Sinking Treasures

Controlling a strategic juncture where the Silk Route crossed the Euphrates River, the city of Zeugma was one of the Roman Empire's easternmost outposts--until it was torched by Persian invaders in A.D. 252. But like the eruption that buried Pompeii two centuries earlier, the fire preserved a trove of mosaics, statuary and villas. Now Zeugma faces destruction again, this time from rising floodwaters of a hydroelectric project. "It is a wall-to-wall carpet of mosaics, richer and more important than Pompeii," laments archaeologist Mehmet Onal. For a brief moment last week, Turkish officials hinted that the ruins might get a temporary reprieve,...

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