Archive for the ‘ Personal ’ Category

April 23, 2010 (Friday)

Izmir Morning. Before checking out and hitting the road, we think we might get in a quick visit to another museum Mark Wilson had recommended at the harbor dinner last night. We get up early to catch a 7 am breakfast and then walked to a nearby park area to try to find the museum. Unfortunately, everything is closed, and a note on one museum window said the museum had been moved to the Konak area. We realize Mark’s information is out of date, so we head back to the hotel and check out.

Sardis. Off to Sardis, another of the seven churches of Revelation. The Garmin does not help much, but we manage to find our way out of Izmir toward Sardis. We meet Jerry’s goal of making Sardis in the morning to get a lot of good morning pictures of the Marble Hall at Sardis. We were here in 2002, and not a whole lot has changed, but Jerry now has better pictures than before.

Marble Hall. Below is a schematic of the entire complex of the bathhouse, palestra (open court exercise grounds), and Jewish synagogue. Notice carefully how the synagogue, one of the largest ever discovered in the ancient world, is housed as an integral part of the Greco-Roman bathhouse complex. The Jews were incorporated fully into the Greco-Roman cultural and social world of Sardis.

You have to look carefully to see Jerry standing in the two pictures below! This Marble Hall entrance to the bathhouse complex is built on a grand scale. Very impressive in person.


In the picture below you can see what the archeologists had to reconstruct of this originally all-marble column using supplemental material. The bricks comprising the walls were really the Roman form of our 2x4s we use as the superstructure for our walls. On top of the brick support structure the Romans would overlay marble. So, you have to imagine the whole structure covered in beautiful marble, hence the popular name “Marble Hall.” The second image shows that the marble used in this construction was veined and multi-colored, so probably gorgeous when the building was completed.

The inscription in the lentil below is dedicated to the Roman emperor. The first word in the inscription is autokratoron, which is the word “emperor.” The first line begins, “Emperor and Imperial Majesty over all the inhabitants.”

The inscription below was in the pool area of the bathhouse complex. Jerry has not had time to translate, but he says he does recognize verbal forms. Jerry says inscriptions are much more difficult to translate than normal text because they incorporate dialectical peculiarities of a region and have some unique grammatical conventions of their own. Plus, as you will notice in the image below, they use all capital letters, no word divisions (sometimes continuing part of the same word on the next line), and no punctuation!

Sardis Synagogue. The Sardis synagogue is one of the largest ever discovered from the ancient world. The building could accommodate 1,000 people standing (as was the custom in ancient times). Most unusual among the items discovered at the synagogue was the “eagle altar table.” The forms of eagles make reliefs on either side of this Jewish altar table. Eagle figures were common in depictions of Roman military and Roman rule. The use of the eagles on the Jewish altar table design is most unusual and ambiguous in meaning. The table at the Sardis site is a replica. The original table is in the archeological museum in Manisa, which we will visit tomorrow. We record a good movie at the synagogue where I am the “talking head” of the movie. Be sure to catch detailed information about the Jewish synagogue at Sardis in the video link at the bottom of this post. While at the synagogue, we meet a couple from Izmir who are very friendly. We chat with them for a good while, and he gives us his business card insisting that if we visit Turkey again, we must contact them and stay with them. The Turks really are such nice people. The picture below is from the vestibule area leading into the synagogue assembly hall. Jerry liked the angle because you can see the entrance into the Marble Hall bathhouse from the middle doorway of the Jewish synagogue. Jerry thought that image was symbolic of how the synagogue was an integral part of the architecture of the entire complex of buildings in this hub of Sardis life. Beautiful marble inlays adorned the synagogue walls in the assembly hall, evocative of the marble inlays of the bathhouse.

The floors had beautiful mosaic inlays with colorful geometric patterns. Only bits and pieces outline the remain today, but if you used your imagination to fill out the picture of the outlines, you could get some idea of the expertise and craftsmanship that went into the design and construction of the synagogue.

