Türkiye's spectacular mosaics await visitors - TravelMole

Türkiye’s spectacular mosaics await visitors

Sunday, Oct 02, 2022 0


Host to countless civilizations throughout its history, Türkiye has an abundance of ancient treasures. With exciting new discoveries made every day in the country, Türkiye’s collection of beautiful mosaics is the world’s largest.


Türkiye is home to one of the largest collections of mosaic art to date. Most of these masterpieces are from the Roman era and were discovered in the country’s southern and south-eastern regions. Many of these stunning examples of mosaic art are currently displayed in private museums aligned with an understanding of contemporary museology. And the main mosaic centers of Türkiye are summarized below:


Zeugma Mosaic Museum, Gaziantep


Zeugma, located 10 kilometers east of Gaziantep’s Nizip district, was a prominent point during the rule of the Roman Empire. The city’s magnificent villas, lively social life, and bustling river trade made it a center of attraction – and its artisans were renowned throughout the region. The wealthy, who made up a significant part of the city’s inhabitants, were able to commission splendid murals and mosaics for their villas. Wall frescoes were painted by Zeugma’s master artists, who also adorned floors with depictions of mythological tales and figures using colorful stones extracted from the Euphrates River.


The breath-taking mosaics found during the excavations of the Zeugma Ancient City are now exhibited at the Zeugma Museum in Gaziantep. The Zeugma Mosaic Museum, one of the most important mosaic museums in the world, has an extraordinary mosaic collection in terms of subject and color diversity, as well as quality – in particular, the number of tesserae (mosaic stones) per square meters. The works in the museum are displayed in accordance with the beliefs, culture and architecture of the environment in which communities living in the city at that time spent their daily lives. In addition to the Gypsy Girl Mosaic (Çingene Kız Mozaiği), whose fame has spread worldwide, the museum’s extensive collection features a bronze sculpture of Mars, the god of war.


Hatay Archaeology Museum, Hatay


With 3,250 square meters of mosaics on display, the Hatay Archaeological Museum hosts the world’s most extensive mosaic collection. Notable works from the Paleolithic, Neolithic, Chalcolithic, Bronze Age, Hittite, Hellenistic, Roman, Eastern Roman, Seljuk and Ottoman periods are displayed across the museum’s 10,700 square-meters exhibition area under nine themes.


The Hatay Archaeological Museum is considered among the world’s most important mosaic centers due to the size, quality and detailed processing of its mosaic collection and the unique stones used in the mosaics. Most of the collection was unearthed between 1932 and 1939 by researchers from Princeton University in the United States. The museum’s collection includes the “Abandoned Ariadne”, “Yakto”, and “Satyr and Hermaphrodite” mosaics, as well as the gorgeous “Four Seasons” mosaic, and the “Birth of Venus”, “Artemis” and “Skeleton” mosaics. Among the museum’s other notable works are the Suppiluliuma sculpture, the Arsuz Steles, the Assyrian Middle Stand, the Tyche statue, Antakya Sarcophagus and the Double Lion Column Pedestal.


Haleplibahçe Mosaic Museum, Şanlıurfa


The Şanlıurfa province, known worldwide for numerous archaeological finds, including the remarkable Stone Hills (Taş Tepeler), is also the site of important mosaics. The Haleplibahçe Mosaic Museum, adjacent to the Şanlıurfa Museum, Türkiye’s largest museum, displays mosaics unearthed in Haleplibahçe. The museum’s collection features the only mosaics depicting the Amazons, featuring hunting scenes and the lifestyles of these warrior women. Housed in the Museum’s Villa of The Amazons section, the mosaics are extremely valuable because they are made of 4 mm² stones from the Euphrates River.


Among the museum’s works are the “Orpheus”, “Ktisis” and “Achilleus’ Life” mosaics. The Orpheus Mosaic, smuggled abroad from Şanlıurfa, was repatriated and can be seen at the Haleplibahçe Museum today. In addition to being the oldest (194 AD) of the Edessa/Urfa mosaics, the Orpheus is significant because the artist’s name, Bar Saged, appears on the mosaic.


The “Ktisis” depicts the bust of Ktisis, the founder and protector goddess of the Villa of The Amazons. The Life of Achilles features scenes from the demigod’s life, including being dipped as an infant in the Styx River, his training by the wise horseman Chiron, and depictions of Thetis, who sadly watches as Achilles joins the Trojan War.


Great Palace Mosaics Museum, İstanbul


The mosaics exhibited in the Great Palace Mosaics Museum in İstanbul were unearthed in 1935 in the course of excavations in the north-eastern section of the cloister in the Eastern Roman Grand Palace. The works include 150 human and animal figures and 90 themes, dated between 450-550 AD. It is believed that these mosaics, containing scenes from daily life, nature and mythology, were made by artisans under the leadership of the leading mosaic masters of the era. The museum is located inside the Arasta Market in the Blue Mosque Complex.


The mosaics are composed of limestone, terracotta and coloured stones; those in the Great Palace Mosaics Museum have an average size of 5mm. ‘Opus Vermiculite’ style descriptions were placed between the marble pieces, whereas the ‘fish scale’ technique was applied to the white marble segments; the depictions are bounded by contours.


The mosaics in the Museum feature scenes such as a lizard eating a griffon, an elephant and a lion fighting, a mare breastfeeding a colt, a goose shepherding child, a man feeding a goat, a child feeding a donkey, a young girl carrying a jug, bears eating apples, and a hunter and a tiger fighting.

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