Gaziantep province is geographically on and at the crossing point of the cultural, military and commercial roads between Syria, Anatolia and east-west. In Gaziantep province, which has seen many various cultures in the history, there are more than 250 tumuli. Some of the most ancient findings of Anatolia are the stone tools found in Dülük cave. The history of these tools goes back to 600 thousand years ago, to the Paleolithic Period. The region has the traces of the Hurri, Hittite, Persian, Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Islamic Civilizations. More than 30 archaeological excavations have been made in the region. Gaziantep Museum owes most of its opuses to these excavations. There are more than 65 thousand works in the museum.
The museums connected to the Gaziantep Museum Directorate are: the Archaeology Museum, the Ethnography Museum and the Yesemek Open Air Museum in İslahiye District. Furthermore, there are 693 immovable cultural assets and 221 site areas in a single building basis under the control of the Museum Directorate. The Gaziantep Museum, the core of which was formed in 1944 by gathering some works collected from the surroundings by Sabahat Göğüş, first provided its service in Nuri Mehmet Pasha Mosque then moved to the present building in 1969. Because of the potential of the region, which is very rich in terms of archaeology, the need for the enlargement of the museum has occurred. The works for the additional hall, started in 1976, still continue. There are 5 halls in the present building.
In the Gaziantep Museum, trials that can be called renovations have been made in terms of exhibition in order to save the museum from the appearance of a history warehouse and to have the audience's sympathy.
II. YESEMEK SCULPTURE WORKSHOP AND OPEN AIR MUSEUM
It is located in Yesemek Village of İslahiye District of Gaziantep. There is a basalt quarry on a hill named as Karatepe and a sculpture workshop on the slopes of this hill. This place has been first seen and introduced to the science world by Felix von Luschan performing excavation in Zincirli Tumulus on behalf of the German Eastern Researches Institution. Excavation and research were performed in this place by Prof. Dr. Bahadır Alkım between the years 1958 - 1961 and a scientific publication was issued.
In the second half of the second thousand BC, after the region had been dominated by Hittites, this quarry started its operation and provided a new function for the Hittite. It is known that Hurri masters and artisans worked here as well as the Hittite masters. In the workshop, the activity of which had decelerated during a short period, the works became intense again starting from the 9th century BC in the period of Late Hittite Kingdoms and in this second period, especially Arami and Asyrrian art gained importance. Like the other front Asia artistic elements, the artistic method dominant in this region had also an impact on the Aegean cultures which became known as an "oriantilisan method" and started to develop in the west right after the artistic method. The oriantilisan method constituted the core of Greek art that reached its acme during the Classical Period.
The technical operation of the workshop is known. After the surface rock was smoothed and the block borders were determined, regular holes or canals were opened there and dry woods were hammered into these holes and canals. The woods, which expanded as the result of wetness, cracked the rock block and took it out of its place. The basalt blocks obtained were taken to the working area on the slope via wooden sledges and the masters cut the block roughly in accordance with the order taken and prepared a draft. The fine works of these drafts were made at the locations they were transported to in order to prevent any damage they could be subject to during the transportation. The only sample found in relation with this process is the sphinx found in Zincirli and being exhibited in the Gaziantep Museum. It is possible to follow all stages of the draft workmanship in this quarry and workshop, which are understood to be operated with a great organization under state control. Everything has stayed as it was as if the time has frozen in this workshop, whose activity is known to be stopped by the Asyrrian and whose masters are taken to Asyrria. It is as if the lunch time will end in a minute and the masters and artisans will return to their works with a beginning whistle. In the area, which is arranged with the works carried out by the Gaziantep Museum, more than 200 sculptures are being exhibited. Sphinxes, door lions, sitting lions, winged lions, reliefs of mountain god representing the Amanos Mountains, reliefs of war scenes and architectural parts are exhibited in their natural environment.
The quarry and the workshop, whose activity continued for almost 500 years, are important in terms of their being the unique samples that have survived until today.