Here is the eagle altar table replica, behind which you see a semicircular seating arrangement at one end of the long rectangle that made up the actual assembly hall. The next image shows the eagles that are in bold relief on each end of the altar table legs.

A statue of two lions back to back also was found as a part of this front area of the synagogue. Their exact meaning, significane, and use is unclear.

Inscriptions on the top portion of the walls of the synagogue at the other end opposite the altar table bear witness to Jewish benefactors and patrons, not only of the synagogue, but of the city of Sardis as well. Even one Roman procurator is among the names memorialized.

Artemis Temple. After finishing at the main Sardis site, we head over to the temple of Artemis down the road a short piece, across the highway, and up a hill. After the rise of Christianity in the Roman Empire, the temple of Artemis at Sardis fell into disuse. This temple now has only two columns left of the twelve known to have survived into modern times at the site. The ruins of the temple were used for quarry material for later construction projects. We intersect again with the couple we had met and talked to for a while earlier at the synagogue, and we chat a little more. The temple has huge columns! Find me in the second image to get an idea of the size of these columns. The third image shows the almost impregnable Sardis acropolis rising up in the background that was the famous defense of the ancient city of Sardis.

Alesehir (Philadelphia). We get back to the car and head on down the same highway to Alesehir, or ancient Philadelphia. Philadelphia is another one of the seven churches of Revelation.

Archeological Site? We arrive at the modern city of Alesehir and immediately work our way on through the downtown area. Alesehir has all kinds of traffic jams. You see one in the picture below.

We get through downtown traffic and head up the mountainside at the foot of which the modern city has developed. In going on up the steep mountainside, we are attempting to follow Mark Wilson’s directions from last night’s harbor dinner in Izmir on how to get to the acropolis excavations of ancient Philadelphia. Unfortunately, we do not find anything, even though driving a long way, and then Jerry hiking around in all directions on the steep hillside. We finally give up, and Jerry is disappointed not to find the ancient site remains. Below is a panorama of the hillside leading down to the sprawl of the modern city. The second image is a closeup of the modern city of Alesehir from the mountainside.

St. Jean Church. We went back down the mountainside into Alesehir to find the Byzantine remains of the St. Jean Church, which is the only remaining building from earlier centuries. Inside the church grounds, which are fenced and gated, we see an inscription in an area dug down below the street level in the church compound. No telling what is under all these modern streets! Very interesting that the two Byzantine columns perfectly frame a Moslem minaret—so, there’s the answer to whatever happened to ancient Philadelphia.

Manisa. After finishing at Philadelphia, we backtrack most of the way down the highway we had come from Izmir this morning in order to get to Manisa, which is ancient Magnesia.

Anemon Hotel. We are hitting Manisa because this city has a museum that Jerry did not know about on our first trip in 2002, so he wanted to get in a visit with this museum. The Manisa museum has a good bit of material from the excavations at Sardis, including the original of the famous eagle altar table from the synagogue, as well as from other sites in the area, such as Laodicea, Philadelphia, Thyatira, and Pergamum. Our reservations are at another Anemon property like we stayed in Izmir with accommodations secured by our travel agent and friend, Levent, who treated us to our wonderful harbor dinner in Izmir last night. For once in a blue moon, the Garmin actually finds the hotel for us! Yea! The Anemon hotel at Manisa is very nice, and this time, the air conditioner is working. Yea again! We checked in and actually relaxed a while, setting up Jerry’s nightly charging station and watching BBC news on TV. We then have a wonderful dinner at the hotel restaurant, although we are the only patrons. Our table was by a huge, floor-to-ceiling picture window facing the mountainside. Very picturesque, but Jerry’s camera was left tucked away in the room charging batteries. I had a wonderful Turkish tomato soup, and Jerry had a salad. Then, we shared a chicken shish dinner—all for only 38 TL. Delicious!

