In 2000, in southern Turkey, the construction of a dam threatened by flooding an archaeological site making this one come to the attention of the international archaeological community. The ancient city of Zeugma, also known as Seleukia-on-the-Euphrates, is located in modern Gaziantep province, where the Euphrates river rounds its furthest bend to the west and begins to flow south into the Syrian desert. The city was always between large
cultural forces, situated across the Taurus Mountains from Anatolia and across the Euphrates from Mesopotamia, but actually never part of any of it. At it’s peak, the population was about 80,000 inhabitants and was considered one of the most important centers of the Eastern Roman Empire providing a treasure of 3000 houses in remarkably good condition.
The city was founded in 300 BC by Seleucus I Nicator ( one of Alexander the Great’s generals), which named the city after himself. Actually, there are two ancient cities called Zeugma ( one in Dacia- today’s Romania), and one in modern Gaziantep province, Turkey. The one in Turkey was considered one of the biggest trading hubs in the Eastern Roman Empire and went on until the 3rd century when it was destroyed completely by a Sassanid king and after that hit by an earthquake from which the city never recovered.
Zeugma was completely underwater until recently, when a project to excavate the area recieved fundings from many sources and the past could finally be uncovered, making this even more interesting.
In 2007, excavations started at Zeugma and there are still many things left to be discovered, and for now the mosaics look amazing. However, while they are talking about preservation, the mayor and chief archaeologist don’t seem to really care about it that much. They showed a complete carelessness after 13 people including mayor of Gaziantep stepped on the 2000 year old mosaics that measure up to 10 square meters in size. Three new mosaics were recently discovered in the ancient place dating back to the 2nd century BC, but incredibly well-preserved and look as beautiful and stunning as the first day.
What are mosaics?
In ancient Greek mythology people used character mosaics to decorate their houses. The first mosaic shows the nine Muses – the goddesses of the literature, science and the arts inspiration. Muse Calliope is in the center of the mosaic. The second mosaic unveils Ocean – the divine personification of the sea – and his sister Tethys. The third, smaller in size, depicts a young man.
All mosaics are constructed of colored glass and server as floors of a building that archaeologists have named the House of Muses.