BACK HOME AGAIN, ICONIC ‘GYPSY GIRL’ AWAITS VISITORS

Daily Sabah (Turkey) - - Front Page -

RIGHT af­ter its pieces were re­turned by Ohio’s Bowl­ing Green State Univer­sity to Tur­key, the iconic ‘Gypsy Girl’ mosaic dis­cov­ered in the an­cient city of Zeugma is now ready for visitors in a tem­po­rary pub­lic ex­hibit in Gaziantep as of Satur­day

THE FAMOUS “Gypsy Girl” mosaic is fi­nally com­plete af­ter its miss­ing pieces were re­trieved from the United States decades af­ter they were smug­gled abroad. Now Tur­key is set to dis­play the newly ar­rived mosaic pieces on Satur­day for visitors.

The mosaic will be on dis­play in a tem­po­rary pub­lic ex­hibit in Gaziantep, the south­ern Turk­ish prov­ince where it was dis­cov­ered in the an­cient city of Zeugma.

Af­ter the ex­hi­bi­tion, they will be re­stored to their orig­i­nal place among the larger mosaic.

The 12 stolen pieces of the mosaic, one of the most famous ar­ti­facts un­earthed in Zeugma, ar­rived in Tur­key aboard a Turk­ish Air­lines flight late Novem­ber.

Bowl­ing Green State Univer­sity in Ohio had agreed to re­turn the pieces decades af­ter they ended up in the univer- sity’s pos­ses­sion af­ter un­known smug­glers took the pieces out of Tur­key. The pieces were on dis­play at the Wolfe Cen­ter for the Arts at the univer­sity, where they were dis­played un­der a glass panel on the floor at the en­trance of the cen­ter.

The pieces were handed over to Turk­ish of­fi­cials early Novem­ber at a for­mal cer­e­mony, a year af­ter Gaziantep mu­nic­i­pal­ity and Min­istry of Cul­ture and Tourism started ne­go­ti­at­ing their re­turn with univer­sity of­fi­cials.

The mosaic pieces were smug­gled in the 1960s, a time when smug­gling from ex­ca­va­tions was not tightly mon­i­tored. The pieces were pur­chased by Bowl­ing Green Univer­sity in 1965.

The other re­main­ing parts of the Gypsy Girl mosaic - named such as the fig­ure re­sem­bles a young gypsy girl, al­though de­bate on her (or his) ex­act iden­tity is not set­tled yet - was dis­cov­ered in 1998 in Zeugma which is lo­cated in present-day Gaziantep’s Nizip dis­trict.

Zeugma is home to Ro­man houses, be­lieved to be­long to no­bles, dat­ing back to the 2nd and 3rd B.C. Most were adorned with beau­ti­ful mo­saics cur­rently on dis­play at the mosaic mu­seum.

Turk­ish ar­chae­ol­o­gists say that the up­per and cen­tral part of the mosaic, the only parts not smug­gled, were un­der a bro­ken col­umn found in the ru­ins, ap­par­ently un­de­tected by smug­glers. The mosaic was on the floor of a din­ing room of a Ro­man villa and cap­ti­vated many visitors for its bright de­pic­tion of the wide-eyed “Gypsy Girl” with di­sheveled hair and ear­rings. Since its dis­cov­ery, it be­came a sym­bol of Gaziantep, a city bor­der­ing Syria which is also known as for its tra­di­tional baklava dessert and rich cui­sine.

Stephanie Lan­gin-Hooper, an art his­to­rian at South­ern Methodist Univer­sity, is cred­ited for dis­cov­er­ing the link be­tween the pieces on dis­play at the Ohio Univer­sity and an­cient city of Zeugma. Her re­search in 2012 helped Tur­key re­claim its own­er­ship of the pieces, which were sold to Bowl­ing Green Univer­sity for $35,000.

Since 2003, the Min­istry of Cul­ture and Tourism has ob­tained 4,311 ar­ti­facts that were il­le­gally ex­ported from Tur­key and is cur­rently track­ing down an­other 55 pieces in 17 coun­tries.

Many ar­ti­facts un­cov­ered in Tur­key are dis­played in var­i­ous famous mu­se­ums through­out the world even though they were il­le­gally smug­gled out of the coun­try. Le­gal pro­ce­dures to re­trieve these ar­ti­facts take a long time. Most re­cently, Tur­key re­trieved a statue of Her­a­cles from Switzer­land.

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