GAZİANTEP – Anadolu Agency
Some sculptures unearthed during archaeological excavations in the ancient city of Zeugma, which are on display at the Gaziantep Archaeology Museum, have been identified to have the same style as the ones in Syria’s ancient Palmyra city, which is currently on the world’s agenda after it received severe damage from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
The Gaziantep Archaeology Museum, which is readying to reopen soon after a five-year restoration process, is home to ceramic pieces from the Neolithic era, various figures from the Chalcolithic and Bronze ages as well as others from the Urartian, Hittite, Persian, Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine periods, and now the funerary steles discovered at the Zeugma ancient city.
The steles, however, have made the museum more significant.
Amid the destruction of cultural heritage in Palmyra by the jihadist group, the Gaziantep Archaeology Museum presents a glimpse of hope to those who had no chance to see the Syrian city. Museum officials say the steles have the same style as the ones in Palmyra and that some of the artifacts in Zeugma were believed to have been made by the masters in Palmyra in the past.
Gaziantep Mayor Fatma Şahin said the whole world was watching the incidents unfold in the region, where Turkey is located. “We are at a stage where we watch those who kill and those who are trying to keep others alive. The incidents in Syria destroy the cultural life there as well as the people. Here we open our home to these people,” she said.
“The Palmyra ancient city, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage List, dates back to the 2nd-3rd century B.C. Once upon a time, there were big civilizations and wealth in Palmyra at the same time as Zeugma.
Artifacts were exchanged between Zeugma and Palmyra. Neighborhood relations continued both in cultural and artistic meanings. The Gaziantep Archaeology Museum, the restoration of which has been finished, is home to the most beautiful treasures of the Roman era. In the museum we have a few funerary steles from Palmyra. At a time when Palmyra is being destroyed, its artifacts are kept at the Gaziantep Archaeology Museum. They reflect the beauty of their era,” she said.
Şahin said they were carrying out a campaign called, “Now it is time for Gaziantep,” with the aim of presenting the city to tourism.
“We believe these beautiful artifacts of Palmyra will contribute to this campaign. We invite people who want to see Palmyra’s artifacts to Gaziantep. We keep the cultural heritage of this geography for the future,” she said.