Gypsy Girl mosaic pieces back home in Turkey
Under a protocol signed in May by The Turkish Culture and Tourism Ministry and Bowling Green State University in the U.S., 12 pieces of the Roman-era mosaic were sent back to Turkey from an airport in Chicago, Illinois.
The pieces landed at Atatürk Airport in Istanbul to be taken to the southeastern province of Gaziantep province.
The 12 pieces were discovered in the early 1960s during illegal excavations in the ancient Roman town of Zeugma, and the parts were smuggled abroad.
The pieces were on display at the Bowling Green State University (BGSU) in Ohio. The BGSU purchased the pieces for $35,000 in 1965 from antiquities dealer Peter Marks at the Peter Marks Works of Art, a now-shuttered New York gallery. The pieces were eventually restored and installed under thick protective glass in the floor of the Wolfe Center for the Arts at the university, which opened in 2012.
In May, the BGSU signed an agreement with the Turkish culture and tourism ministry to return the ancient pieces. BGSU President Rodney Rogers said they took it as a legal and ethical duty to return the tile fragments to Turkey.
Since then, Turkish authorities had been in continuous contact with the BGSU for the relevant returning procedures to take place.
“This is a four-year-long work. We have worked with four of our ministers. Our president has given an order as soon as he heard the situation, saying, ‘Whatever is necessary, let it be completed in a fast way, let us succeed in this.’ … We have undertaken a serious work with diplomacy,” Gaziantep Mayor Fatma Şahin said in the beginning of October.
The pieces will be temporarily exhibited in a special case at the
Zeugma Mosaic Museum in Gaziantep, the world’s biggest mosaic museum which opened in 2011. Later, they will be restored to their original place in mosaic.
The “Gypsy Girl” mosaic is considered to be the most important artifact of the Zeugma Mosaic Museum. Along with the mosaic, A bronze statue of the god of war “Mars,” Roman-era fountains and mosaics unearthed in a villa on the edge of the Euphrates are on display at the museum.
The Zeugma Mosaic Museum covers an area of 30,000 square meters and includes three different buildings, which have five seminar and conference rooms, administrative units, a library and exhibition fields.
According to officials, the Gypsy Girl mosaic, which is the symbol of both Gaziantep and Zeugma, is the main factor for the rise in visitors. The mosaic is displayed in a special section on the museum’s second floor.