Tuesday, January 26, 2021

The Zeugma Mosaic Museum

The Zeugma Mosaic Museum  in the town of Gaziantep, Turkey, the biggest mosaic museum in the world, containing 1700m2 of mosaics opened to the public on 9 September 2011,  Named for its pontoon bridge of boats that crossed the Euphrates River at that location, Zeugma was founded as Seleucia by Seleucus I Nicator, one of the general successors of Alexander the Great, in the early 3rd century BCE.  By 64 BCE, the Romans controlled the city and Zeugma became a military base and thriving commercial center with a population of about 70,000 people. In 253 CE, it was destroyed by the Sassanids, but was later rebuilt.  However, continuing raids by the Persians and Arabs led to its abandonment in the 7th century CE.

The mosaics, remained relatively unknown until 2000 when plans for new dams on the Euphrates meant that much of Zeugma would be flooded. Many of the mosaics remain covered and teams of researchers continue to work on the project to rescue them.

In addition to the mosaics featured here, more can be seen at:


This incredible mosaic known as the Eros and Psyche Mosaic from the 2nd-3rd century CE was found at the Poseidon Villa at Zeugma. Depicted in astonishing detail is Eros, preparing Telete for marriage. According to Apuleius, the jealous Venus commanded her son Cupid (the god of love) to inspire Psyche with love for the most despicable of men. Instead, Cupid placed Psyche in a remote palace where he could visit her secretly and, by his warning, only in total darkness. One night Psyche lit a lamp and found that the figure at her side was the god of love himself. When a drop of oil from the lamp awakened him, he reproached Psyche and fled. Wandering the earth in search of him, Psyche fell into the hands of Venus, who imposed upon her difficult tasks. Finally, touched by Psyche's repentance, Cupid rescued her, and, at his instigation, Jupiter made her immortal and gave her in marriage to Cupid. This is a floor mosaic from the presence chamber in the Poseidon villa, representing the moment Psyche and her lover rejoin.  Courtesy of Carole Raddato.

The Achilles Mosaic was at the bottom of a pool with a waterspout in the impluvium of the Poseidon Villa in Zeugma. Achilles has been sent by his parents to a friend-King's palace where he even dresses up as a woman. Odysseus wants to find him, an plays a trick to find him amongst the "women": he brings fine gifts of clothing, jewellery, but also fine weaponry. The one to grab that must be Achilles. Here he's found out.  Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons contributor and friend, Dick Osseman.

The Andromeda Mosaic.  Perseus was the son of Zeus and Danaë, the daughter of Acrisius of Argos. As an infant he was cast into the sea in a chest with his mother by Acrisius, to whom it had been prophesied that he would be killed by his grandson. A [..] deed attributed to Perseus was his rescue of the Ethiopian princess Andromeda when he was on his way home with Medusa's head. Andromeda's mother, Cassiopeia, had claimed to be more beautiful than the sea nymphs, or Nereid ; so Poseidon had punished Ethiopia by flooding it and plaguing it with a sea monster. An oracle informed Andromeda's father, King Cepheus, that the ills would cease if he exposed Andromeda to the monster, which he did. Perseus, passing by, saw the princess and fell in love with her. He turned the sea monster to stone by showing it Medusa's head and afterward married Andromeda. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons contributor and friend, Dick Osseman.

The Daedalus Mosaic.  The Daedalus and Icarus mosaic. From the Enc. Britt. about Daedalus: (Greek: “Skillfully Wrought”), mythical Greek architect and sculptor, who was said to have built, among other things, the paradigmatic Labyrinth forKing Minos of Crete. Daedalus fell out of favour with Minos and was imprisoned; he fashioned wings of wax and feathers for himself and for his son Icarus and escaped to Sicily. Icarus, however, flew too near the Sun, and his wings melted; he fell into the sea and drowned. The island on which his body was washed ashore was later named Icaria. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons contributor and friend, Dick Osseman.

The Zeus and Europa Mosaic.  Europa [is] in Greek mythology, the daughter either of Phoenix or of Agenor, king of Phoenicia. The beauty of Europa inspired the love of Zeus, who approached her in the form of a white bull and carried her away from Phoenicia to Crete. There she bore Zeus three sons: King Minos of Crete, King Rhadamanthus of the Cyclades Islands, and, according to some legends, Prince Sarpedon of Lycia. She later married the king of Crete, who adopted her sons, and she was worshiped under the name of Hellotis in Crete, where the festival Hellotia was held in her honour.  Possibly Astypalaia (Europa's sister who was abducted by Poseidon) rides a sea-leopard (pardalokampos). . Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons contributor and friend, Dick Osseman.


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