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Yesemek

As the largest quarry and statue processing workshop of Turkey between 140 B.C. and 700 B.C., Yesemek is located at 22 km southeast to İslahiye district of Gaziantep

The workshop where the Hurris worked, was put into operation in the period of Hittite King Şuppiluma I in the second half of 2000 B.C. when the region fell under the domination of Hittite. The workshop that paused its activities during the migration of Sea Peoples in 1200s B.C., started to work again beginning from 900 B.C. in Late Hittite Period.

The Assyrians terminated the activities of the workshop and brought the foremen to Assur in late 700 B.C. After the craftsmen were gone, everything remained as it was in the workshop, then virtually the time stopped for Yesemek.

It is possible to watch all the stages of draft workmanship in the statue workshop that was established on 110 hectares of area. Having identified the block borders on surface rock first, regular holes or channels were opened and dry trees were nailed in such hollows. The trees enlarging by being sprinkled, used to break off the rock block by cracking it. Basalt blocks obtained were pulled down with wood sledges to the working area below, and brought to the place where statue drafts were exhibited. Elaborate workmanship of the statues was done in Hittite cities such as Zincirli and Sakçagözü where their last places to be exhibited.

Most of the draft sculptures in Open Air Museum are gate lions which were the protectors of the gates of Hittite cities. More than 300 sculptures revealed from soil are exhibited in this museum on a certain order.  Monumental sphinxes (woman-headed winged lion), bear man, war car, mountain men, hunt scenes are other important works of art in the workshop.

Yesemek Quarry and Sculpture Workshop is like a school of sculpture where you can see examples of each stage of production from extraction of stone from the quarry, to the preparation of the rough sculptures and to the final product.