Hotel-museum presents artifacts from 5 periods
During the construction of a hotel, which started 10 years ago in the Antakya district of the southern province of Hatay, some archaeological works were discovered underground. The hotel’s construction has been continuing since then, and the archeological findings on the foundation have been carefully unearthed and preserved during this process.
The artifacts in the museum, which was opened in January last year on a closed area of 550 square meters, are from the Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Medieval and Islamic periods.
In the museum, lots of unique artifacts, including the Hellenistic period walls, the mosaic piece decorated with bird figures from the fifth century, a large-sized and multi-room Roman bath and a mosaic depicting wild nature, are on display in their original place of discovery.
Among the artifacts on display, the mosaic, which is considered to be used as a “public area” in the sixth century A.D. and known as “the world’s largest one-piece floor mosaic” with an area of approximately 1,200 square meters, attracts the attention of visitors the most.
Also, in the exhibition area of the museum, approximately 350 unique archaeological artifacts can be seen in glass showcases.
Speaking to the state-run Anadolu Agency, the Hatay Archeology Museum director, Ayşe Ersoylan, said that the place was built with a hotel-museum concept.
Explaining that the museum area was discovered during the drilling works of the hotel construction and was created after long years of meticulous work, Ersoy said, “People who come here see the history of Antiochia by going through various layers from its establishment in the third century B.C. to the 15th century without interruption.”
“There are few examples in the world, but this museum is a first in Turkey. It is a living museum. This is an archaeological wealth that has been covered by an alluvial layer and hidden under the ground for years, and presented to us again,” Ersoy added.
There are numerous works on display in the museum, but the one-piece mosaic of 1,200 square meters is the first to attract the attention of visitors, she said.
Stating that this mosaic was used as a “public space” in the sixth century A.D. and that its appearance resembles a hand-woven rug, Ersoy said: “We know that it is the world’s largest one-piece mosaic form made with a rug pattern. It served as a gathering area, and it covers a very large area.”
“Since the ancient city of Antiochia was one of the important cities in the world during the Roman period, the city was experiencing such glorious days that a forum, a gathering place, was built there, just like today’s squares where people meet,” she added.
Noting that the mosaic did not lose its authenticity against floods, invasions and earthquakes in the depths of the earth for years, Ersoy said, “It was made so solid that it did not lose its elasticity and survived to this day.”
Stating that this work is the apple of the museum’s eye, Ersoy said that even though the hotel was built 66 feet high, no ancient artifacts, ruins or architectures were destroyed in the process.
Ersoy stated that 30,000 archaeological artifacts were found during the museum excavations, and approximately 350 of them were exhibited in the exhibition section.
“During the 10-year archaeological excavation process, we planned to design this place with a museum and hotel concept and present these artifacts to people. It was then handed over to the Culture and Tourism Ministry. It was opened to visitors in January 2020, and despite the pandemic, 22,500 visitors have seen our museum since its opening,” Ersoy said.