Provisional Exhibition and Nostalgia Showcases
The exhibition, which is generally provisional or reflecting varying subjects, is organised in the narrow, long hall at the entrance. A caricature exhibition under the topic "Archaeology" is arranged in order to draw the attention of people interested in painting and caricatures. Two showcases under the topic "Medical Instruments in the Archaic Period" are organised for people interested in medicine, pharmacy, chemistry, and cosmetics. A panel called "News from Other Museums and Archaeological Studies" and three block panels with pictures introducing the ruin places are also displayed. Another important section in this hall is the "Nostalgia Showcases". Here, the first photographs taken on a copper plate in 1864 and a collection of cameras and accessories consisting of 120 parts, called "Historical Development of Cameras", starting from the models of 1910 until today models are exhibited for the first time in the museums of our country. Furthermore, the exhibition named "From Past to today with postcards" shows various scenes from the cities of our country as well as from the world belonging to the beginning of this century; it also shows old radios, gramophones, telephones, typewriters, an armed sewing machine, old watches and similar goods.
In this hall, the archaic residence locations and excavation centres in Anatolia and Gaziantep are introduced with the maps on large panels and the chronology of Gaziantep region is provided. The exhibition begins with the natural history showcase in the first section and continues with the showcases in which Palaeolithic stone tools and didactic materials relating to their use are exhibited.The exhibition reflecting various stages of the Calcolithic and Bronze Periods end with the showcases special to a civilization in the Iron Period - Urartu. In the second part, showcases introducing sections from the Akamenid-Persian, Hellenistic and Commagene and especially Roman Period are located. This section ends with the exhibition of ornamented doors belonging to the Byzantine and Islamic periods and various candles. Furthermore, in this hall "Belkıs / Zeugma Excavations" and "Toys for Eras" showcases are located. The bones of a mammoth skeleton and a filled crocodile are exhibited here.
Belkıs / Zeugma Hall
In the narrow, long hall in the form of a corridor, sculptures and reliefs obtained from Belkıs excavations and reflecting especially the grave sculpturing and mosaic panels are exhibited. Grave sculpturing consisting of the sculptures and reliefs placed in the terraces and corridors in front of the grave rooms, is a characteristic of Zeugma necropolis.
Hall of Coins and Small Finds
In this hall, which is newly arranged, small bronze human and animal sculptures, cult goods, figurines, stamps and cylindrical seals, ornamental needles, bracelets, torqs, fibulas, ring stones, Classical Period clay seal stamps, golden and silver ornamental goods are exhibited on one side demonstrating a modern museum understanding. On the other side, information panels showing the features of the coins that are determined in accordance with the minting and periods of the coins and their values in time are placed and golden, silver and bronze coins and Ottoman Period medals are introduced to the audience.
In the two old wooden showcases in the corridor connecting Belkıs Hall and exhibition hall, "Toys in Old Gaziantep" are exhibited, which has been made by old masters in compliance with the originals by the researcher, Akten Köylüoğlu and presented to the museum.
In this hall, there is an exhibition consisting of drawings - pictures named "Story of Establishment in a City in the Roman Period" that is presented to the audience with 60 panels for the first time in our country. Furthermore, small dimensioned copies of large photographs named "Turkish Architectural Works", "Our Archaeological Culture Assets" and "Plundered Anatolia", which have been prepared by the Ministry of Culture and sent to many countries for introduction purposes, are exhibited. On the other hand, the exhibition consisting of Turkish - English articles and pictures, named "Atatürk and Museums" is presented to the interests of the audience in a separate corner due to the 75th year of our republic.
In the front garden of the museum, steles having reliefs made of basalt depicting the Hittite and Late Hittite Period funeral banquets are located; in the side garden, grave stones of Belkıs / Zeugma roots, with eagle motif representing the Roman Period man and wool basket motif representing the woman are located. Furthermore, four Roman Period sarcophagi ornament the garden.
When the new building is completed, especially the exhibition in the garden will completely change. In brand new mosaic and sculpture halls; in four large halls that will be arranged with the name "Gaziantep Culture", hand arts of Gaziantep, craftsmen bazaar, home and mansion life, Barak culture, life stories and works, famous persons from Gaziantep will be presented to the visitor in oral, written and documented ways in modern museum understanding.