In 2009, a construction crew digging the foundation for a new hotel in Antakya, Turkey, made an astonishing discovery. They uncovered a vast mosaic dating back to Roman times, along with more than 35,000 artifacts spanning some 2,300 years from at least 13 different civilizations. Construction of the hotel was immediately put on hold, while a six-month excavation took place.
The find would have dashed the hopes of any hotelier, but the Asfuroğlu group decided to embrace the challenge, integrating the archeological find into the hotel’s blueprints. Eleven years later, the 200-room Museum Hotel Antakya opened its doors.
Designed by the Turkish architect Emre Arolat, the hotel’s five floors are suspended on steel columns above the actual archeological site, where the 11,000 square feet Roman mosaic lay in-situ. The hotel’s lowest floor houses an open-air museum with glass floors and walkways providing a magnificent and unobstructed view of the mosaic and the various excavation pits. The guest rooms are stacked above this open space, hovering above the site in a stacked honeycomb structure, with glass windows directly overlooking the archaeological findings.
The city of Antakya, where the discovery was made, stands on the site of the ancient city Antioch, founded in the 4th century BC. It was the center of the Seleucid kingdom until the 1st century BC, when it was annexed by Rome and was made the capital of the Roman province of Syria. Antioch was once the third largest city of the Roman Empire in size and importance, after Rome and Alexandria, and possessed magnificent temples, theatres, aqueducts, and baths. Antioch was also one of the earliest centers of Christianity, and gained much ecclesiastical importance in the Byzantine Empire. The city changed hands several times, conquered by the Byzantine, the Seljuk, the Crusaders, the Ayyubid, the Mamluk, and eventually the Ottoman in the 16th century.
Archaeologists believe the mosaic may once have been part of a government building or a villa dating back to the 5th century. Other artifacts found inside date back to the Hellenistic Age, which began in 323 BC. In addition to the mosaic, which the largest single-floor mosaic ever found, archaeologists uncovered ruins of a Roman bath, the first intact marble statue of the Greek god Eros, and several more artifacts.
# Financial Times, https://www.ft.com/content/bedb5174-5d5b-11ea-ac5e-df00963c20e6
# Architectural Digest, https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/turkey-newest-luxury-hotel-floats-2300-year-old-ruins