When plans to build a dam on the Euphrates threatened flooding for all these mosaics, efforts were made to relocate them to a museum. (Some remain in Zeugma, flooded and not flooded, with new ones being discovered from time to time as well.) Completed in 2011, the Zeugma Mosaic Museum offers 1,700 square meters of mosaics.
Zeugma itself was a town along the Euphrates River, founded by Seleucus Nicator, a general and successor to Alexander the Great. The Romans took the place in the first century B.C.E. Some wealthy folks had some mighty nice looking villas but their golden days came to an end when Parthians (Ancient Persians) sacked and destroyed the city sometime around 253 C.E. Fortunately, for nearly 1,800 years these mosaic floors were preserved under the ruins. While some are mounted on the walls here like artworks, many are laid out again as floors and the museum has constructed hints of homes and columns to create a really nice viewing experience.
A second big salon full of large mosaics is also impressive but may seem disappointing after you’ve gone through the first building. These feature a lot of animal and geometric designs.
Some of the mosaics adorn the walls, others are laid out like the floors they once were. And you will find a few preserved frescoes as well.
The star of the show is referred to as the “Gypsy Girl Mosaic” though this is just a modern nickname for a strikingly done face that escaped the greedy fingers of looters by conveniently ending up under the pile of dirt and rubble the looters had made stealing other pieces. She has her own room at the museum, completely darkened but for the light on her face.
Read about our visit to Zeugma Mosaic Museum and our entire Gaziantep Trip on my blog.
Zeugma Mosaic Museum
Mithatpaşa Mahallesi Hacı Sani Konukoğlu Bulvarı 27500, Şehitkamil
GPS: 37.074889, 37.386128
+90 (342) 325-2727
Admission was 10 TL (roughly $5)
Flights from Istanbul to Gaziantep can be rather cheap, as low as about $100 r/t and cheapest if you buy while special fares are still available. I’ve used CheapOair (an affiliate) for these internal Turkish flights as it lays out the comparisons with the little budget airlines nicely and typically has a little discount (use LASTMIN10 for a promo code). Unfortunately, flying there from other Turkish cities requires a flight back to Istanbul as the routes work like spokes. But hey, who doesn’t want to see Istanbul, right?