GAZİANTEP - Anatolia News Agency
Ertuğrul Günay examines the mosaics in Zeugma’s Musalar House. AA photo
Culture and Tourism Minister Ertuğrul Günay visited the Muzalar House excavations in the ancient city of Zeugma in the southeastern province of Gaziantep’s Nizip district on July 20. The excavations have been continuing for five years in the ancient city under the sponsorship of İşbank.
Gaziantep’s Zeugma Museum opened last year with a budget of 40 million Turkish Liras, Günay said. “All these sponsorships are very important to us because we made a great effort with a very limited budget.”
He said he saw in western European museums how the Middle Eastern region had been robbed over the last 200 years. “People used to criticize us, saying that we did not have museums to protect historical artifacts. Now we are taking steps to refute these criticisms. After opening the Zeugma Museum, I feel more self-confident in other museums around the world. Now I hope that we will open more world standard museums in other parts of Turkey.”
He said the Zeugma Mosaic Museum was the largest in the world, and that they had also finished the restoration project of the old archaeology museum in Gaziantep.
Günay said there were currently more than 120 archaeological excavations in Turkey, 48 of which were being carried out by foreigners. “The funding for excavations was below 2 million Turkish Liras in the 2000s but now it is above 48 million liras. The return we obtained from museums was 70 million liras at the end of 2007, when I took the post. We increased it to 256 million liras last year. But Turkey needs more.”