Gaziantep Yesemek Archaeological Site
Yesemek was the largest quarry and sculpture workshop in the Near East between the fourth quarter of the II millennium B.C and the 8th century B.C. It is located on the Karatepe ridge of Yesemek Village, 22 km southeast of the Islahiye district. The workshop, where the local people Hurrians worked, was put into operation during the reign of Emperor Šuppiluliuma I, between 1375-1335 B.C, when the region came under the Hittite rule. In the workshop, whose activity weakened for a while, the work intensified again during the Late Hittite Kingdoms.
In the new period, especially Hittite, Syrian, Aramaic, and Assyrian art elements gained importance. This style, known as orientalism, formed the core of Greek art by influencing the Aegean cultures that started to develop in the west. In the workshop, which is known to have been terminated by the Assyrians in the last quarter of the 8th century B.C, and the masters were taken to Assyria, everything remained as it was, and time seemed frozen until 1890. In the Open Air Museum, where more than 300 sketches of sculptures are unearthed and exhibited in a certain order, the majority of the sketches are door lions. The area, where sphinxes, door lions, sitting lions, winged lions, Mountain God reliefs representing the Amanos Mountains, war scene reliefs, and architectural pieces are exhibited in their natural environment, has been turned into an Open Air Museum by the Gaziantep Museum Directorate after landscaping.
As a result, Yesemek Stone Quarry and Sculpture Workshop, which is understood to be operated by a large organization, is a sculpture school that is unique in the world, where the stages from cutting the stones from the quarry to the preparation and completion of the sculpture sketches can be seen with examples. At that time, it was not possible to reach the workshop covering such a large area and the number of sculptors working in the workshop, despite the technological and artistic development that has taken place today. This situation shows the greatness of the importance given to art by the human communities living here at that time.