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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 1958–1961, during which about 200 rough statues were uncovered. Yesemek is the largest known sculpture workshop in the ancient Near East. For the dates of site's use, different opinions have been expressed varying from the end of the Empire period to late in the Neo-Hittite period. 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.

In 1991 a statue fragment that shows the upper torso and the left arm of a male figure was found on the surface about 800 meters east of the quarry. It bears the partially preserved Hieroglyphic Luwian "Prince" (REX.FILIUS) and several "God" (DEUS) signs inscribed on its belt section. The basalt fragment is about 27 cm in height. Stylistically it stands apart from the rest of the sculptures. So far along with a small seal it is the only Hittite/Neo-Hittite period epigraphic find from around Yesemek.

In 2005 the site was organized into an outdoor museum by the commissioning of the Gaziantep Museum.

Click on the pictures for larger images.

T. Bilgin, 2009 T. Bilgin, 2009
T. Bilgin, 2009 T. Bilgin, 2009 T. Bilgin, 2009 T. Bilgin, 2009
Gate Lions
T. Bilgin, 2009
Mountain Gods
T. Bilgin, 2009 T. Bilgin, 2009
T. Bilgin, 2009 T. Bilgin, 2009 T. Bilgin, 2009 Relief of a battle chariot, 8-9th century BCE Columns base - R. Duru, 2004 Inscribed statue fragment - R. Duru, 2004 Inscribed statue fragment - R. Duru, 2012
The Quarry
T. Bilgin, 2009 T. Bilgin, 2009 T. Bilgin, 2009 T. Bilgin, 2009 T. Bilgin, 2009

Alkım, B. Yesemek Taşocağı ve Heykel Atölyesinde Yapılan Kazı ve Araştırmalar, Ankara: TTK. 1974.
Duru, R. Eski Önasya Dünyasının En Büyük Heykel Atölyesi Yesemek, İstanbul: Tursab. 2004.
Temizsoy, İ. “1991 Yılı Yesemek Açıkhava Müzesi Kazı Raporu,” III. Müze Kurtarma Seminerleri 27-30 Nisan, 1992: 87- 101.

Image sources:
Ataman Hotel Photo Gallery, Abbas Ataman.
Tayfun Bilgin, Bora Bilgin, Ertuğrul Anıl, 2009.
Refik Duru, 2004.