Gaziantep Zeugma Mosaic Museum - History and Facts | History Hit

Gaziantep Zeugma Mosaic Museum

Sehitkamil, Southeastern Anatolia Region, Turkey

This astonishing museum features thousands of square feet of lovingly restored mosaics from the Roman town of Zeugma.

Peta Stamper

24 Jul 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Gaziantep Zeugma Mosaic Museum

Forming part of the Museum of Archaeology, the Gaziantep Zeugma Mosaic Museum in Turkey contains a superb collection of mosaics from the ancient Roman town of Zeugma. The mosaics would have adorned the walls of the Hamam (Turkish Bath) and many of the villas of the richer inhabitants of the ancient city.

Archaeologists have recreated these decorated rooms, allowing you to get a feel of what they really would have looked like thousands of years ago.

Gaziantep Zeugma Mosaic Museum history

Zeugma was one of the most important cities of the Roman Empire in the East. Originally founded around 300 BC by Alexander’s general Seleucus Nicator, the city was a vital military and commercial point across the Euphrates river, with as many as 70,000 people living in the city at its peak.

However, a devastating attack in 256 AD by Sassanid king Shapur I led to the city’s decline. Though Zeugma remained an important Roman and subsequently Byzantine city well into the 6th century, the mounting pressure on the Empire’s borders led to its eventual abandonment.

Gaziantep Zeugma Mosaic Museum today

The remains of Zeugma are 45 kilometres away on the bank of the Euphrates and now lie mostly underwater due to the construction of a number of modern dams. Before the dams were built, great conservation efforts were put in place to preserve the ruins of the city.

Everything that could be moved was excavated, not just portable objects but wall paintings, mosaics and frescoes – with many of the finds move to the Zeugma Mosaic Museum. An unimaginable amount of work has gone into removing, restoring and reassembling these mosaics.

The Zeugma Mosaic Museum itself is among the largest mosaic museums in the world, exhibiting thousands of square metres of truly awe inspiring mosaics, originating from the Roman and Byzantine periods. Alongside this there are other excavations including the frescoes, fountains, sculptures and an intimidating bronze statue of the God Mars.

Sadly, the archaeological site was subject to looting over the years, so many mosaics are therefore incomplete. The museum today attempts to raise awareness against the looting and trafficking of artefacts such as these.

Despite this, some of the most impressive mosaics in the museum are vast works, depicting famous characters such as Poseidon, Dionysus and Achilles.

Getting to Gaziantep Zeugma Mosaic Museum

Loctaed in the centre of modern Gaziantep, the Gaziantep Zeugma Mosaic Museum is easily found just off the D400 road and is a 2.5 hour drive from Adana along the E90.