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GAZIANTEP TURKEY

GAZIANTEP TURKEY

18.01.2021

Gaziantep

Theselands, which hosted many important city-states, also welcomed numerous types ofbeliefs, from pagan cults to monotheistic religions. Each civilization addedits own cultural heritage to the previous one, which resulted in a wonderfulhistorical taste, just like the layers of dough that make up the baklava.This amazing taste came to light through the mosaics, sculptures and reliefs ofthe craftsmen in the region.

Apart from the visible ones, the people of Antep alsoattached importance to the underground. They built the world´s largestunderground Temple of Mitras, as well as the Kastels,an underground water system that has no similar example in the world, as asolution to regional problems.

If you are curious about the visible and invisibletreasures of Antep, come and explore this mysterious city!

Zeugma Ancient City

Zeugma has become a centerof attraction as one of the largest and most populous cities of the RomanPeriod, with its houses overlooking the Euphrates River, rivertrade, and the mobility in social life. Merchants, commanders and wealthypeople who settled in Zeugma built many villas on the scenicterraces; master artists used colored stones extracted from the EuphratesRiver to adorn the floors of these villas with the mosaics of mythologicalsubjects and geometric shapes from the ancient period, and the walls withfrescoes.

Unlike other ancient cities, limestone,extracted from the quarries next to the city, are frequently used in the worksfound in Zeugma. And it is noteworthy that the architecturalelements obtained were also made in that region. For this reason, importedmaterial has been used very limitedly in Zeugma

Zeugma drew the attention ofthe world with its unique mosaics depicting mythological Greekgods on the floor of a pool or a dining hall, and frescoes on the walls of thehouses, and with the bullas (about 100,000 bulla-seal imprints) found in allancient cities around the world.

Excavations in most of the mosaic villas in the citywere completed and the recovered artifacts were moved to the ZeugmaMosaic Museum. Those that could not be preserved were flooded by the BirecikDam. The villas located in the higher parts of the city were taken underprotection and opened to visitors. Archaeological excavations in the city arestill going on.

Zeugma Mosaic Museum

The Zeugma Mosaic Museum, whichis one of the largest Mosaic Museums in the world, has a very richmosaic collection in terms of subject and color variety. It attracts attentionwith the high number of tessera (name given to each mosaic stone) per squaremeter within the scope of approximately 3,000 m² of mosaic exhibited. Thetransfer of architecture, life style, plant and animal themes of the periodwith three-dimensional designs and high-level techniques made Zeugma oneof the most important museums worldwide.

The artifacts in the museum have been placed accordingto their location in the ancient city of Zeugma, exactly inaccordance with the beliefs, culture, and architecture of the environment inwhich people lived. In this way, while the mosaics at the closest position tothe Euphrates River are located at the entrance, the mosaicsrising towards the terraces of the city are placed in order. The mosaics fromthe elevations just below or above the current water level are exhibited in thesecond floor. The mosaics from the Roman Bath, which are exhibited in thebasement floor, are the mosaics extracted from just below the dam body. At thelowest floor of the Zeugma Mosaic Museum, visitors will see thearchitecture and mosaics of the bath, located at the lowest grade of the ZeugmaAncient City.

The statue of Mars (Ares), the God ofWar, made of bronze is one of the most striking artifacts exhibited inthe Zeugma Mosaic Museum. In addition, the world-known"GypsyGirl" Mosaic is exhibited here too.

The Zeugma Mosaic Museum isnot only a complex where mosaics are exhibited and conferences are held, butalso also an important mosaic institute with its workshops and laboratoriesthat provide all kinds of restoration and conservation services, as well aslarge-area warehouses, and working offices.

Archeology Museum

The Gaziantep Archeology Museum, foundedby Sebahat Göğüş, one of the first women archaeologists of the Republic Period,has an interesting and rich collection. The museum literally takes visitors ona historical journey from the past to the present, with exhibition units fromthe Early Paleolithic Period to the present. In 106 showcasesin the museum, the exhibition begins with fossils and rocks from the GeologicalPeriod, and ends with artifacts from the Paleolithic, Neolithic, Chalcolithic,Bronze Ages, Hittite, Hurri, Persian, Greek, Roman, Eastern Roman, Islamic, andOttoman Periods.

Yesemek Open Air Museum

Yesemek is known as thelargest stone quarry and sculpture workshop in the Middle East between the 14th centuryBC and the 7th century BC. The workshop, where the local peopleof Hurrians worked, was put into operation in the second half of the 2nd millenniumBC, when the region came under Hittite rule during the time of the Hittite KingShuppiluma I. The workshop, which suspended its activities during the migrationof the Sea Peoples in 1,200 BC, started to work again during the Late HittiteKingdoms from the 9th century BC. In the new period, especiallyHittite, Syrian, Aramaic and Assyrian art elements have gained importance. Thisstyle, known as Orientalism, formed the core of Greek art byinfluencing the Aegean Cultures that started to develop in the West.