Manisa Shepherds. As we were eating, we watched through the picture window a shepherd bring his goatherd down the mountainside. Those goats were amazingly agile and quick, balancing on even the smallest crevice or ledge. They picked their way down the steep mountainside, taking shortcuts no other animal could manage. The shepherd was very bent over from the weight of a large pile of brambles he was carrying on his back. We assumed he would use the collected brambles as a fence to secure the goats  in a closed-in area for the night. A few minutes later, we saw another shepherd coming down the cliffs with his flock of sheep. The sheep took the longer route down a switchback pathway. Such a solitary life being a shepherd, I thought. My moment of reflection then naturally turned to our Great Shepherd and Psalm 23: The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”

Heart Attack Parrot. After dinner, we drifted over to the hotel lobby and used the hotel computers to surf the net and do a little Facebook. With a wireless connection in the hotel lobby, I am able to use the iPhone and Skype to make phone calls back home. I called mother, and she was surprised to hear from me two days in a row. Suddenly, as I am sitting all relaxed on a lobby sofa chatting away, I am startled by a very loud screech! After recovering from the recoil and my palpitating heart, I look up to discover a parrot is in a cage right next to me that I never noticed! That screech almost made me jump out of my skin. Back at the room, I reorganized the suitcases and watched a little BBC news and a Smallville episode. These days, anything in English will do.

For a video of the Sardis and Philadephia action today:

April 22, 2010 (Thursday)

Selçuk. We catch our final breakfast at 8 am on the roof of our pleasant, boutique hotel that took us in after the Crisler Institute housing fiasco when we first arrived in Selçuk late on a Sunday afternoon. Ephesus is a major stop, so we have spent several days here. After breakfast, we get our bags and hit the road for the modern, sprawling metropolis of Izmir. This modern city of several million is built over the ruins of ancient Smyrna, one of the seven cities in the book of Revelation. The drive is pretty easy—good for Jerry.

Izmir (Smyrna). The city of Izmir, or ancient Smyrna, is important to us for several reasons. One is because Smyrna is one of the seven cities of the seven churches in the book of Revelation. Another is because one of the most famous martyrdoms of early Christian history was that of Polycarp (69–155), bishop of Smyrna, who was burned at the stake in the theater at Smyrna. The church father Irenaeus (d. A.D. 202) tells us that in his youth he heard Polycarp speak and that Polycarp had been a disciple of the Apostle John. Thus, Jerry and I are glad to be able to visit this important city of early Christianity.

Once in the major metropolitan area of Izmir, the Garmin actually did find our hotel (with the inflection of Gomer Pyle: “Surprise, surprise!”). The hotel is nice, but as we are checking in, we learn that the air conditioning is not working, so our room undoubtedly will be warm. We get our car parked in the hotel lot and our baggage upstairs. To get a jump on our brief time in Izmir, we immediately put our museum itinerary into action. We decided the most efficient action was to take a taxi to the Archeology Museum of Izmir. As soon as we get in the taxi, the driver tries to sell us a “taxi tour” and shows us pictures of sites, etc. We politely refuse his offer. On the way to the museum, he does stop at a scenic overlook of Izmir’s harbor bay for Jerry to take some nice pictures of the harbor area, including the panorama image immediately below.

Izmir Arkeoloji Müzesi. We arrive at the Izmir Arkeoloji Müzesi in short order and work our way through the displays methodically. We are quite a team now, Jerry taking pictures and dictating information, me following like a shadow recording data and enhancing entries with extra information from museum description plaques next to displays. I have gotten pretty familiar with what catches Jerry’s attention in these museums, and sometimes I even help him “spot” exhibits or artifacts he will find interesting. We view the museum in about 1 ½ – 2 hours. We are learning that every museum, whether large or small, has something unusual to offer. We found the most interesting exhibit at the Izmir museum to be the painted clay sarcophagi. Also, this museum has good representation of items from many of the ancient sites we have visited.

Miletus. The following items are from Miletus. They include classic stirrup vases about 13th century B.C., a statue of a woman about 2nd century A.D ., another statue from 150–30 B.C., a statue of the Hygeia and one of Asklepios about 2nd century A.D., a beautiful mug from the 12th century B.C., and the head of Satryos about 2nd century A.D.

