Turkey has started work on a reproduction of the famous "Gypsy Girl" mosaic, parts of which was recently brought back from the U.S.
The 12 pieces of the mosaic will be made faithful to the original unearthed in southeastern Turkey's Gaziantep. The reproduction will use stones from the region before it will be sent to the Bowling Green State University, where the original work was on display for over five decades.
The Gaziantep Metropolitan Municipality Mosaic Education Center Coordinator and mosaic artist Gülçin Sökücü and her team recently collected stones on the banks of the Euphrates, because of its proximity to the Belkıs neighborhood, the original location of the Gypsy Girl.
"We want the reproduction to be as close as possible to the original," Sökücü told Anadolu Agency (AA). "It will be sent to the U.S. as part of the agreement," she said.
The team recently collected stones on the banks of the Euphrates, because of its proximity to the Belk›s neighborhood, the original location of the Gypsy Girl.
"We collected samples from the excavation site in Belkıs. It is very close to the Euphrates. So, the stones we collected from its banks will be very similar to the ones used in the original mosaic. We will mix the mortar with the dust of these stone to make the reproduction more accurate," she said.
'This work requires a lot of information and effort'
Sökücü said that the reproduction requires a lot of information and effort. "We need to collect so many stones because the original has a very rich color chart. We want it to be exactly the same. We collected stones from the banks of the Euphrates to make sure the reproduction is very accurate. We will determine the exact size and dimensions of the work by scanning the original. Then we will prepare a color chart for the mortar. We will work with the excavation and restoration team to make sure the underlying textures are also accurate. We think it will take about six months because it is not like turning an eroded mosaic into a new one. We even have to reproduce some of the eroded parts," said Sökücü.
Gypsy Girl on display in U.S. for 53 years
The Gypsy Girl mosaic was smuggled to the U.S. in the 1960s following illegal excavations at the Zeugma Archaeological Site on the banks of the Euphrates River, close to the Belkıs neighborhood, which is 10 kilometers away from Nizip district.
Bowling Green State University in Ohio bought the mosaics for $35,000 from art dealer Peter Marks in 1965. They were on display at the university's Wolfe Center for the Arts since that time.
Efforts to bring back the lost artwork to Turkey began five months ago between the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and Bowling Green State University. The pieces were finally brought back to Gaziantep onboard a Turkish Airlines flight on Nov. 28. It was put on display at the Zeugma Mosaic Museum on Dec. 8.