Yesemek Quarry and Statue Workshop
Yesemek Outdoor Museum is located on a hillside facing the southeast by the village of Yesemek, which is about 23 km to Islahiye, Gaziantep. The hillside is covered with many grey and violet basalt rocks known as dolerite. Yesemek site was first spotted by Felix Von Luschan while he was excavating at Zincirli in the 1890s. The initial research and excavations were done by Prof. Bahadır Alkım in 19581961, during which about 200 rough statues were uncovered. Yesemek is the largest known sculpture workshop in the ancient Near East. Near the top of the hill, one can find the remnants of the quarry where the rocks were cut out. With excavations in 1988-1991 by İlhan Temizsoy, the number of statues exceeded 300 and more are believed to be still underground. regarding the sate of the site differing opinions have been expressed. However, upon extended surveys conducted by Atilla Engin since 2019, a date towards the end of the Hittite Empire period has been more securely established. One of the unique and important finds of the site is an inscribed human statue.
In 2005 the site was organized into an outdoor museum by the commissioning of the Gaziantep Museum. Incredibly, despite the fact that the Yesemek was nominated to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in 2017 a dam construction project was allowed to take place right next the hill, visibly causing damage to the archeological site (see last image below).
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Alkım, B. Yesemek Taşocağı ve Heykel Atölyesinde Yapılan Kazı ve Araştırmalar, Ankara, 1974.
Duru, R. Eski Önasya Dünyasının En Büyük Heykel Atölyesi Yesemek, İstanbul, 2004.
Temizsoy, İ. 1991 Yılı Yesemek Açıkhava Müzesi Kazı Raporu, III. Müze Kurtarma Seminerleri 2730 Nisan, 1992: 87101.
Ataman Hotel Photo Gallery, Abbas Ataman.
Tayfun Bilgin, 2009.
Bora Bilgin, 2009.
Ertuğrul Anıl, 2009.
Refik Duru, 2004.