Towards the end of the 7th century BC,Assyrians stopped the activities of the workshop and took the masters toAssyria. Having lost its masters, everything remained as it was in theworkshop, and from that moment on, for the Yesemek time wasliterally frozen.

The Yesemek Quarry and Sculpture Workshop, whichwas established on an area of 110 decares and apparently operated with a greatorganization, reveals all steps one by one, from cutting the stones from thequarry to the preparation and completion of the sculpture drafts. The quarryand workshop were active for about 500 years. They are important, as theyare the only example that has survived until today. The first step inthis workshop, which is regarded a unique sculpture school in the world, was todetermine the block boundaries on the surface rock, then regular hollows orchannels were opened, and dry trees were nailed into these hollows. Dry trees,which were expanded through wetting, would rupture the rock block by crackingit. The obtained basalt blocks were lowered to the working area below withwooden sleds and taken to the place where the sculpture would be exhibited.Fine craftsmanship of the sculptures was made in Hittite cities such as Zincirli and Sakçagözü,where they were placed. Despite the technological and artistic developmentsthat have taken place today, it has not been possible to reach the workshopsize and the number of sculptors working of that time.  This fact showsthe importance given to art by the human communities living here at that time.

Today, in the Open-Air Museum, wherenearly 500 sculptures and orthostat drafts are extracted from underground anddisplayed in a certain order, the gate lions, the guardians of the gates ofHittite cities constitute the vast majority of the drafts.  Monumentalsphinxes (female-headed winged lion), bear man, chariot, mountain men, huntingscenes are other important artifacts in the workshop.

Karkamış Ancient City

The most powerful of the Late Hittite Kingdoms,established in 300 years following the fall of the Hittite Empire towards thebeginning of the 12th century BC, is the Kingdom ofCarchemish. Carchemish came under the influence of the Hittites, whocaptured the city Aleppo and most of Syria in the second half of the 17th centuryBC. After the fall of the Hittite Empire around 1,195 BC, Carchemish becameone of the strongest independent kingdoms of the region. The city was destroyedby the Assyrian Sargon II in 717 BC. The settlement in the city continuedduring the Hellenistic and Roman periods, but afterwards it rapidly lost itsimportance and was abandoned.

As a result of the excavations, many new hieroglyphLuwian inscriptions, clay tablets, graceful walking lion, winged bull andwinged goat-bull reliefs, mosaic floors, were unearthed. The reliefs, mainlyfrom the Late Hittite period, the depictions of the goddess Kubaba andthe procession of soldiers, priests, people carrying various animals, princesarmed with long and straight swords, chariots, mixed creatures, and guardanimals, shed light on the lifestyle, clothing and culture of the early firstmillennium BC. Most of the Karkamış reliefs are exhibited inthe Ankara Anatolian Civilizations Museum and the GaziantepArcheology Museum today. Karkamış Ancient City willsoon be opened to visitors as an "Archeopark".

Dülük Ancient City and Temple of Mitras

Dülük is located on twoseparate areas as "Ancient City" and "Sanctuary". Its firstknown settlement dates back to 600,000 years. The ancientsettlement is under the ground on Keber Hill, adjacent to the northof Dülük Village, and its surroundings. The sanctuary is locatedon Dülük Baba Hill, approximately 3 kilometers north of DülükVillage.

In the scientific excavations carried out on KeberHill in Dülük, flint tools belonging to the Early PaleoticPeriod with the workshops where these tools were made, and the "ŞarklıCave", used for shelter purposes, have been discovered. As a result ofthese findings, Dülük is thought to be one of the oldest settlements inthe world.

Dülük has an important place not only for the historyof the city but also for the history of religions. Indeed, Dülük was the cultcenter of TesupZeus and JupiterDolichenus beliefs. As the homeland of the Roman god JupiterDolichenus, Dülük had a reputation beyond the borders of Commagene,where also the Mithra belief was present.

The Temple of Mitras in Dülük is thefirst of the Underground Temples of Mitras in Anatolia. Thereare many rock-cut chamber tombs here. Inside the tombs, there are sarcophagiwith religious and mythological reliefs.

The city of Dülük maintained its sacred position, whichhas existed since the Hittites, as an archbishopric in the ByzantinePeriod. When the Archbishopric moved to Zeugma in the 7th century,it lost its religious center position.

The ancient city of Dülük and today´s village of Dülükoffer visitors an enjoyable tour opportunity where they can see botharchitectural and natural beauties while digging into the depths of historywith its traditional limestone houses, historical mosque, rock tombs andchurches.

