Two Perfectly Preserved Ancient Roman Chambers Discovered in Turkey

Luke Allen, Staff Writer

https://www.artnews.com/art-news/news/rock-cut-chambers-found-in-ancient-zeugmas-mosaic-laden-house-of-the-muses-1234600259/

Archaeologists working in the city of Zeugma, Turkey have recently unearthed a truly amazing discovery. They found two ancient stone-cut dining rooms that makeup part of an ancient Roman household. This will help to give us insight into life in the ancient world, however, this was not the first discovery made there. 

Because of its rich history, Zeugma is a hotspot for archaeological finds; mainly ruins of the ancient city which is now mostly underwater and mosaics. Many of the mosaics found are near-perfectly preserved, as well making them even more important for archeological research.  These rooms are the newest discovery in an ongoing excavation that has been going on since 2005. This excavation is being led by Professor Kutalmış Görkay, from Ankara University. Two stone-cut chambers were discovered as part of the House of the Muses, which is a set of ruins discovered in 2007. These ruins are named after the large, very well preserved mosaic known as the Nine Muses of Greek mythology and has recently been turned into the on-site Zeugma Mosaic Museum. Other mosaics found here include stories from Greek mythology, images of Ancient Greek deities such as Oceanus and Thetys, and portraits of people who might have lived there.

According to Professor Görkay, these two new chambers may have been used as dining rooms during different seasons. “[They were] designed as summer and winter dining rooms,” he explained in an interview. Although the rooms look very similar there is evidence they were built for different uses. Görkay says, “The eastern rock-cut room is more spacious and has a flat ceiling.” The newly discovered western room is also close to an oecus, a large hall or salon, which has a vaulted ceiling made of Roman concrete and bricks.

Today these rooms look quite different from what they did 2,000 years ago. While now they may be bare stone, when they were constructed they would have been much more nicely decorated. “Both rock-cut chambers do not have mosaics, however, their floors were probably paved with figural [designs],” Görkay added. The home would have belonged to an upper-middle-class family, which would have hosted social gatherings in these rooms year-round. The design of these rooms would have made this much easier as it allowed for easy indoor-outdoor access. Professor Görkay’s team of archaeologists have excavated over 50 feet of soil that had buried the two new rooms. Their work will continue throughout this year and are planning preservation efforts to avoid collapse, as the team has found that one of the chambers has dangerous cracks in the ceiling.

The onsite museum will be reopened to visitors as soon as Görkay and his team are completed with the restoration and conservation work. Zeugma will most likely produce even more amazing finds in the future as archaeologists uncover more ruins of the ancient city.