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Zeugma Mosaic Museum’s exhibits include the God Satyros (below) and the Gypsy Girl (bottom)


“BECAUSE OF VANDALISM AND ILLEGAL EXCAVATION IT WILL BE IMPOSSIBLE TO KNOW WHICH FIGURES WERE THE SUBJECT OF VARIOUS MOSAICS. THEY WILL BE EXHIBITED INCOMPLETE”


were part of a large collection in 2005, a new museum was built next to the old museum and a large section dedicated to displaying the mosaics. However, even this space wasn’t big enough, so the Zeugma Mosaic Museum was built. As a result, all of the mosaics are on display together and Zeugma is now home to the largest collec- tion of mosaics in the world.


What thefts have there been?


Zeugma was known as an ancient site before it was offi cially excavated. We know that between 1960 and 1970 extensive ille- gal excavations took place. For example, one of the mosaics in the museum, known as the Gypsy Girl, is actu- ally the top part of a very large mosaic. Unfortunately, this mosaic has been mostly destroyed by smugglers. Another example is a mosaic known as


Dionysos and Ariadne’s wedding scene. It was discovered in 1992 during an excava- tion by Gaziantep Museum of an ancient house. The mosaic was stolen from the excavation location and is now being


AM 4 2011 ©cybertrek 2011


sought out by Interpol all over the world. The site is better protected now by the vil- lage of Belkis’ local Gendarmerie, with the Gendarmerie Station located right next to the ancient city of Zeugma.


How did the thefts happen?


Some of the thefts are probably the result of demand from organised crime art col- lectors. There are some pieces at the museum that were brought back from abroad in the 1990s. But the main reason there are illegal


excavations and thefts of archaeological artefacts is because people don’t realise that they belong to their own past and how important they are for everyone. This situation can, however, be overcome by educating the public. Museum experts are conducting programs throughout schools with the Education Ministry and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.


What impact have the thefts had?


Because of vandalism and illegal excava- tion it will be impossible to know and see


which fi gures were the subject of various mosaics. What’s most upsetting, apart from this lost knowledge, is that the mosa- ics will be exhibited in an incomplete manner due to their damage.


What are the future plans for the museum?


The Zeugma Mosaic Museum Exhibition and Conference Centre consists of three buildings. The fi rst is the Zeugma Mosaic Museum, the second the exhibition and conference centre and the third is where the Zeugma Mosaic restoration and con- servation takes place. This restoration and conservation unit will continue to be improved and will eventually become an education and research centre. The museum has two gift shops, which sell souvenirs and books. Along with its cafeteria, meeting and exhibition spaces, the museum’s aim is to become an impor- tant cultural centre for Gaziantep. ●


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