The "Gypsy Girl" awaits the return of looted mosaics to Turkey
The Zeugma Mosaic Museum in in Gaziantep, Turkey opened in 2011 as the largest mosaic museum in the world. Containing some 1700m2 of mosaics, the museum focuses on the ancient Greek city of Zeugma, which was scheduled to be flooded in the early part of the current century with the planned construction of new dams on the Euphrates River. The initial Greek settlement at Zeugma was created by one of Alexander the Great’s army generals. The location on the Euphrates River was selected primarily to exploit the river crossing made of two wooden pontoons; the name Zeugma means “bridge of boats.” By the time the Romans conquered the city in 64 BC, the city had become an important trading center on the Silk Road from Antioch to China. At that time, the Euphrates River formed the boundary of the Persian Empire and the river crossing was an important access point and border crossing.
Archaeological excavations in the 1980 following the discovery of looting activity revealed extensive and well-preserved remains of the ancient city. By 2000s, after excavations had been expanded due to the impending dam flooding of the site, the site had produced extraordinary evidence of the wealth of the ancient city and its inhabitants, including the remains of elaborate villas and tombs as well as frescoes and mosaics (the photo above of the “Gypsy Girl” mosaic is in the public domain). The BBC documentary “The Secret Treasures of Zeugma” was produced in 2000 shortly after the site was flooded. This site contains 500 digital images showing the magnificence of the mosaics.
In 1965, Bowling Green State University in Ohio purchased several fragments of mosaics from Zeugma that allegedly had been illegally excavated and trafficked out of Turkey. Now, Turkey is making renewed efforts to have them returned.
By Daily Sabah Turkey
October 10, 2017
500 digital images of the museum’s mosaic collection
December 31, 2011
Trafficking Culture’s encyclopedia entry
(last updated January 13, 2013)
Bowling Green State University News – February 2012