Archive for the ‘ Travel ’ Category

April 25, 2010 (Sunday)

Pergamum. We get up a little later today, since we are less pushed. Our schedule has only one objective, the acropolis of Pergamum, and we already are almost there. Since we have been to the Pergamum acropolis before, we are catching specific targets Jerry has mapped out to supplement what he already has for his classroom work. We get breakfast at the hotel, and then head to the Pergamum acropolis just outside the Bergama city limits. As we are leaving, the hotel manager asks if we would mind giving his daughter a ride to her school, which, he explains, is right on the way to the Pergamum acropolis, which we are happy to do. She’s a 9th grader and speaks only a little English, but is able to say “stop” when we need to let her out. Sweet girl.

Pergamum Theater. We drive up the steep grade to get to the top of the acropolis and get to the site just as it’s opening, so very few people are here. We go straight to the theater to do a movie. Oh my, I had forgotten how steep the theater is, and my vertigo is awful! We record a good “talking head” movie, and Jerry, of course, traipses all the way up and down the theater steps with ease. He does a movie from the bottom of the theater, and then we head to Trajan’s temple. In the image below, find the people moving back up to the top.

Can you find Jerry in the picture below? He is at the bottom in the remnants of what is called the skene, or backstage.

The boy has no fear and no vertigo. He is just a hustling up and down the steep, steep steps—and no handrails!

Trajan’s Temple. Though only a small portion of the temple itself survives, the platform area is just as beautiful as we remembered. We are at the very peak of the ancient acropolis, and the commanding view of the valleys below is magnificent. The temple stands as an important witness to the reality of emperor worship in early Christian experience and the powerful threat and constant challenge the imperial cult posed to gospel proclamation—the image that chisels the background to the book of Revelation into bold relief. The first picture below is looking up from the theater to the top of the acropolis past the foundational terraces constructed to support the entire Trajan Temple complex.

Inscriptions are displayed near the temple area, and, interestingly, even I now can read some of them after observing Jerry for several weeks! Jerry does a movie of me reading an inscription in Greek and then translating into English. How about that!! He says he is going to use the movie in his Introductory Greek class to tell his students that if his wife can do that after only a few weeks listening to her husband, surely they can learn Greek in a semester!

The first word in the inscription, Jerry says, is autokratora, the root from which we derive our word “autocrat.” In ancient Roman inscriptions, this word is translated “emperor.” In the imagery evoked by the word, the emperor claims to be the “self-powered” one, that is, the one who is more powerful than anyone else and stands secure on his own two feet under his own power. Interestingly, Jerry says, the most common name for God in the book of Revelation is pantokrator, or “all-powerful one,” which often is behind our English translation, “Almighty.” Jerry thinks this pantokrator term for God is oneupmanship on John’s part against the autokrator of imperial propaganda. This rhetoric for the name of God in Revelation is bold, political counter-propaganda, John’s deliberate broadside across the bow of Rome’s imperial ship of state. The one who truly stands on his own power with feet like burnished bronze is one like a Son of Man (Rev 1:15); this one is the true ruler of the kings of the earth (Rev 1:5). Indeed, the “self-powered” emperor to whom this inscription refers lies in his grave to this day. The grave of the king of kings, however, lies empty to this day. So, who really has the power? Jerry just loves to see this word autokratora beginning Roman imperial inscriptions. He says this relic of a once glorious and mighty empire is a constant reminder to him of one of the greatest ironies of human history and one of the deepest truths of Christian proclamation: the gospel of his Son, who was . . . declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead—Jesus Christ our Lord (Rom 1:3–4).

Pergamum Aquaducts. After the inscriptions, we head north behind the temple area to find the water supply that Mark Wilson had told us about that we missed the first time here, and we are successful! We go further down the back side of the acropolis and are able to see the remains of the Roman aqueducts in the fields below! What an amazing water system the Romans used. Here at Pergamum, instead of gravity, the Romans designed a siphoning system that ran the water up tunnels into Pergamum.

Altar of Zeus. Next, we head over to the sparse remains of the foundation of the Altar of Zeus for a movie. (The reconstructed altar is in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin. For a video of the Berlin display, click here.) About all you can see today perched on the point of the acropolis where the temple once stood with its commanding view of the valley is a small grove of trees. On the right side of the trees you can see the bare outline of the original steps of one of the wings of the “U” shaped entrance.

