of the figures in the front from left to right in the opposite direction of the columns provided rush and mobility. In addition, the fact that the mosaic panel is surrounded by wave motifs makes the image appear animated when the pool is filled with water.

The mosaic belongs to the pool floor of the villa named after him and is dated to the 2nd century AD.

Escape of Europhe Mosaic (2nd – 3rd Centuries AD)
The abduction mosaic of the Europhe was unearthed during the excavations in the ancient city of Zeugma, in the area called Zone B. The composition depicts the god Zeus disguised as a bull and kidnapping the Syrian girl Europhe. In mythology, the ruler of Olympos, the god of gods, Zeus was famous for his loves. According to mythology, Zeus, who fell in love with the beauty of Europhe, the daughter of the King of Phenicia, came to the girl who was having fun at the seaside, disguised as a bull. Europhe caresses this docile-looking animal and rides on it, decorating its horns with flowers. At that moment, the bull starts running at great speed. Europhe, on the other hand, hugs the bull’s neck with one hand in order not to fall, and with the other hand holds the hem of his dress so that it does not get wet.

Zeugma Mosaic Museum - Gaziantep

Zeugma Mosaic Museum – Gaziantep

In the mosaic, the Europhe sits on the bull. The fact that the forelegs of the bull are slightly thrown forward indicates that they are in motion. The fish figure in the lower left corner of the composition also shows that they are in motion in the sea. The female figure next to Europa is her companion. The opposing directions of the bull and the winged panther on which this female figure sits point to the abduction of the Europhe. Just like in the story, Europhe holds her dress with one hand so that it does not get wet, and tries to balance it with one hand so that it does not fall.

Zeugma Mosaic Museum - Gaziantep

Zeugma Mosaic Museum – Gaziantep

The mosaic was removed and brought to the Gaziantep Museum one day before the waters of the Birecik Dam Lake swallowed the mosaic during the excavations in Region B. During the removal of the mosaic, the face of the Europhe figure was damaged due to the rising of the water from the ground. It was rearranged in accordance with the original, based on the available data during the restoration.

Source: Ministry of Culture and Tourism General Directorate of Promotion Introductory Publications