Smyrna. The following items are from Smyrna, which is today’s Izmir. They include a Lebes Gamckos vessel of 580 B.C., statues of a woman and a man about 2nd century A.D., a statue of two girls found in the bouleterion, a rhyton pouring vessel from 6th century B.C., a beautiful oinochoe vessel about 630 B.C., oil lamps found in the agora area, head of a woman about 2nd century A.D., and the head of Athena about 2nd century B.C.

Sardis. This statue of a woman below is from Sardis, which we will be visiting soon. Sardis is one of the seven letters to the seven churches in the book of Revelation. The statue dates from 300–30 B.C.

Ephesus. The museum had a number of items from Ephesus, which we just had left. These included a statue of a woman from 2nd century A.D., an elegant statue of Hera dated 100–200 A.D., a statue of a man about 2nd century A.D., a partial statue in the nude of Dionysios and Satyros about 2nd century A.D., Antinous as Androclos from 138–161 A.D., and a fine relief expertly detailed of Dionysus visiting the Athenian actor Ikarios.

Thyatira. The ancient city of Thyatira represents another of the seven churches that received letters from the risen Christ in the book of Revelation. We will be visiting Thyatira soon. Remains from Thyatira before the Byzantine era are quite rare. The Izmir museum, however, does have a nobleman statue from Thyatira dated 2nd century A.D.

Side. Side today is a modern resort community on the southern coast of Turkey that is adjacent to the remains of ancient Side right on the shoreline. We already had visited the ancient site. The museum at Side was rather small, but had interesting examples of Roman burial practices. Here at Izmir we  saw a very well-preserved statue from Side of a priest dated rather broadly from 30 B.C.–A.D. 395

Manisa. The modern city of Manisa is the ancient site of Magnesia. We plan to visit a museum in Manisa that we had missed on our visit in 2002. Here in Izmir, we saw a statue from Manisa of some Roman emperor, dated 2nd century A.D.

Pergamum. We also will visit Pergamum in a few days. Pergamum is another of the seven churches of Revelation. The Izmir museum had the head from a statue of Hercules about 130–150 A.D that was found at Pergamum.

Didyma. The site of ancient Didyma is on the southwest coast of Turkey. The main tourist attraction is the temple of Apollo complex, whose construction never was completed. This head from a statue was found at Didyma and dated 140–160 A.D.

Other Items. Other items in the Izmir museum were not necessarily connected to a particular city, but were of note. Of these, Jerry was most interested in the statue of a Roman imperial priest, which was quite well preserved and illustrates the strength and popularity of the  imperial cult throughout Asia. A chair with griffin sides and winged back caught Jerry’s attention, since this was a seat of honor from either a theater or a bouleterion Jerry surmised. The clay sarcophagi were unusual, since we had not seen many, and in fantastic condition. The intricate artwork was impressively executed with geometric precision. Ornaments and medical instruments from the 1st–2nd century A.D. were right in our target date range. A nice mosaic was displayed on a wall. A old example of a lekythos vessel was from the 6th century B.C. A grave urn, burial figurines, and burial offerings all were dated to 1st century A.D., so Jerry studied them closely. Finally, Jerry said the display showing all the basic shapes of ancient containers and their names and descriptions of use was the best he had seen anywhere.

Roman Agora. After the museum, we caught another cab over to the Roman Agora. (This taxi driver also tries to sell us a taxi tour.) We had visited the Roman Agora in our previous visit to Turkey on the last sabbatical. Roman agoras were built as the hub of the ancient city. Here is where all administrative, commercial, political, and judicial business was conducted. Alexander the Great originally had built the Smyrna agora, but almost all of those structures were destroyed in the devastating earthquake of A.D. 178 that nearly wiped out the city. Generous help from the emperor, Marcus Aurelius, and his wife, Faustina, were crucial to the rebuilding of Smyrna, and what remains to be found today date to this Aurelian period after this earthquake.

