Geographic Location and History
The ancient city of Zeugma lies on the western shore of the Euphrates, whose fertile shores gave birth to civilisation in prehistoric times and which since antiquity has marked the boundary between the Eastern and Western worlds.Zeugma lies near the village of Belkıs ten kilometres east of Nizip in the province of Gaziantep. Zeugma and Samosata (today known as Belkıs and Samsat respectively) were situated at the two easiest points for crossing this great river, and the name Zeugma meant ‘bridgehead’ or ‘place of crossing’. Alexander the Great is said to have crossed the Euphrates here on his way to conquer Persia. Subsequently one of his generals, Seleucos I Nicator (312-281 BC), founder of the Seleucid Empire, established twin cities here: Apameia on the east bank, named after his Persian born wife Apama, and Seleukeia on the west bank, named after himself. Seleukeia was later renamed Zeugma, and became one of the four major cities of the kingdom of Commagene. Its strategic position led to its rapid development.After the region came under Roman rule the Scythian Legion (Legio IIII Scythica) was stationed here, as a result of which the city gained still greater importance. For two centuries the city was home to high ranking officials and officers of the Roman Empire, who brought their families, advisors, slaves, and a sophisticated cultural life. As a city of both military importance and a vital commercial centre between East and West, Zeugma enjoyed its golden age in the 1st and 2nd centuries AD. Its importance is reflected in the works of art and villas uncovered here. In 252 AD the renowned Sassanid ruler Shahpur I (241-272) laid siege to Dura and captured the city. Archaeological evidence shows that the Sassanids went on to burn and raze Zeugma around 252.On the acropolis known as Belkıs Hill are the ruins of a temple dedicated to Tykhe, goddess of fate. The city stretches from the acropolis down to the Euphrates 300 metres below, an area of approximately two thousand hectares.

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