Turkey // The Euphrates and Tigris basin //

Zeugma Mosaic Museum

The superb new Zeugma Mosaic Museum, slightly inconveniently located on the ring road north of the city centre, exhibits a superb collection of mosaics rescued from the once-luxurious Hellenistic/Roman border city of Zeugma, now virtually submerged by the Birecik dam on the Euphrates.

On the ground floor, where visitors enter, arrows direct you along the best route around an incredible array of mosaic floor panels, taken from the houses of wealthy citizens at Zeugma. Particularly impressive are the re-creations of Roman peristyle villas, complete with their original mosaic flooring and wall frescoes. The mosaics themselves, most of which portray scenes from Classical Greek mythology, including Perseus and Andromeda, Eros and Psyche, and Pasiphae and Daedelus, are well labelled in English.

Below ground level, a section is devoted to the bathhouse of a gymnasium complex, including mosaics, water pipes, toilets and the under-floor heating system – and a magnificent bronze statue of the god of war, Mars. The first floor holds yet more wonderful mosaics, including a superb scene of Zeus kidnapping Europa. The mosaic panel that has become a symbol of today’s city, the enigmatic face of a young female known as the “Gypsy Girl”, gets a darkened room all to itself.

The free, 15-minute video on the history of Zeugma that’s shown at regular intervals, to the left of the entry turnstiles, is well worth catching.

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