"The 2000 Excavations at
The twin cities of Zeugma,
and Apamea, straddled the
, the former located on the Syrian side of the river, and the latter on
the eastern, or Mesopotamian shore.
Founded by Seleucus I around 300 BC and named for himself and his
Persian wife, they were united by a bridge, the only permanent crossing
. The importance of this
bridge, bonding east to west, can be recognized in the fact that the two
cities eventually became known as Zeugma, or “
.” Surrounded by water and
rich fields, and controlling the crossing of a mighty river, Zeugma
became one of the more significant urban centers of the Seleucid Empire.
Falling briefly under the control of the small
in the 1st century BC, the twin cities became part of the
, early in the 1st century AD.
As a Roman outpost, Zeugma hosted one of the Syrian legions,
Legio IIII Scythica, and the influx of soldiers as well as 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
invasion led by Shapur I, and nearly every quarter of Zeugma was
destroyed by fire. Although
portions of Zeugma were rebuilt, the late Roman settlement was a shadow
of its former greatness. Subject
to further invasions from the east throughout the fifth and sixth
centuries, Zeugma fell to Islam in the seventh century, although it
maintained a bishopric as late as 1048.
Late in the 20th
century, in order to improve the socio-economic climate of the
, the Birecik Dam was constructed over the
, just downstream from Zeugma. The
resulting artificial lake completely flooded Apamea, while approximately
was inundated. As the flood
waters rose over
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 overview of the Zeugma excavations,
concentrating on the remains from the private sector of the settlement.