Archaeologists have uncovered a rock-hewn 'dining room' in an excavation site in Southeastern Turkey by the name of 'House of Muses,' that dates to the 2nd or 3rd century BC, when Asia Minor had been under the rule of the Romans. After initial field work began in the 1990s, the excavations in Zeugma, now modern-day Gaziantep, kicked off in 2004.
Ankara University archaeologist Kutalmis Gorkay unearthed a trio of amazingly intact mosaics estimated to date back to around 2,200 years ago soon afterwards. One mosaic, unearthed in 2014, depicted the famed Nine Muses of ancient myth, with the site being named 'The House of the Muses’ as a result.
Gorkay told the Britain’s The Daily Mail that “muses are the most important personifications of classical Greek education, especially in antiquity. In the mosaic found in this house, goddesses and personifications believed to contribute to Greek literature, history, poetry and music are depicted.”
After excavating some 50 feet of dirt on the site, Gorkay has discovered two rock chambers in the house he believes were ancient dining rooms. The rooms were adorned with elaborate mosaic floors and “show traces of the intellectual life of its owner at that time,” he added.
At its height, Zeugma had some 80,000 inhabitants but the house probably belonged to a family 'having better than the middle-class economy,' Gorkay said, with multiple courtyards where dinner parties would have been held and basins would have collected rainwater.
Strategically located near both the Taurus Mountains and Euphrates River, Zeugma was originally founded by the Greeks in 300 BC, when it was known as Seleukia on the Euphrates. One of Alexander the Great's generals, Seleucus I Nicator, built the first bridge over the Euphrates there.
In approximately 64 BC, it was conquered by the Romans, who renamed it Zeugma, after the Greek name for the 'bridge of boats' that crossed the Euphrates there.