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Zeugma Mosaic Museum

Our tour is named after Zeugma, which after 2300 years, was revived under the misty gaze of the Gypsy Girl.  The first step of the Zeugma tour is the Zeugma Mosaic Museum, which has the largest display of mosiacs in the world (measured on a square meter basis). We will see mainly Roman remains on the tour, and our last stop will be the city of Zeugma, which was the artistic centre of the period.

On this route where coloured stones are given eloquent voice, we will behold many scenes of natural beauty, experience shrines to religious faiths, and discover the stone quarries that played a role in creating the richly artistic and cultural centre that was Zeugma. 

In 2012, the Zeugma Ancient City and Mosaic Museum was honoured with the Presidential Grand Award in Culture and the Arts for exhibiting Turkey’s rich archaeological assets to standards that highlight their value as world heritage,

The Zeugma Mosaic Museum which brings to life the ancient city – the remains of which still reflect its magnificence despite the intervening millenia and ravages of war, is built on the E-400  (the Silk Road).

With actual-sized streets, fountains, walls and other elements, the exhibit aims to present a one-to-one architectural vision of the environment in which the people of the time, with their attendant beliefs and culture, lived their daily lives.

The museum is open to visitors year round, from 09:00-17:00 hours every day except Mondays.

Zeugma was founded as a Commagene settlement in 300 BC. It grew rapidly after being attached to the Roman Empire, becoming one of the largest and most vibrant cities of its day. The mosaics commissioned by its citizens as symbols of Zeugma’s wealth and power were buried under the rubble when the city was destroyed, remaining in a deep slumber until they were brought to light some 2300 years later to be admired by the whole world.

The museum is designed to give visitors a picture of the daily life, and artistic and cultural aspects of the magnificent ancient city of Zeugma, and is laid out accordingly.   It has 3 separate buildings set on a total area of 30,000 m2. In addition to the 3-storey building containing 7,075 m2 of exhibition space, there are 5 conference rooms with a total capacity of 1,160 persons, as well as administrative offices. The museum complex has plenty to interest visitors of all ages.

The artifacts are placed according to their former location in ancient Zeugma. The mosaics found closest to the Euphrates are at the entrance of the museum, while the mosaics that rose towards the terraces of the city are displayed in sequence. The Roman Bath mosaics exhibited in the basement were found right below the Birecik Dam itself. 

The statue of Athena, thought to be from the temple in the acropolis of ancient Zeugma, is now in the museum forecourt.  

Just inside the entrance to the museum are steles depicting Heracles and Helios which the Commagene king Antiochus I had made to reinforce his sovereignty and establish a plan of rule.    

Zeugma is actually a Commagene city. In BC 31, control of the city was ceded to the Roman Empire, which is why the route around the museum begins at the Handshake Steles of Antiochus I, since these steles document the agreement, which was to determine the subsequent fate of Zeugma.

The Poseidon and Euphrates Villas, known as the twin villas, have been faithfully recreated; with the original mosaics, wall frescoes, fountains, columns and walls placed in their former respective positions, giving us a profile of a scene from 2000 years ago. 

One of the most striking artifacts in the museum is the statue of Mars, the god of war, which stands on a pedestalled column, just as it did in its former spot in the city. The Mars figure holds a spear in one hand, and branches in the other, thereby symbolizing both war and the bounty of spring. It is a very fine statue with brilliant workmanship. It was found in the Poseidon Villa during the excavations of 2000. The Statue of Mars has been placed so that it can be seen from every level of the museum – just as in ancient Zeugma, the central position reflecting its role as a symbol of protection. It is one of the most important exhibits in the museum display.

The Maenad Mosaic, known as the “Gypsy Girl”, which has become an iconic symbol of both Zeugma and Gaziantep, is exhibited in a special room in the first section of the second floor. The room is designed like a labyrinth, creating an atmosphere of mystery with the spotlight on the haunting gaze of the Gypsy Girl. The mosaic of which the Gypsy Girl fragment was a part, is on the wall of the same room. It has been damaged to a large extent by smugglers, and the space, which the Maenad occupied is indicated to show the kind of damage that smugglers of antique artifacts inflicted on these works. 

After crossing the bridge, which affords a view of the villas from above, there is a section containing church mosaics from the Early East Roman (Byzantine) Period. The continuation of the Zeugma school can be seen in these mosaics, which were recovered from churches around Gaziantep. 

