Zeugma, “bridge”, was the Greek name of a Hellenistic town on the banks of the Euphrates. When a dam was built in the river, about 30% of the archaeological site was submerged. There were excavations, and the archaeologists found beautiful mosaics, which were brought to the museum of Gazi Antep.
Now, they have a museum of their own, which was opened last week. You can still smell the paint.
The Zeugma Mosaic Museum is splendid. It consists of two wings; the left one is finished, the right one still has to be completed, although we found the door open and were able to admire the collection as well.
A visit to the left wing starts with a little movie in which Zeugma is explained. The voice-over is a bit overenthusiastic and the music is at times bombastic, but it’s nicely done. Unfortunately, there’s similar music in the museum itself; not too loud, but still sufficiently annoying to distract.
You can see the mosaics from two levels: on ground level, you can see them as they must have been experienced by the people of Zeugma themselves, from the first floor, you have a better view. On this floor, you can also see some other mosaics, including a 20 meter wide one from a church near Zeugma.
One of the finest displays is a mosaic of which a part was stolen. In the old museum, there was a large question mark; now, they project a slide of the missing part.
Explanations are Turkish and English, and very interesting. The catalog costs no less than 245 lira, or 110 euro, which was more than I was willing to pay.
The comparison with Athens’ Acropolis Museum was inevitable. In the museum in Gazi Antep, some improvements are possible – the music and an affordable catalog for instance. Yet, photography is allowed, which makes the Zeugma Mosaic Museum, from the point of view of the student who wants to recall what he has seen and share it with others, a better museum.