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New rock-cut chambers found at the Zeugma Mosaic Museum

Archaeologists now have found two of the rock-cut chambers in the House of Muses in Zeugma, in Turkey. Zeugma is an ancient Hellenistic and Roman city. It is popular for its intricate mosaics. It has been preserving the mosaics for almost 2000 years. Also, it is the home to the largest mosaic collection in the world. It has a dedicated institution, the Zeugma Mosaic Museum.

These rooms are now the latest discovery on the excavations., which started in 2005. Ankara University professor Kutalmış Görkay is leading this excavation. He also discovered the House of the Muses first in 2007. The reason behind such a name is the mosaic on the floor that depicts the nine muses of ancient Greece. According to the legends, these muses rule over the arts and science and deliver inspiration to pursue the fields.

Other mosaics also portray the stories and the characters of Greek Mythology. It includes the ocean deities Oceanus and Thetys and the other portraits of the unidentified people.

According to Görkay, the two of these symmetrical chambers were in use for dining as per the seasons. The area features the design of the summer and winter dining rooms. The rooms are also quite identical.  The eastern rock-cut room has more space and a flat ceiling. The western rock-cut room is close to oecus, which is a large hall or a salon. A vaulted ceiling of opus caementicium and bricks are covering it.

Touch the rough-hewn chambers seem plain today; they must have had a very different look during the time of inception.

“Both rock-cut chambers do not have mosaic pavements. However, their floors were probably paved with figural [designs],” Görkay added.

It seems that the home belonged to an upper-middle-class family who had much entertainment in their dining room. These two dining rooms flank the central courtyard. It must have allowed easy access to both indoor and outdoor.

Much of the town flooded in 2000 when a new dam took place on the Euphrates. The team of Görkay has excavated over 50 feet of the solid which had buried and filled the dining rooms. They will continue their world throughout 2021. They are also planning to strengthen the structure with steel and scaffoldings and injections to preserve it. Upon the restoration, an on-site museum will open for the visitors. The city will hopefully get another museum apart from Zeugma Mosaic Museum.