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Turkey's largest mosaic discovered on the Med

HATAY- Anatolia News Agency | 10/14/2011 12:00:00 AM |

Drilling work at a construction site in Hatay has unearthed ancient works including an 850-square-meter mosaic. Said to be Turkey’s largest, the mosaic will be exhibited in a new hotel at the site along with other discoveries

Archaeological treasures, including a large mosaic, have been found during drilling at a construction site for a new hotel in the southern province of Hatay. The mosaic found during the drilling is 850 square meters and estimated to be the largest mosaic discovered in Turkey. As a result of the discovered artifacts the construction project will now only employ man power and the hotel will display the precious works when it opens.

Antakya Municipal Mayor Lütfü Savaş, deputy manager Faik Selçuk Kızılkaya and Hatay Museum manager Nalan Yastı evaluated the latest discoveries at the hotel construction site on the Hatay-Reyhanlı road. The construction project belongs to businessman Necmi Asfuroğlu.

Thanks to the artifacts discovered the city will have another museum, Mayor Savaş said, adding that the construction works are still continuing. The hotel will also contribute to employment in the city in Hatay. The hotel will consist of two parts. There will be a museum in the basement. This will contribute to the cultural heritage of the city, according to Savaş.

“The excavations and discovery of ancient artifacts under the soil are very important, exhibiting them in the museum is vital for the city’s cultural background,” he said, adding that Hatay will gain a new museum thanks to the drilling process. There are further attempts to building another hotel in Hatay, he said, adding that he is positive about those initiatives.

After the discovery amid the drilling, the Hatay Museum started a six-month rescue excavation project in July 2010, Hatay Museum manager Nalan Yastı said. The necessary documents about the excavation were sent to the Adana Culture and Environment Protection Association, she said, adding that the association agreed to exhibit the valuable artifacts in the hotel, which is currently under construction.

Construction continues

An ancient glass artisan workshop, walls from the Hellenistic era and the largest mosaic have been found.

The construction of the hotel is still continuing under the protection and controls of museum officials, said Yastı. The officials constantly control the drilling process and preserve the new artifacts unearthed, she added. The 850-square-meter mosaic is not damaged and in very good condition, she said, adding that it is the first time a mosaic like this has been unearthed in Turkey.

There was also a 3,000-square-meter marble floor discovered during the drilling process, she said, adding that the construction process never damaged the artifacts.

Businessman Necmi Asfuroğlu who owns the construction project said they did not want to damage the artifacts discovered during construction. There will be a 17,000-square-meter museum to exhibit those artifacts, he added. The hotel, on the other hand, will have 200 rooms.

“We avoid using any kind of construction machines in order not to damage ancient artifacts on the site,” he said, adding that they are working with man power.

“Our aim is to finish both museum and hotel in 2013 April,” he said. Currently, there are 90 people working on the hotel’s construction. The hotel and the museum were estimated to cost $60 million.

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