Zeugma Rescue Project
To develop a strategy for the Zeugma urgent excavation and rescue work launched under the coordination of the GAP Administration, examinations and observations were conducted at the site in May 2000 with the participation of staff from the GAP Administration, Turkish and foreign scientists, experts from Gaziantep Museum, Director of Cultural Affairs in Gaziantep and representatives of Birecik A.S. The antic city was divided into three zones as A, B and C as a result of these examinations and observations.
Zone A: This area is under water since June 2000. The Ministry of Culture and Tourism had conducted archeological excavations and documentation work in this area for the last 9 years. In this region which now remains under 372 meters as the altitude of the surface of the dam lake, rescue work continued until inundation.
Zone B: This zone covers the area under 385 meters as the highest level for the dam lake where urgent excavation and rescue work was materialized in October 2000.
Zone C: This is the area which is not affected by the dam lake but covers the main part of the antic city (about 70 percent of the city). The target is to carry out long term and full coverage work in this zone under the light of earlier work conducted in Zone B.
The overall objective of the urgent excavation and rescue work is to gather more information on the evolution of the city and to fulfill documentations to enable future generations to grasp the historical importance of the settlement. Since full excavation is impossible for such a large city, this work will proceed on a sampling strategy. This will also throw light upon the character, spread, nature and order of remains in Zone B.
First observations in the area yielded some natural topographic zones. Different topographic features of each zone give an idea about how and mainly for what purposes each zone had been used. Consequently, the Zone B, which extends for about 1 km was divided into different topographical parts and archaeological works were given start in 19 excavation points expected to yield important data about the structure of the city.
In another part of the evaluation phase, a geophysical surveying was conducted by using ground radar techniques (GPR). This surveying, not exerting any harm on possible remains under the ground helped excavation work in directing it to some special points and locations.
Following these earlier evaluations at the excavation site, there was an urgent excavation and rescue work of international character racing against time to be completed in 4 October 2000.
There were 250 manual workers and over 100 archeologists and conservation experts taking part in this work.
Urgent excavation and rescue work unearthed many properties including houses, shops, workshops, religious quarters dating back to the early years of Christianity, remains of a temple, paths and waste water discharge canals. Other items found include decorative window cases, figurines, glass objects, bronze statues, innumerable coin, helmets, iron spears and knives, golden rings, leaves made of gold, golden fibula, bulla, a relief stele describing Antiochus, King of the Kommagene shaking hands with Helios, God of Sun, column base with cross relief, oil lamps and many other smaller objects of glass, metal, ceramic and earth.
Under the Conservation Program prepared by the "Centro di Conzervazione Archaeologia" (CCA), having a high level of expertise in conservation work, frescoes, mosaics and remains that could not be moved were made subject to in-situ conservation. This work includes the cleaning of frescoes and mosaics at their original locations and then their covering with "limestone mortar" so as to minimize the effect of water.
Since mosaics "Flight of Europa", "Eros and Psyche" and "Three Women" were of great importance they were moved to the laboratory. Conservation and restoration work on finds and mosaics continued after 4 October 2000, the date for the completion of the impoundment program.
All findings obtained in excavations were documented in line with the rules of modern archeology without missing any detail. Documentation works are based upon three methods as written records and drawings, digital camera and conventional photography. Documentation work including all details from the smallest architectural object to larger buildings, from small finds to earth samples was conducted in computers. There is also a web site.
As a result of this work in Zeugma, there is now a large pile of archeological records including hundreds of drawings, thousands of written documents, over 500 photographs and 2,376 digital visions. Over 1,000 of small finds thus far recorded consist of coins. The number of bulla found can be considered a world record in this field.
WORK PERFORMED BY THE GAP ADMINISTRATION IN ZEUGMA URGENT EXCAVATION AND RESCUE PROJECT
In this work funded by the PHI, the role of the GAP Administration was to ensure coordination among different parties, extend logistics support and to facilitate relevant financial transfers.