While Jerry was taking pictures of the Zeus Altar, I noticed the beautiful blooming flowers all around us. I got out my iPhone and took this picture. Truly lovely.

Pergamum Library. From the altar of Zeus, we next search for the famous Pergamum library, which proves pretty difficult to find, if not impossible. Finally, Jerry spots and translates a German sign about the library, which helps him locate the proposed site. No restoration work has been done, so telling much about the library is hard. Jerry does think that the German identification of the place of the library running the northern length of the main courtyard of the Athena Temple is correct, as this squares he says with information about the library from ancient sources, though these references are admittedly somewhat vague.

The ancient library at Pergamum rivaled that of Alexandria. Plutarch claimed the library held 200,000 volumes, but we really have no way of knowing, since no index or record from ancient times has survived. King Eumenes II of Pergamum ordered the library’s construction, but its future later was threatened when the Ptolmaic dynasty ruling Egypt eventually refused to ship papyrus, an ancient form of paper universally used for writing that was produced only in Alexandria from the reeds along the Nile River, to Pergamum in a severe case of library envy. As to be expected, necessity is the mother of invention. Eumenes II refused to bow the pen. He put his scientists and inventors to work, and parchment was their miracle product. Parchment is a thin sheet of sheep or goat skin that is highly durable. This Pergamese invention of parchment, in fact, changed history. The long-standing Egyptian monopoly on the raw materials of writing was broken, and the eminently more durable and lasting form of books caused knowledge to advance much more rapidly throughout Europe and Asia.

Now, Jerry actually is in the picture below. Can you find him? As a hint, let me just say that, as usual, to “get the shot,” he is walking a wall.

And here are the shots he wanted. He said he was looking for that “long angle” running the length of the library. As I have said before, I am lucky to have him in one piece after any of these trips of ours.

Jerry thinks the regularly-spaced holes in the stone walls might have been for the support beams of the roofing, but he is not sure.

Hellenistic Houses. From there we head off in search of the famous Hellenistic houses with their wall frescos and mosaics. No signs exist to show us how to get to these homes, so we wander around a little. We eventually determine the path that we need to take actually leads down the steep slope away from the theater and on past the Altar of Zeus, and so we’re off down that path to find House Z (Bau Z).

We found House Z, and the residence was worth the search, for its beauty is truly amazing. The mosaic floors are original to the site and are more complete than any we saw in the archeological museum in Hatay (ancient Antioch of Syria; for that blog post, click here) or in the terrace houses at Ephesus (for that blog post, click here). Jerry was delighted. He took pics and did a movie.

The first picture below shows what Jerry at first thought was like a mini-odeon, only this one inside a private home. In contrast to a large theater, an odeon was a smaller public structure for more intimate musical performances, poetry recitations, and other cultural assemblies. We later learned, however, that this structure was part of a heroon to Diodoros Pasparos. A heroon was a shrine either to commemorate or to worship a hero. Both Greeks and Romans had a pervasive cult of heroes tradition. The strength of this type of cult was the association of the welfare of an ancient city with the heroes attached to that city. Often, the bones of the hero were preserved in the heroon, but not always. In some sense the hero was thought to be present in the cult activity, and the cult activity was thought to insure the hero’s allegiance to the city. The heroon hall is in the second picture. The corner artwork of this hall symbolizes military and gladiatorial themes.

The picture below is quite instructive for the history of the house. The archeologists intentionally have left the bare remnants of the original Hellenistic period mosaic floor of the house. This level would be the slightly larger white stones just above the middle of the picture. The Roman period mosaics are the smaller stones making up the geometric shapes. These stones simply were laid on top of the earlier Hellenistic floor. The next picture shows the entire walkway.

This design in the picture below features Dionysus. The figure of Dionysus was very common in Roman mosaics.

In the design below, the outer octagonal frames are comprised of theater masks. The inner group of four octagonal frames have two pairs of images facing each other; one is a pair of leopards, and the other is a pair of roosters. These represent gladiatorial themes. