I am posting a lot of pictures this week, I realize. What can I say? There are lots of pretty things in the world right now, and I could use some. it's a long week. Anyway, let me share something else that is very pretty: archaeologists at the ancient Hellenic City of Zeugma in Turkey have revealed stunning mosaics that went straight to my heart when I first saw them.

The ancient city of Zeugma was originally founded as a Greek settlement by Seleucus I Nicator, one of the generals of Alexander the Great, in 300 BC. The population of the city at its peak was approximately 80,000 inhabitants. Zeugma is 80 percent underwater, after it was flooded with the waters of a nearby artificial lake. The mosaics, which were recovered in excellent condition, belong to the 2nd century B.C.

The first mosaic depicts the nine Muses in portraits. This mosaic was originally in a large room of a house that archaeologists have named 'House of Muses'. In the center of the mosaic is Muse Calliope and she is surrounded by her sisters.

The second mosaic depicts Ocean and Tithys. What is really striking about this mosaic is the wonderful and vivid colors used as well as the beauty of the heroes’ faces. Experts say that special glass mosaic pieces have been created for this mosaic alone.

I was unable to locate an image of the third mosaic, but it depicts an unidentified young man. It was also revealed to be in very good condition.

Zeugma was founded by Seleucus Nicator I, one of Alexander the Great’s commanding generals. It is situated at one of the easiest fording places on the Euphrates. Hence its name, ‘Zeugma’, which means ‘bridgehead’ or ‘crossing place’. Thanks to its strategic situation on an east-west axis, it quickly grew and developed, becoming one of the four major cities of the Commagene Kingdom founded in the 1st century B.C. in the post-Hellenistic period.

When the region came under Roman hegemony, one of the empire’s thirty legions was stationed here, the 4th Scythian. Its presence fuelled trade, trade in turn brought wealth, and when that wealth attracted artists, Zeugma became a metropolis of 70.000 people. On the banks of the Euphrates merchants built villas with a perfect view of the sunset. In the courtyards of those villas they added refreshing, mosaic-paved pools. With their mosaics depicting Poseidon, Okeanos, Tethys and the river gods, these villas on the banks of the Euphrates transformed Zeugma into a virtual fine arts museum. Swelling shortly to twice the size of London and three times that of Pompeii, the city rivalled the Athens of its day.

Many beautiful mosaics have been discovered at Zeugma, and many of those can be viewed online and in person at the Zeugma Mosaic Museum. The museum is located in the town of Gaziantep, Turkey, and it is the biggest mosaic museum on the world, containing 1700m2 of mosaics. You can see a slideshow of some of them here.