The GAP Administration ensured coordination among various parties, including governmental and non-governmental organizations, in order to ensure a fast, systematic and scientific rescue work at the site.
Work Performed in Excavation House
To provide boarding facilities to experts taking part in the Zeugma Project, the GAP administration rented a boarding facility belonging to Birecik Municipality. Taking over facilities from the Municipality, the GAP Administration managed to make the facilities fully ready for service within such a short time as 6 weeks. At the end of work conducted by the Administration, the facilities were ready with its restaurant, laundry, health cabin, a store where findings from the excavation site would be kept and 6 prefabricated buildings as boarding facilities.
Work Performed at the Excavation Site
To ensure fast, smooth and systematic work, the Administration provided various materials and equipment including mobile tents, latrines, cabins, coolers, generator, a lighting system to be used in urgent cases, pumps, working machines, loaders, tractors, water tanks etc. in line with the requests of the excavation team.
Zeugma Gendarme Post
A prefabricated building was placed on a hill overlooking the site in order to guard the site and deter any illegal activity or smuggling.
Work Performed in Gaziantep Museum
For the conservation and restoration of mosaics and frescoes found at the site, 2 labs were erected at the yard of Gaziantep Museum within 2 weeks time.
Personnel Contribution of GAP Administration
Considering the urgency and importance of the project, the GAP Administration allocated 15 personnel, 8 being full-time and 7 part-time and 3 vehicles to avoid or minimize the effect of any emerging problem.
In order continue with post-excavation works in a systematic and scientific manner and to launch new projects for the future of Zeugma, the GAP Administration is maintaining its coordination function with regard to the PHI, relevant organizations and agencies, teams engaged in excavations and local governments.
Upon the completion of excavation work on 4 October 2000, evaluation, documentation, computer entry and storage arrangement works were started at the excavation center.
5 experts from the Turkish team taking part in excavation work continued with the classification, drawing, photographing, documentation and reporting on hundreds of thousands of clay bulla and coins. This team was also engaged in the follow up of new finds emerging as a result of changes in the level of water and waves and in ensuring coordination with other teams. Other teams in the urgent excavation and rescue also conducted their work in a very tidy manner.
There were several interval publications carried out by the team, in order to use in scientific works related with "Zeugma Archeological Excavation and Rescue Work". Publication of a scientific report including whole project works is envisaged.
As a matter of fact, the book "Zeugma: A Bridge from Past to Present" was published in Turkish and in English in 2001.
CONSERVATION AND RESTORATION WORKS
Frescoes (Wall Paintings)
The GAP Administration annexed two buildings to Gaziantep Museum to be used as laboratories. Expert teams are now engaged in the conservation and restoration of mosaics and frescoes obtained in the antic city.
There is a protocol between the GAP Administration and Ankara University for the conservation and restoration of frescoes found in Zone A. Under this protocol a team headed by Y.Selçuk Sener from Baskent Vocational College of Ankara University completed conservation and restoration work on 91 panels of frescoes transferred from Zeugma to Museum from 10 May to 5 June 2001. During this process, each panel transferred from the site to the museum underwent about 50 different interventions in 10 major stages to be ready for exhibition.
Frescoes removed from 14 different sections of two Roman villas constitute 91 panels of different sizes. After adjoining some frescoes during restoration, the number of panels dropped to 81.
These works were realized under the permission of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, supervision of Gaziantep Museum, coordination of the GAP Administration and funds allocated by the PHI. Restoration works were completed by a team of 13 persons in 7 months from 23 October 2000 to 23 May 2001.
Conservation and restoration work on all pieces obtained in excavations was performed by a group of Turkish and Italian experts headed by Dr. Roberto Nardi from the Centro di Conservazione Archaeologica (CCA).
The conservation and restoration of mosaics and metal foundings are going on in Gaziantep museum laboratories which is taken from A region. The completed part of conservation and restoration of mosaics is total 870 m2. Furthermore, while the water level of Birecik Dam Lake is getting lower, the works are completed for the three mosaic which are carried to the laboratory.