A Tale of Two Cities

Article excerpt

Rolex Associate Laureate Catherine Abadie-Reynal is racing to map the ancient cities of Zeugma and Apameia before they sink beneath the waters of a reservoir

Zeugma is Greek for bridge or link, and the city of that name that stood on the right bank of the Euphrates was the crossing point into Mesopotamia 2,300 years ago. The town was an important bishopric during the Byzantine period, and later became a principal legionary fortress on the Eastern frontier of the Roman empire. Archaeologists located the site in 1917 and the first real excavations began in 1992. The project was abandoned through lack of money, but a report on the site fell into the hands of Professor Catherine Abadie-Reynal, then assistant director of the French Institute of Anatolian Studies in Istanbul. She is now leading an effort by French and Turkish archaeologists to gather information about the site, but time is running out. Later this year, the sites of Zeugma and its twin city, Apameia, will be flooded as part of Turkey's hydroelectric programme.

When Abadie-Reynal learned of the historic site and what was going to happen to it, she began talking with Turkish and French colleagues. "We decided to gather and save as many documents as possible about this area by creating archives, especially photographic archives, and setting up a team of specialists working with the most up-to-date methods in field archaeology: magnetic surveys, geomorphological studies, satellite imagery," she says.

At the end 1994, she approached the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs with a request to finance an assessment expedition. …