In my previous post, I explored the history of the ancient Roman town of Zeugma. In this and the next post, I will explore the beautiful museum containing the mosaics and objects saved from the floodwaters. The Zeugma Mosaic Museum, in the town of Gaziantep, Turkey, is the biggest mosaic museum on the world, containing 1700 square meters of mosaics . It opened to the public on 9 September 2011. 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. 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. The Poseidon and Euphrates Villas, known as the twin villas, have been faithfully recreated with the original mosaics, wall frescoes, fountains, columns and walls placed in their former positions, giving us a profile of a scene from 2000 years ago.
Benvenuto Cellini was one of the enigmatic, larger-than-life figures of the Italian Renaissance: a celebrated sculptor, goldsmith, author and soldier, but also a hooligan and even avenging killer. Much of Cellini's notoriety, and perhaps even fame, derives from his memoirs, begun in 1558 and abandoned in 1562, which were published posthumously under the title “The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini”. As noted by one biographer, “His amours and hatreds, his passions and delights, his love of the sumptuous and the exquisite in art, his self-applause and self-assertion, make this one of the most singular and fascinating books in existence.” He confessed to three murders and was several times imprisoned, in one instance breaking out of the Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome by climbing down a homemade rope of knotted bedsheets.