The agora is quite changed from our visit in 2002. The ticket office/booth area has been remodeled and upgraded. Flowers are planted in the entrance area near the ticket booth, etc.—much nicer. Nearby, a schematic of the site now assists visitors in the layout of ancient Smyrna as well as the location of the agora in the city plan. Another schematic shows the ancient agora itself, with the two major remains of the West Stoa and the Basilica area.

West Stoa. The West Stoa of the ancient Roman Agora at Smyrna presents the bulk of what is to be seen on the site today. On the ground level, the Faustina Gate on the west side represents the main entrance to the ancient agora and has been erected since we were here in 2002. The keystone of the gate has a relief of the bust of Faustina, the wife of the emperor Marcus Aurelius who was instrumental in the rebuilding of the city after the great earthquake of A.D. 178. The only columns erected on the site are a part of the west portico of the agora along a line parallel to the West Stoa support arches of the basement below. The subterranean vaulted arches viewable today supporting the three-story superstructure of the agora represents what we would have considered the basement of the complex, housing water pipes and access to all parts of the agora. Some of the terra cotta piping system is still viewable today, and a fresh water fountain still supplies water to this very day (incredible Roman engineering). The Roman Agora of Smyrna is one of the few places where the visitor not only can see, but also is allowed to walk in this subterranean basement of an ancient agora, which is very neat.

Basilica. The Basilica area is perpendicular to the West Stoa on the north side of the site. Roman basilicas were multi-purpose rooms usually found on one side of an agora where speculators, businessmen, banking and other activities were conducted. The basilica at Smyrna is completely intact, although currently you are not allowed entrance. This area also has a run of the subterranean vaulted support arches, similar to the West Stoa, and you are allowed to walk in this basement area. Archeologists have set up an inscription that apparently was a part of the ground-level columned portico.

Earthquakes. The history of ancient Smyrna, as for many cities of Asia, is defined by earthquakes, which were not uncommon in this region of Turkey in ancient times. One particularly devastating earthquake in A.D. 178 required huge resources and finances for rebuilding Smyrna. The inscription below is to honor one major benefactor and patron of the city. The inscription reads: Praise to Damokkaris O Judge Damokkaris, famous with his skill! This success also belongs to you: After the awful (mortal) disasters of an earthquake, with very diligent work you succeeded in the making of a city out of Smyrna again.

Open Square. We look over the whole site of the open square from ground level. The archeological remains of excavation are gathered and stored in sections of the open square, apparently grouped by common connections. We do not know if plans include assembling these remains as a part of their original location and purpose. We also saw a pretty woodpecker while there. As we were walking the grounds of the open square, Jerry spotted a beautiful brown woodpecker on the gravel road. Jerry used his zoom lens and just barely caught a picture before the bird took to flight and disappeared.

Turkish Walking. When we were done, Jerry asked the ticket agent about getting a taxi to our hotel. The man says the hotel is “not far, and you can walk it,” which, we are learning, distance suitable for walking in Turkey is a matter of opinion. Evidently the Turks walk everywhere, so nothing is “too far” in their estimation. A man was walking by, and the ticket agent spontaneously subpoenaed the man to walk us part way to our hotel so we wouldn’t get lost, and the man agreed to do so. As usual, we find that the Turks are most hospitable. “Not far” means something entirely different to us than to the Turks. In fact, the hotel really “is far.” When we reach a street that is the main avenue of our hotel, we thanked our temporary guide, and he takes his leave.

We finally get back to our hotel, and the room is warm, as we suspicioned. While looking out the window across the busy boulevard, we saw some men across the street about 5 stories up trying to hand off a Turkish national flag from their office window to an adjacent office window. They were attempting to string the flag for display. The flag is huge. They had great difficulty throwing a string attached to the flag from window to window. Funny scenario. After taking showers and cleaning up for our evening out with friends in Izmir, I take a little nap while Jerry sets up his “charging station” for all his electronic gadgets.

