While being often relegated to the side-notes of history, the Kingdom of Osroene (also known as Edessa) was one of the crucial successor states to the Seleucid Empire, formed by a nomadic group of Nabatean tribal origin. Occupying the slice of land encompassing the border areas of present-day Syria and Turkey, the kingdom held its own for almost three centuries (132 BC – 114 AD), before being absorbed ‘under the umbrella’ of the Roman Empire as a semi-autonomous realm (and finally de-established in 244 AD). And now archaeologists have come across one of the artistic legacies left behind by this ancient state, in the form of an exquisite floor mosaic. Featuring rare Syriac inscriptions along with intricate engravings, the mosaic was located by the historic Balikli Lake (Balikli Gol), in the Turkish southeastern province of Şanlıurfa (Edessa).
The archaeological site in question here boasts an area of over 4.5 hectares. Over a period of six years, state-sponsored excavation projects have already been successful in unearthing (and restoring) over 80 rock-cut graves from the Roman era, complemented by at least 5 floor mosaics. This is what Şanlıurfa Mayor Nihat Çiftçi had to say about the importance of the discoveries (to Hurriyet Daily News) –
The Roman-era graves have been cleaned within the scope of the excavations. During these works, we found very important mosaics; the mosaics from the Osroene period were engraved at the bottom of rock tombs. This shows the richness of Şanlıurfa. Also, especially at the entrance gates of the graveyards, there are finds featuring the culture of ancient civilizations. Archaeologists are carefully working in the area. All of the artifacts found here will be displayed at the rock tombs. In this way, tourists and locals will be able to see them. We know that Şanlıurfa has a rich cultural history, so we find artifacts from almost every period. We will reveal this richness and believe that it will make a great contribution to tourism. We will restore these venues and open them to tourism.
This latest find still has to undergo restorative procedures, and is finally expected to be exhibited at the local museum. And since the mayor has brought up the notion of fusing history with tourism; in a separate project, Turkish officials will also embark on an ambitious endeavor of structurally reconstructing an entire Hittite village, which would serve as a focal point for visitors to the famed Bronze Age site of Hattusha (in Central Turkey).