Euphrates’ inundation of Zeugma
Efforts are being made to remove the ancient remains of Zeugma to an open-air museum in the Southeastern city of Gaziantep. Zeugma sits in an area that will be covered in the waters of the Euphrates, as part of the Birecik Dam project.
Archaeologists have been pressed for time, with excavation of the site having begun only recently. They have managed to uncover only 10 percent of the site. Those artifacts that archeologists have been able to retrieve have been moved to the nearby city of Gaziantep, where they will be exhibited in an open-air museum.
Gaziantep Governor Muammer Güler, speaking about the excavation, said that a reconstruction of one of the dwellings discovered at the site would be placed in Gaziatep’s 100. Yıl Atatürk Park. Another dwelling found will be exhibited in the new location of the town of Belkıs, which lies on the ancient city of Zeugma.
THE MODERN CONUNDRUM Mr. Mumcu commented on the clashing of two fundamental needs: Turkey’s historical heritage on one side, and on the other, the need to carry out construction projects. It is difficult to strike the proper balance between the two conflicting needs, Mr Mumcu said.
Gaziantep Governor Muammer and Urfa Governor Şehabettin Harput briefed Mumcu on the Birecik Dam. Afterwards, Mr. Mumcu took a tour of the site. Officials have said that the Zeugma site represents the first case in which Roman artifacts had been uncovered near the Euphrates River.
Mr. Mumcu asserted that only one-third of Belkis would be flooded, adding that excavation of the Zeugma site would continue in the those areas of the city not overcome by the dam waters. He asserted finally that the old site of Belkıs would become an open-air museum. He chided a reporter who asked him if was late visiting the site, given that there are only 20 days left before it dissapears.
(A.A. 13 May.2000)
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