Roman rock-cut ‘dining room’ discovered under 15 meters of earth in Turkey’s ‘House of the Muses’

Roman ‘dining room’ hewn from rock discovered under 15 meters of earth in southeastern Turkey’s ‘House of the Muses’

  • The rocks were found at the site of ancient Zeugma, in the Turkish province of Gaziantep Turkey
  • They date back to the 2nd or 3rd century BC when Zeugma was under Roman control
  • A well-preserved mosaic depicting the goddesses who inspire mankind earned the house the name ‘House of Muses’
  • Archaeologists believe it may have belonged to an upper-class family
  • The rooms, which contain ornate mosaic floors, ‘show traces of the owner’s intellectual life’

Archaeologists have uncovered a rock-cut ‘dining room’ in the ‘House of Muses’, an excavation site in southeastern Turkey that dates back to the 2nd or 3rd century BC, when Asia Minor was under Roman rule.

After early fieldwork in the 1990s, excavations of the ancient city of Zeugma, now modern-day Gaziantep, began in 2004.

Ankara University archaeologist Kutalmis Görkay has quickly unearthed a trio of astonishingly intact mosaics from nearly 2,200 years ago — one mosaic, excavated in 2014, depicted the famous nine muses of ancient myth — giving the site its name ‘ The house of the muses.

“Muses are the main personifications of classical Greek education, especially in antiquity,” Görkay . said Hurriyet Daily News.

“The mosaic found in this house depicts goddesses and personifications that are said to contribute to Greek literature, history, poetry and music.”

After excavating some 15 meters of earth at the site, Görkay has discovered two rock chambers in the house that he believes were ancient dining rooms.

The rooms were decorated with elaborate mosaic floors and “show traces of the intellectual life of the then owner,” he told the newspaper.

In Turkey’s famous ‘House of the Muses’, two rock-cut rooms believed to be dining rooms from Roman times were discovered.

At its peak, Zeugma had a population of about 80,000, but the house likely belonged to a family “that was better off than the middle-class economy,” Görkay said, with multiple courtyards where dinners would have been held and basins where rainwater would have been collected. .

Strategically located near both the Taurus Mountains and the Euphrates River, Zeugma was originally founded by the Greeks in 300 BC, when it was known as Seleukia-on-the-Euphrates.

One of Alexander the Great’s generals, Seleucus I Nicator, built the first bridge over the Euphrates there.

In about 64 BC it was conquered by the Romans, who called it Zeugma, after the Greek name for the ‘bridge of boats’ that crossed the Euphrates there.

The rooms, with elaborate mosaic floors, were discovered by archaeologists after shoveling 50 soils during ongoing excavations in southeastern Turkey's Gaziantep province.

The rooms, with elaborate mosaic floors, were discovered by archaeologists after shoveling 50 soils during ongoing excavations in southeastern Turkey’s Gaziantep province.

Work to excavate the rock-cut chambers at Zeugma has paused as archaeologists tackle some 'risky cracks' with protective measures, including 'injections or steel structures'

Work to excavate the rock-cut chambers at Zeugma has paused as archaeologists tackle some ‘risky cracks’ with protective measures, including ‘injections or steel structures’

An incredibly well-preserved mosaic depicting the nine goddesses who inspire humanity (above) earned the house the name 'House of Muses'

An incredibly well-preserved mosaic depicting the nine goddesses who inspire humanity (above) earned the house the name ‘House of Muses’

Zeugma was “one of the most important cities in Anatolia, especially on the Eastern Roman border,” Görkay said, referring to half of Turkey on the Asian continent, also known as Asia Minor, which was conquered by the Roman Republic in 129 BC. was claimed.

Roman rule of Anatolia continued after the rise of the Roman Empire in the first century BC, until shortly after the sack of Rome in 410 AD.

After the safety issues have been addressed and the excavation is completed, the stone-carved 'dining rooms' will be opened to visitors

After the safety issues have been addressed and the excavation is completed, the stone-carved ‘dining rooms’ will be opened to visitors

Work in the rooms has been paused as Görkay’s team works to plug a series of “risky cracks” they’ve identified on the ceilings, but they hope to complete the excavation later this year.

Protective measures, including ‘injections or steel structures’, will ensure the site is safe when the rooms are eventually opened to the public.

Numerous other mosaics, frescoes and architectural details have been found in the area, with many pieces on display at the Zeugma Mosaic Museum, which has the largest collection of mosaics in the world.

ANATOLI: WHEN DID ROME RULE TURKEY?

Roman legions invaded Anatolia, the part of Turkey located on the continent of Asia, in the early 2nd century BC.

By 129 BC. claimed the Republic of Anatolia, also known as Asia Minor, as its property and established the city of Ephesus as the regional capital.

Roman rule continued after the rise of the Roman Empire, with Constantine the Great consecrating a new imperial capital in Constantinople (now Istanbul) in the 4th century AD.

But after the sack of Rome in 410, a schism ensued and Constantinople became the heart of the new Eastern Roman Empire, also known as Byzantium.

In 1453 Constantinople fell under Sultan Mehmed II and became part of the Ottoman Empire.

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