Matchless mosaics from Zeugma
As the waters of the Birecik Dam rise over the ancient city of Belkıs-Zeugma in the Southeastern city of Gaziantep, the efforts of archeological teams to rescue the city’s historical ruins continue. Today, a French team discovered a floor mosaic, measuring 3 meters in width by 4 meters in length, on the second terrace of the area designated as (B), or the part of Zeugma that is expected to be buried underwater by Oct. 4. The piece was identified as belonging to a mosaic artist named Zasimaz. Another mosaic of the same artist had been found last week on the lower terrace. The mosaic has been dated to the second century A.D. and depicts mythological figures. On the outer border is the God of the Rivers Akheloos and the bust of a goddess representing abundance. A theatrical figure named Synarlstosat is also seen in the mosaic, but the exact meanings of the pictorial narration have still not been interpreted.
THE RIVER GOD AKHELOOS
Akheloos is identified as the longest river between Acarnania and Aetolia. Mentioned by Hesiodas and Homer, Akheloos in mythology was born of Okeanos and Tethy and is the name of the longest river as well as of the king of the river gods. There are many stories connected with Akheloos. The legend of Heracles says that Akheloos was in love with Deianeira, the daughter of the King of Chalydonia. The girl, fearing the ability of the god to turn himself into a bull and sometimes into a dragon, chooses to marry Heracles. Heracles and the river god battle over her and Akheloos is defeated in the first round. He then turns himself into a serpent and just as Heracles is about to kill him, becomes a raging bull. Heracles manages to chop off one of the bull’s horns and wins the girl.
The river god Akheloos gives up the girl but goes back to Heracles to retrieve his horn, offering him in its stead a horn of plenty that emits flowers and fruit. Another myth has it that the famous horn of plenty was the original horn of Akheloos, since it was the river god that was responsible for the waters irrigating the plentiful fields of the earth.
(A.A.09.08.2000)
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