Izmir Harbor Dinner. We get ready for our dinner with Levent, our Turkish travel agent who helped me with some of our accommodations, and Dr. Mark Wilson, founder and director of the Asia Minor Research Institute, who is an American but lives in Izmir. Levent and his wife, Natalie (from Ukraine), picked us up at 6 pm. Natalie is learning English. They take us to a mall area by the harbor to an Italian restaurant right on the water. (The owner is a friend of Levent’s.) Very picturesque area, and we sit outside to enjoy the view, even though the air temperature is pretty cool. We enjoyed an appetizer while waiting for Mark and Dindy Wilson, who arrived about 10 minutes later. We find out that Mark and Dindy live in the central city of Izmir and take public transit everywhere—thus, the late arrival. Dindy is very outgoing and I like her a lot. Mark is more reserved and very nice about answering my questions about Roman roads and travel from Antioch of Pisidia to Attalia. Mark estimates Paul could have done the journey in a week, but to me that amount of time still seems very fast—I must do some research on Roman road travel. We have wonderful gelato for dessert. The sun sets while we are dining, and the harbor view is gorgeous.

We finally get back to the hotel around 9 pm after a very nice evening. We learned from Dindy that the flags being hung all over the city were in connection with a national children’s holiday tomorrow, so now we know why those men were trying so desperately to hand the flag to each other outside the building. (You might pick out several of these huge flags on the sides of buildings in the background of the harbor shot above.) Back at the hotel, I try to give Angela a call but missed her (our NOBTS student who is house sitting for us). However, I was able to reach mother and talk to her for a bit.

For a video of the Izmir (Smyrna) action today:

April 21, 2010 (Wednesday)

We woke up to thunder and lightening this morning! Oh, I do hope the sun will pop out later. We get ready to go. Jerry called our friend, John Crider, and finally got to talk to him; found out Lauren had a great time at her high school senior prom, which was answered prayer, since for a long time she did not have a date to the event. Also, Lindsey was named Sophomore English Student of the Year at Samford.

Didyma. Leaving Selçuk for our long haul daytrip down to Didyma on the coast, we stopped by a little market to get some orange juice, two apples, two oranges, etc. for breakfast/lunch. As we drove along, the sun did start to come out! The drive was very nice whenever we came along the Aegean Sea. The shot below was taken on the map where you see the highway first comes out to the coastline past Miletus.

We finally arrived at Didyma. The two main sights to see are the huge but unfinished Apollo temple and the colossal Medusa head that is at the site. Spent a good bit of time there. The Apollo temple, had the project ever been completed, would have been the largest in the world, dwarfing anything ever attempted. Here is an artist’s rendition of the temple in construction.

The shot below is an aerial from directly overhead. (No, Jerry did not climb somewhere to get this one!) The grand foyer entrance is on the right. The temple proper is in the middle, with the  interior courtyard to the left.

The intricate carvings and detail on the base of the columns was stunning. These designs were not the same from base to base either.

Inscriptions indicate “reserved” seating in the temple compound area.

I was particularly happy to find the giant Medusa head, since I had seen this figure on so many brochures and other printed literature and advertisements.

Jerry thought this column capital was significant, as the carvings indicated the principle activity of sacrifice for this temple complex, especially the bull’s head with draped garland.

Miletus. We next retrace our steps and head back up to Milet, ancient Miletus. The city of Miletus is where the apostle Paul stopped on the return trip of the Third Missionary Journey in order to speak to the elders of the Ephesian congregation, whom he had called down to meet with him in Miletus (Acts 20:17–38).

Miletus Theater. We saw the Miletus theater again. The image below is the front of the theater, in which the middle portion, which would have been the back part of the stage, has been lost. The other two images provide perspective to show how large the theater is.

This time around we looked for and found the important inscription, “place for Jews and godfearers,” in the fifth row of the theater in the section to the right of the emperors seating. This inscription indicates that the Jewish population in Miletus was an integral part of the cultural and social fabric of this important Greco-Roman city.

Faustina Baths. We moved past the theater to the area to the west that we missed the first time around. There we were able to find the Faustina baths, which we had missed before.

