Hatay Museum of Archeology
The Second Biggest Mosaic Museum of The World in Antakya / Hatay / Turkey.
The archeological research in Hatay has launched in 1932 under the supervision of the Louvre Museum, Baltimore Art Museum, Worchester Art Museum, and Princeton University. In 1936, the representatives Fogg Art Museum of the Harvard University and Dumbarton Oaks College joined the committee. Upon the request of the French Inspector of Syrian Antiquities, M. Prost, it was decided to establish a museum in order to bring together all of the items unearthed in the Sanjak. The museum plan was developed by M. Misel Eceser within the modern museum context. The characteristics of unearthed items were taken into consideration when the museum plan was improved. The construction was started in 1934 and completed in 1939.
Howard Crosby Buther from Princeton University had the excavations started. The excavations were carried out by the team of Charles Rufus Morey, Jean Lassus (archeeologist) and William Campbell. This team brought to light most of the mosaics which are on display today.
The Museum of Archeology houses some of the artifacts unearthed in the excavations carried out in Tell Cüdeyde, Tll Dahap, Catalhoyuk, Tell Taniat and Tel el Sheyik Mounds by the Chicago Oriental Institute between 1933 and 1939. Others were uncovered in El Mina location of Samandag Sistirict by Sir Leonard Wolley from the British Museum between 1937 and 1948. The excavations came to an end due to the World War II.
Excavated items had been kept in stores until 1939. Following the incorporation of Hatay into the borders of Turkey, the items were arranged in 9 years and the Museum of Archeology was opened for visitors July 23,1948. The museum was extended by an additional building which was constructed between 1969 and 1973. After that the museum exhibits were redesigned. The museum was reopened for the public on December 18, 1974. A new hall was designed for the Sarcophagus of Sidemera in 2000.
The history of mosaic goes back to the end of 4th millennium BC. Mosaics were firstley used as decorative element on the colums embedded in the walls in a temple at the ancient city Ouruk, southern Mesepotamia. These were the pieces of cockleshells, onyx and clay in geometric shapes. Their color were black, red and white. On the other hand, mosaics decorated jewels in Egypt.
Hatay Museum of Archeology occupies an importand place in the world in terms of its mosaic collection. It plays host tı the mosaics designed between second and fifth centuries A.D. Doro Levi, who put the mosaics into the chronological order, states that the characteristics of Hellenistic mosaic art such as naturalist appoach and richness in color survived with the Eastern style in Antakya. The common scenes on the mosaics were mythological and natural elements, daily life and abstract ideas. The names of artists are not encountered on the mosaics. It is known that the artists travelled for commercial purposes in the Ancient Period. The shadowing techniques and glass mosaics reveal the efforts of the Romans in order to reach perfection in the artof mosaics.
The multicolored and figurative floor mosaics demonstrate the welfare in Antakya during the Roman Periond. Moreover, the trasition period between the Roman Period. Moreover, the transition period between the Roman and Byzantine Empires can be observed through the stylistic and iconographic aspects of the mosaics. More specifically, the changes in life style while paganism was replaced by Christianity can be caughe in the mosaics.
Mosaic of Okeanos Tethys
Mosaic of Okeanos Tethys, which was found in Harbiye, dates back to the 4th century A.D. The Sea God Okeanos was one of the 12 Titan children of Gaia (Mother Earth) while Tethys is the Sea Goddess, sister of Okeanos.
Mosaic of Soteria
Unearthed in Antakya, Mosaic of Soteria is from the 5th century A.D. It was decorating the floor of a bathroom.
The Mosaic of Dancers
Unearthed in Samandag, the mosaic is from the 2nd or 3rd centuries A.D. Dancers with bells in their hands are depicted.
Mosaic of Orpheus
Found in Tarsus, Mosaic of Orpheus is from the 3rd century A.D. In the first panel, Zeus is taking Ganymedes (the most beautiful among the mortals, from the king family in Troy) by force to Olympos. In the other panel, Orpheus is playing an instrument. Orpheus is poet and the founder of Orphism.
Unearthed is Antakya, the mosaic is from the 2nd century A.D. It details Heracles strangling two boas.
Mosaic of Eros and Psyche
Unearthed in Samandag, the mosaic is from the 3rh century A.D. It depicts Eros sleeping under the tree which he has hung his arrows on. On the other hand, Psyche carrying a bow is reaching for the arrows slowly.
Mosaic of the Seasons
Unearted in Harbiye, Mosaic of Seasons belongs to the 2nd century A.D. It details nine scenes. Bellerophon-Stheneboia (between summer and autumn) Paris – Helena (between autmn and winter). Hippolytos – Phedra (between winter, spring and summer). Kalidon (Atalanta – Meleagros) (between spring and summer). At the centre are Iason, Medeia and Assyrtos.
Mosaic of Apollo and Daphne
Found in Daphne (Harbiye), Mosaic of Apollo and Daphne belongs to the 3rd century A.D. Daphne is the daugher of Thessalia River, Peneus. Apollo is the son of Leto and Zeus. The mosaic details the nymph, Daphne, who was changed into a laurel tree by her father, river god while she is escaping from Apollo according to the classical mythology.
Found in Harbiye, it belong to the 5th century A.D. The Great Spirit (Magalopsykhia) and mythological figures named as Akteo, Hippolytos and Meleagros hunting around the Spirit are depicted in the middle part. On the edges, human and building figures (merchants, tracellers, stadium, bath…etc.) which reflect the daily life in Antakya are detailed.
History of Hatay (Antakya)
The first settlement in Hatay dates back to the Middle Paleolithic Period. Çevlik in Hatay-Samandag and Senkoy caves in the village of Meydan were the sites first settled. Dortyol-Kinet Mound was Neolithic settlement while the Amik Plain was inhabited in the Chalcolithic (5500BC) (Tell Kurdu Mound) and Bronze Ages. The region was dominated by the Akkadians in 3000BC. Then , it became under the sovereignty of the Yamhat Kingdom with Aleppo. Yarim-Lim administration was ended in the second half of the 18th century BC and the Hittite King Mursili I invaded the region in 1595 BC. Atcana region handed back and forth between the Egyptians, Mitannis and Hittites in the 15th century BC.
Niqmepa ascended to the thore with the suport of Egyptian Tutmosis III, then, however, the region become again under the rule of Mitannis. In 1370 Hittite King Suppiluliuma regained the control of the region. The flow of information about the history of region had been between 1200 and 900 B.C.