Tilmen Tumulus

As a result of excavations carried out since 2003in Tilmen, one of the most magnificent Hittite citiesafter Hattusa in Anatolia, this place has been turned intoan Archeopark. The finds from the tumulus show thebond and mutual relationship between ancient Mesopotamian and Syrian culturesand ancient Anatolian cultures. As a result of the excavations, itwas understood that this place was dated to 4,000 BC, and that it was a bigcity in the last period of the 3rd millennium BC. In thenortheast of the tumulus, there are 8 m high round towers that can be accessedby 17-step stairs and a ramp. The walls of the castle, which is protected bytwo rows of walls, rise with stones of incredible size and tons of weight -literally revealing the glory of the city at that time. The main entrance gateof the city is in the east; and both sides are protected by gate lions.

Gaziantep Castle

The Gaziantep Castle is one of themost beautiful examples of castles that could survive in Turkey, and is locatedon a hill in the city center. There is no exact information about when and bywhom the Gaziantep Castle was built. It is known that it wasfounded on a tumulus dating back 6,000 years from the present to theChalcolithic period, and that there was a small city named "Theban"in and around the castle in the 2nd - 3rd centuryAD. During this period, it was understood by archaeological excavations thatthe castle was built as a Roman watchtower and expanded over time. It took itscurrent form in the 6th century AD during the Byzantine EmperorJustinianos, also known as the architect of castles.

As a result of the archaeological excavations carriedout by the Gaziantep Archeology Museum, a bath and a mosquebelonging to the Ottoman period were unearthed. A gallery of the castle is nowused as the Gaziantep Defense and Heroic Panorama Museum.

Kurtuluş Mosque

It was designed by the Ottoman Palace Architect SarkisBalyan, and built by the stonemason Sarkis Taşçıyan in 1892. The building,which was built as an Armenian Gregorian Church, successfully integrated thestone architecture of the Antep-Aleppo region with the polygonal cupola systemof the Armenian church architecture. The bell of the church was made in Brazil,upon the order of an Armenian, named Hirant Köşkeryan, who lived abroad.

Being used as a prison for a while, this buildingserves as one of the biggest mosques in Gaziantep today. Theold bell tower was redesigned to a minaret, and an additional minaret was addedto the building. The three-ton custom-made church bell is under protection inthe Gaziantep Museum today.

Saint Bedros Church

The church, estimated to have been built in 1723,appeared in 2005 during the road construction works of the municipality. Thechurch was built of limestone during the period of 8th PatriarchBedros Krikor Catholicos, and decorated with pink marble and basalt stones. Thewell-preserved building serves as the Ömer Ersoy Cultural Center today.

Kendirli Church

The construction of the church started in 1860, andwas completed with the financial support of French King Napoleon III, Frenchmissionaries and the Catholic community due to the financial difficulties ofthe Gaziantep Catholic Armenians during its construction. A comprehensive aidcampaign was organized for the church, as it later became unusable. The oldchurch was demolished and the construction of the current church started in1898, lasted two years and was opened with a great ceremony in 1900. The planof the church is designed after the Saint Francis Church in Rome. Thechurch plan was sent from the Papal office in Vatican. It will serve asthe Anatolian-Turkish Archeology Institute in our days.

Synagogue

The synagogue, which was built in 1886 forthe worship of Jews living in Gaziantep during the Ottoman period, remainedidle for a time after the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, and themigration of the Jews in this region to the newly established state. Thesynagogue was revived as a result of the restoration works and now serves asa Cultural Center.

Kastels

The inhabitants of Gaziantep, with temperatures up to40 ° C in the summer months, collected the water to a certain center (Suburcu)over the channels called “Livas”. The Livas were openedunder the ground to prevent the evaporation of the rare water resourceavailable which was then distributed to the city from this center. Houses havebeen built on livas in order to provide for the water needs; and wells havebeen drilled from these houses to the livas. These wells not only served toprovide for the water needs, but also to prevent foodstuff from spoiling due tothe heat. For this, the food was hanged into the well during summer.

Additionally, large cavernous spaces were made atcertain levels of the Livas passing under the mosques, whichwere called "Kastel". These Kastels could be reached by30-40-step stairs from the surface, and contained toilets, bathing places,resting and ablution places, laundry and wool washing places, and some even hadsmaller praying rooms (masjid). Kastels have preserved theirimportance until the date when houses gained access to potable water in amodern sense, and until when fountains were built. Since these structures arepartially or completely underground, they did not attract much attention anddid not take place in art history terminology.

During your visit to Antep, you can visit the FiriciKastel, which has been built by the Mamluks in the 13th century.It is the oldest Kastel of Gaziantep. You can closely examine theseworldwide unique architectural structures, that are on the UNESCO´sWorld Heritage Tentative List.