In particular, the caldarian, or hot bath area, is well-preserved. The original stone carvings of the god Meander and the lion are in the museum in Istanbul. The figures in the bathhouse are accurate reproductions.

Harbor Market. We also surveyed the old market area adjacent to the harbor, the acreage of which is pretty much totally covered in shallow water these days. (Miletus, like Ephesus, had a significant silting problem for its harbor due to the slow-moving river.)

South Agora. The south agora (marketplace) was a significant part of the entire market area of Miletus, and is perhaps the largest ancient marketplace ever found. The warehouses connected to the south agora can be dated to the second century B.C., which means the apostle Paul would have seen them on his entry into the port of Miletus.

Miletus Synagogue. In this general market area is also the speculated location of the ancient synagogue in Miletus. This possible synagogue identification is the middle of the image below, not the ruins on top of the hill.

Miletus Harbor. After catching an overview of the market area and south agora, we next went looking for the old harbor, where Paul and company would have pulled in to port. We found the harbor area. As we walked around, Jerry was able to find the famous harbor monument with its image of Neptune mentioned in ancient sources that refer to the Miletus harbor. The monument originally celebrated the success of Pompey in ridding the Mediterranean of pirates. Later the monument was dedicated to Augustus, who inaugurated and managed Rome’s transition from republic to empire. We studied the harbor monument area and got pictures.

Miletus Lion. However, Jerry also wanted to locate one other famous archeological remain related to the ancient harbor at Miletus—the sole surviving Harbor Lion statue, one of two lion figures that stood guard over the entrance to the Miletus harbor. We started surveying the site for the lion. Jerry knew the lion would not be perched up on a pedestal easy to spot across the fields, because the entire site is submerged as part of a giant bog these days. So, how were we going to have any chance to find the Harbor Lion of Miletus?

As we were pondering our predicament, a wizened old shepherd of small stature must have caught sight of us before we caught sight of him. This shepherd somewhat catches us off guard because he already is hurrying toward us when we finally catch sight of him. He seems to be motioning for us to follow him, so we did. Wow! This little guy walks fast! Jerry was having a hard time keeping up, and I began to lag further and further behind. Jerry later said that he began to get worried about the distance beginning to separate us, but he felt like as long as he could kept me in his line of sight he would keep following the shepherd, who was moving at a furious pace. (We later figured two reasons why he was moving so fast. One reason was the lion was a long way away from where we were, which we did not know at the time. The other reason was he had had to leave his flock behind to come help us, and the good shepherd was not going to leave his flock for long.) We had no clue where he was taking us. He spoke no English, and we spoke no Turkish language. Yet, having only seen us at a distance, he seemed to divine our need immediately and came to help us post haste.

Miletus Shepherd. In some areas, you move around simply by walking the ridge of an embankment, almost like a levee system. Our Miletus shepherd led us down the ridge of one of these levees straight to the lone remaining lion figure that had stood at the old harbor entrance. We never would have found that lion, one, because his shape was almost unrecognizable, worn and rounded after so many centuries unprotected from the elements, and, two, because he was almost totally immersed in the swampy water.


After getting us to the spot he knew we were looking for, the shepherd pulled out of his worn and tattered overcoat a crumpled cache of old pictures. They were pictures he had accumulated over the years of himself with others he had shown around the harbor area of the Miletus site. He’s a cute little man. I took a picture of Jerry and him, and we gave him some Turkish lira for his trouble. He bid ado and headed on his way back to his sheep.

Occasionally we could hear his sheep bleating as they paused from their grazing to look up anxiously, not seeing his familiar figure nearby. He would call out to them with a very distinctive tone and pitch, and, even though the shepherd was far away, the moment the sheep heard his voice, they calmly went back to their grazing, reassured once again all was well—“My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). Jerry already was conjuring devotional thoughts based on this wonderful experience. The Miletus shepherd: he knows your need; he knows the way; he leads you there; he makes your day.

