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ISTANBUL - Many artifacts unearthed during digs in Hatay, which has been home to many civilizations throughout history, that are not on display at the city's archeology museum due to space constraints may find a place at a new museum to be built in the district of Maşuklu in Hatay.
With many pieces awaiting the light of day in the warehouse of the Hatay Archeology Museum, a possible solution appears to be on the way, as the foundations for a new museum in Maşuklu are to be put down this coming May. The new museum is to have the capacity to host 800 people at a time and 10,700 square meters of exhibition space.
Visitors who come to the Hatay museum can see around 906 square meters of mosaics at this point, though around 300 square meters are still in the museum's warehouse due to space shortages. In fact, the museum's total holdings include 35,433 pieces, but only 1,425 of these are on display due to serious space problems.
With pieces from the Hittite, Hellenic, Byzantine and Roman eras on display, the Hatay Archeologicy Museum was always known as the second most significant mosaic museum in the world, following Tunisia's Bardo Museum. That is, until last week, when the Gaziantep Zeugma Mosaic Museum opened, and the Hatay Archeologicy Museum dropped to third place for mosaics.
The most popular mosaics at the museum are those of Oceanus and Tethys, Thalassa and the Seasons. The Oceanus and Tethys mosaic was made in the fourth century and unearthed during digs in the city of Harbiye. It is considered to be one of the most significant mosaics exhibited. It depicts the sea god Oceanus, one of the 12 children of Gaia, and his sister Tethys, a goddess of the sea. Visitors can admire the various sea creatures depicted in this mosaic, as well as the motif of Eros riding a dolphin in the corner of the mosaic.
The Thalassa mosaic is another popular favorite at the Hatay museum. From the fifth century, it shows a naked Thalassa -- a primordial sea goddess known also as the personification of the Mediterranean Sea -- with a paddle in her right hand and a dolphin in her left.
The Seasons mosaic is a piece from the second century, the Roman era. It is composed of nine different scenes separated from one another by spiral shapes. There are people representing the four different seasons in the four corners of the mosaic and scenes from Hellenic mythology in the other sections.
The Hatay museum also has the Soteria Mosaic, a fifth-century Greco-Roman mosaic found in Antakya's Narlıca. Soteria, a goddess of safety and protection, is depicted as a woman with very rounded lines, a leafy crown on her head and a Byzantine-style necklace resting on her chest.
There is also the fourth-century Drunken Dionysus Mosaic, thought to have originally been part of a villa's décor. Known also as Bacchus by the Romans, Dionysus was a god of wine, and is shown in this mosaic to be too drunk to stand up properly.
The Antakya Lahdi (Antakya sarcophagus) is also on display in Hatay. A Sidemara-type sarcophagus, this special box is 247 centimeters long, and 122 centimeters wide and tall. When first found, the skeletons of three adults were in this sarcophagus, which is thought to date from the third century.
When archeological digs began to reveal pieces of great historical importance in 1932, Hatay city officials ordered the creation of a museum to house the rapidly growing number of significant finds.
Construction on the Hatay Archeology Museum thus began and was completed in 1939. When the city joined the Turkish Republic, the museum still had many archeological finds stored in the warehouse. These pieces took a full nine years to sort out and categorize, which is why the museum did not open up to visitors until July 23, 1948 during independence celebrations for Hatay.
When it became clear that the museum building would be insufficient for the constantly increasing number of local artifacts, construction to build more display space for the museum began in 1974, bringing the number of exhibition halls up from five to eight.
Courtesy Today’s Zaman
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“Treasure – If it’s out there, we’re going to find it!” (Tommy Vawter)
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