Collecting Stone at the Euphrates river

A special post needs to be written about the collection of lime stones at the banks of the Euphrates.

During all the days in Gaziantep and in Nusret’s atelier we were discussing the material for the background of the mosaic. It should be of a beige or cream color. I wanted to use the marble that we are also using for our kitchen floor in the  Ayvalik house in order to have continuity in color and material. But Nusret really dislikes the structure of the marble and keeps telling me that there is a beautiful lime stone at the bank of the Euphrates river that would be excellent material for the background.

I can not decide for a long time. Partly I feel Nusret is right, the marble crumbles quite a lot. But I have it in the Atelier, waiting to be cut – so easy.
On the other hand it is also very attractive to go out and find stone – and even more to find it at the place where maybe the stone for the original mosaic also has come from!!! So at last, 4 days before I have to leave Gaziantep, I finally take the decision to go and collect THE LIMESTONE.

So we plan a trip to Belkis Dam and also have a BBQ at the Zeugma excavation site. On Saturday Aug 15 we are leaving Gaziantep in the morning  with tools and meat  and Ayse joins us with a beautiful salad made out of green lentils.

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And it becomes a memorable day.
We are searching very near the dam. On the sandy road we pass the new Belkis village which was built as compensation for the flooded village where Nusret comes from.
In the rocks at the bank of the river Nusret is feverishly looking for the right stone, climbing along the edge of the water and moving impossibly heavy stones up the steep cliff. I am very much afraid he will loose his balance and fall but he develops an incredible strength and liveliness.

With a pointy hammer he tests if the rocks are suitable for breaking them into small tesserae. It is not that difficult to see if one cuts off a little bit. One can see it by the texture of the stone and how it behaves when it is cut.

We return to the excavation house with about 10 beautiful beige rocks.

After a nice BBQ with some members of the excavation under the straw roofs of the excavation house we come home around midnight  with about 50kg of beige lime stone like in the original mosaic and from the ground where the original tesserae might have come from 2000 years ago!

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