Mosaics dating up to the 6th century A.D. are exhibited in the second section on the second floor of the museum, and in an annex building.  The most important feature of the annex is the mosaic restoration laboratory in the central space. 350 m2 of mosaic can be restored at the same time here in this area covering roughly 1500 m2.  The basement laboratory is walled with glass, enabling visitors to observe the work being carried out from the viewpoint on the ground and first floor levels. 

The chronological order of the exibits in the museum allows visitors to trace the changes in the beliefs, culture and socioeconomic structure between the 1st and 6th centuries AD via the mosaics. With this feature, the museum offers a unique opportunity for a better analysis of the period.

Described as the world’s largest mosaic museum, with 2248 m2 of restored mosaics and 140m2 of wall frescoes on exhibit, as well as fountains, columns, sarcophagi and other architectural elements, the Zeugma Mosaic Museum is a vibrant exhibition area that brings to life Zeugma, one of the most renowned cities of its time.

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The contents of this publication, which has been prepared by the 2013 Economic Development Financial Support Programme of the Silk Road Development Agency does not represent the views of the Silk Road Development Agency and/or the Ministry of Development. Sole responsibility for the content lies with Neva Bilgi Teknolojileri Medya ve Danışmanlık Hizmetleri San. Tic. Ltd. Şti.


Zeugma Tour and Alternative

  • Zülfü Siyah Tomb

    To visit the shrine of the female saint called Zülfü Siyah, from the Zeugma Mosaic Museum travel 20 km towards the east, and then northeast on the Nizip road to Küllü Village, where the shrine is situated on the hill called Ziyaret Tepesi.

    The entrance to the single-domed shrine is on the east side, via an arched door measuring 1.50 x 0.65 m. The shrine has a single, stone-masonary chamber containing a concrete sarcophagus. 

    Read 13872 times
  • Salkım Stone Bridge

    Continuing 13 km towards the northeast, you will come to Salkım Village.

    Salkım is a pleasantly green village, and the Stone Bridge is over the river of the same name: the Salkım Çayı. The bridge dates from the Mamluk period and has three pointed arches – a main arch in the center, with a smaller, relieving arch on either side.  It is still in use today.

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  • Adaklı Bridge

    Adaklı Bridge is surrounded by walnut trees in the green area in the west of Salkım’s  Adaklı District.

    To get there, go towards the northwest. The bridge is also called the “Pasha Bridge”. It is built of smooth-cut ashlar, and has two pointed arches. It is paved with asphalt and in current use. 

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  • Adaklı Church

    Adaklı Church is west of the Adaklı Bridge. The remains cover 30 m2 and are surrounded by pistachio trees on a hill.  It will take you about 10 minutes to walk up the hill, which is not very steep.

    The church is built of cut stone in the shape of a cross. The roof, and north and northeast walls have completely collapsed, but the west and south walls are intact. There is a late-period, east-west lying grave north of the church. 

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  • Alahacı Mausoleum

    Our route continues to the north. The Alahacı Mausoleum is located in the old village cemetery, 2 km along the paved road linking the villages of Güder and Alahacı.

    You will see the partly collapsed dome of the mausoleum at the end of the cemetery. It is square, measuring 4 x 4 metres x 5 m high. The interior is oval, and the remaining plaster on the walls is painted with red triangular and other geometric designs. The entrance is on the east side. The tomb was built of cut stone blocks erected on a foundation of irregular stones of mixed size. The inside corners have 3-tiered muqarnas – a type of corbel used as a decorative device.  The monument has suffered considerable damage from the elements in recent years.

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  • Observation Hill Facility

    Having visited some places of interest in the town, the final stop on our tour is about 10 km to the northeast: the ruins of ancient Zeugma. On the way, you can stop at Seyir Tepesi near the Birecik Dam to get a view of the river basin from a different angle.

    Part of the ancient city now lies beneath the water of the Birecik Dam Reservoir. The dam, the reservoir lake and the hydro-electric plant can all be seen from Seyir Tepe.  Inside the facility building are pictures of artifacts found at the Zeugma excavation site. 

    Although so close to Zeugma, this facility is not within the archaeological protected zone. The picnic area (called Belkıs Kavunlu Mesire Alanı) before Seyir Tepesi is a pleasant place for a picnic with a view of the lake.

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