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Seleucus I Nicator (301-281 B.C.) founded the town on the W bank of the Euphrates NE of Aleppo. It owes its name to the ancient bridge of boats, replaced under Trajan by a stone bridge, which joined Commagene and Mesopotamia. An inscription gives its official name: Seleucia on the Euphrates. On the frontier between the Roman Empire and the Parthian, then Sasanian Empire, the position had great strategic and commercial importance. Justinian enclosed Zeugma in high, wide walls. The Moslems took it in A.D. 637.

The ancient city occupied the terrace of the modern village and extended over the hills to the W. The acropolis was a conical hill, on which there is no trace of the temple depicted on a coin or of the castle where Tigranes had Queen Cleopatra Selene killed. Several necropoleis have been found in the vicinity, also fine mosaic pavements. One depicts the Labors of Hercules, another an emperor surrounded by personifications of the provinces of the Empire (the medallions are now dispersed among several museums, especially those in Berlin and Leningrad). A rocky spur N of the village is cut by a Roman road, which then follows the Euphrates on a narrow ledge. Farther upstream, a double wall, the remains of an access road, probably marks the location of the bridge.


F. Cumont, Etudes syriennes (1917).


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