Friday, January 19, 2018

A Tale of Two Cities: The Excavations at Zeugma on the Euphrates

With Memories of our April CAS excursion to the remarkable site of Gobekli Tepe still fresh, January promises a new adventure into Turkey when Dr. Jennifer Tobin takes us on a time adventure into the classic world of Zeugma on the Euphrates.

Around 300 BCE Seleucids (Dynasties founded by Alexander’s generals) I founded the twin cities of Seleucia and Apamea, each on opposite sides of the Euphrates River. The bridge that united them, the only permanent crossing of the Euphrates be-tween the Taurus Mountains and Babylonia, became so important that the two cities eventually became known as Zeugma, or “Bridgetown.”

Zeugma became one of the more significant urban centers of the Seleucid Empire, and when it became part of the Roman province of Syria early in the 1st century CE it hosted one of the Syrian legions, Legio IIII Scythica. The influx of soldiers and civilians swelled the population of the two cities, causing a building boom of houses and shops. In the mid-third century this thriving community was sacked by a Sasanid (Persian Dynasty) invasion led by Shapur I, and nearly every quarter of Zeugma was destroyed by fire.

Late in the 20th century, in or-der to improve the socio-economic climate of the Gaziantep region of Tur-key, the Birecik Dam was constructed over the Euphrates River, just down-stream from Zeugma.

The resulting artificial lake completely flooded Apamea, while approximately 30% of Seleucia was inundated. As the flood waters rose over Seleucia emergency excavations were organized.

Funded by the Packard Humanities Institute, a multinational team raced against time to uncover the buried city. The excavations yielded evidence for public life in the city, including several baths, a temple and a possible hall of records, but more spectacular were the results from the domestic quarters, which uncovered a number of houses, many sumptuously decorated with fine mosaics and elaborate wall paintings. This lecture will present an over-view of the Zeugma excavations, concentrating on the remains from the private sector of the settlement.

Jennifer Tobin: Brief Biography

Jennifer Tobin graduated from Stan-ford University with two BA’s, in Classical Studies and English Literature, and took her PhD in Classical Archaeology from the University of Pennsylvania. She was a visiting Assistant Professor at Bilkent University, in Ankara, Turkey, and at Arizona State University, and since 2005 has been an Associate Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Dr. Tobin has participated in excavations in Cyprus, Greece, Jordan and Turkey and has led archaeological tours for such companies as Far Horizons, Peter Sommers, Roads Scholars and Smithsonian.

She has authored two books, Black Cilicia: A Study of the Plain of Issus during the Roman and Late Roman Periods (Oxford, BAR International Series 1275, 2004) and Herodes Attikos and the City of Athens: Patronage and Conflict under the Antonines, (Amsterdam: JC Gieben, 1997) and is completing a book on the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. She has also recorded a series of lectures on the ancient world with Recorded Books.

Zeugma Mosaic Museum

Zeugma Mosaic Museum, in the town of Gaziantep, Turkey, is the biggest mosaic museum in the world. The museum's mosaics are focused on Zeugma, thought to have been founded by a general in Alexander the Great’s army. The treasures, including the mosaics, remained relatively unknown until 2000 when artifacts appeared in museums and when plans for new dams on the Euphrates meant that much of Zeugma would be forever flooded. A large number of the mosaics remain covered and teams of researchers continue to work on the project.

The 90,000-square-foot museum features a 7,500-square-foot exhibition hall and replaces the Bardo National Museum in Tunis as the world’s largest mosaic museum.

Members Night

Happy New Year!
Farewell 2017 and an unexpected program change

O ur December 3rd an-nual holiday cele-bration was an un-qualified smash. The complimentary fusion Pe-ruvian/American dinner ca-tered by Edith Young was en-thusiastically received by the dinner guests. The collective joy that filled the room attests to the CAS sense of fellowship.
Unexpectedly we received shat-tering news that because of health issues our guest speaker was unable to attend our Holi-day Luncheon. An otherwise major problem—but not for the CAS. President Ray Young’s so-lution was “The Moche—Drugs, Sex, Music, and Puppies!” Ray selected, introduced and chaired Q & A to a Video lecture presented by Professor Edwin Barnhart, Director of the Maya Exploration Center.

Discovery of the spectacular tomb of the Lords of Sipan has unleashed many new ideas about the Moche which in turn has elicited contending areas of controversy. Some of these contentions were brought to the attention of the CAS audience.

Members Night Election

Traditionally and as established by the CAS constitution Mem-bers night belongs to members. As such annual elections have an opportunity to throw the rascals out! Published at the end of this article is a slate of nominees. President Young will open the meeting to the floor for addi-tional nominations.
A tentative slate is published for the record.

What’s new?

Members Night is your chance to share an event. Have you been traveling? Perhaps a book or magazine article has made an impression. The CAS is anxious to hear from you. Talk to a CAS officer— help is yours for the asking but we want to hear from you.

CAS Nominations: Officers and Board 2018

President Raymond Young 2018
Lucy Kennedy 2018
Editor Robert Stelton 2018
Treasurer Michael Ruggeri 2018
Director Judith Greene 2020
Director Peter Greene 2020 Director Jeanne Jesernik 2020
Director Jacqueline Leipold 2020
Director Doreen Stelton 2020

the palimpsest

Bibliophiles received an early holiday gift, December 17, 2017 when Egypt reopened the ancient St. Catherine’s monastery library which holds around 3,300 manuscripts of mainly Christian texts in Greek, Arabic, Syriac, Georgian and Slavonic among other languages.

During the library’s renovation archaeologists may have found some of Hippocrates’ medical recipes.
According to the Librarian the most valuable manuscript is the Codex Sinaiticus which dates back to the fourth century.

The monastery complex, Located in the heart of some of Planet Earth’s cruelest geography, must as well contend with loathsome inhuman renegades.

Thanks to Jesse Carroll for alerting the Codex with this bit of good news.

Bob Stelton