Miletus Museum? The journey back to the theater area where we started is a long hike. We finally get back and retrieve our car from the parking area. As we are leaving the Miletus site, we pass by a new building. We stop to find out that this new facility is supposed to house a new Miletus museum. Jerry sees some personnel on the premises, apparently guarding the area, and inquires when the museum will open. One of the attendants understands a little English and responds that the museum should be opening in the fall. Hurray! Another museum to visit—but that visit has to await another trip to Turkey and another journal.

Priene. Now, we’re off to our third and final goal of this long day: the classical site of Priene. We are able to find the site without too much trouble at all. Priene is in the same large valley area as Miletus but right on the ridge of a mountain range. However, getting up to the site is another story altogether. Priene is most unusual, as the site is located pretty far up a steep mountainside from the valley floor. Though the hike up the steep mountainside from the parking area is quite a climb, after several rest stops to give me a breather with my blood pressure problems, we finally arrive. Once up to the top, the hill levels out and getting around the site is actually easy. We visit the small theater that seats around 6500. The theater seating is in very good condition. From the top of the mountainside above the theater, the view of the valley is awesome. Jerry wondered if Miletus were visible down the valley to our right, if he knew exactly where to look, but he was not sure. In any case, this “city on a hill” provides a breathtaking and beautiful view of the vast expanse of the Meander Valley below.

All ancient theaters had an altar to Dionysius. Before special plays and commemorative events, sacrifices were conducted. The name of Dionysius is recognizable in the last line of the inscription on the side of the theater altar at Priene.

Other sights to view are the Athena temple, an agora, and other features typical of an ancient city. The Athena temple is situated dramatically on the hillside because the sanctuary was perched right at the foot of the acropolis, whose sheer walls create quite the stunning backdrop for the temple.

As we are getting ready to leave the site of Priene, we discovered an interesting water “junction” with clay pipes going out in five different directions. The design of a city’s water system was one of the great engineering feats of the Roman world. Unfortunately, the day now is getting long, and we still have to drive back to Selçuk, so we finally have to leave.

Amazon Bistro. We did it! We visited three ancient sites in one day! We headed back to Selçuk. Finally back at our hotel, we take time first to record our pics into the database I am keeping. This database is the premier tool Jerry will use to catalog what images he has and what illustrations they provide and to incorporate those pictures into his classroom lectures. So, the first task at any point in the day and at the end of the day is to keep this database updated. After concluding the database task, we finally can relax. We decide to go to dinner at the Amazon Bistro again, that restaurant near our hotel where we ate the first night and had that wonderful Greek salad. Of course, Jerry had Greek salad again.

Background Music. While we’re eating, a CD is playing tracks for background music. Jerry is quite taken by one particular song beautifully arranged with a gentle tango feel and Greek lyrics. After we eat, Jerry asked our waiter, who also was the proprietor of the establishment, the name of the song. The waiter pulled the CD out of the player, and we can see that the CD has no names—the compilation is homemade. The restaurant owner, however, insisted on giving the entire CD to Jerry. The Turks are very giving. Jerry was somewhat embarrassed. He had planned to find the song on iTunes or somewhere. You almost hate to say you like something, because your Turkish hosts will try to give it to you.

Back in the States Jerry later discovered the song was entitled To Tango Tis Nefelis, performed by the Greek female vocalist, Haris Alexiou. The translation of the lyrics is a little weird, Jerry says, but he still loves the song. Here is a YouTube music video of Haris Alexiou’s arrangement that had struck Jerry in the restaurant at Selçuk.

Perpetual Photographer. On the way out of the bistro, Jerry asked for my iPhone, and at first I did not know why. Then I saw what he saw, the sun setting gloriously over the Artemesian complex of Ephesus, and I realized Jerry had left his camera back at the hotel. I also remembered that the rain that the early morning had threatened never came the entire day. Hooray for my photographer! The day’s ambitious goals fully met, the bistro’s background music in our hands, and the sun’s beautiful goodbye on our minds, we enjoyed the casual stroll back to the hotel.

For a video of the Didyma, Miletus, and Priene action today: