Zeugma, the most recent wonder of the world
L’Express magazine ranked Zeugma as the leading wonder among its “New Seven Wonders of the World” classification The unparalleled mosaics unearthed from the antique city of Zeugma making the cover of the magazine, is viewed as a vital endeavor in Zeugma's introduction to the rest of the world. The ruins of the ancient city of Zeugma, or modern-day Belkýs, in the Southeastern Turkish town of Nizip in Gaziantep Province, is the focus of international attention these days. Its appearance on the cover of the French L’Express magazine as the leading phenomenon among the “New Seven Wonders of the World” received high acclaim by the residents of Gaziantep. Zeugma, the leading wonder among the “New Seven Wonders of the World,” designated by the magazine with French archeologists, will certainly raise more interest in the region, says Gaziantep Archeology Museum Assistant Director Kemal Sertok. “A presentation as such is unmatched with respect to an effective image management. Turkey should issue more articles on Zeugma in similar publications,” he adds. AN OPEN-AIR MUSEUM Gaziantep Province Tourism Director Mehmet Dođan says that the ruins are in danger of inundation by waters from the Birecik Dam on the Euphrates River. He added that the section of the city that is still above the water should be transformed into an open-air museum and the rescued mosaics should be restored and exhibited in a nearby museum to be built, for the benefit of posterity. TURKEY STILL UNAWARE OF ITS TREASURES Gaziantep Tourism Director Sýtký Severođlu stressed Zeugma being on the cover of L’Express as the leading wonder among the “New Seven Wonders of the World” as a vital development. He said, “The world is aware of Zeugma’s significance and value, while the Turkish culture and tourism ministries are still in the dark. They haven’t been able to recognize this treasure as acknowledged by the press.” THE ANCIENT CITY OF ZEUGMA Zeugma, on the Euphrates River, was a link between Anatolia and Mesopotamia from earliest times. It was first used to bring timber from the Taurus Mountains to the urban civilizations of Southern Mesopotamia and was also a location where Assyrian traders used to stop on their way back and forth from Central Anatolia. The city actually comprised two cities on both sides of the river — Seleuceia and Apamea. Zeugma, meaning “link” or “bridge” in Greek, was founded in 300 B.C. by one of Alexander the Great’s generals to protect the communication links of the Seleucid Empire, which stretched from the Mediterranean Sea to India. Zeugma fell under the rule of Rome in the second and first centuries B.C. but the Parthian kingdom in the East became a rival for control of the area and the two powers entered into conflict during the first centuries A.D. Zeugma became an important military base, home of one of the legions on the Eastern frontier and was also a trading city on the “Silk Route.” The city lost its importance when the Roman Empire was extended to include Mesopotamia. The frontier was unstable during the Roman period but even after the Sassanian Empire pushed back the Byzantines into Anatolia, Zeugma remained the seat of a bishopric. The wealth of the city finally diminished as a result of the Arab victories over Byzantium and Sassanid Persia. In succeeding centuries, Arabs, Turks, Armenians, Mamluks, Crusaders and Kurds all fought over this area. Zeugma was forgotten when the main crossing over the Euphrates moved to Birecik in the Middle Ages. (A.A) January 24.2001
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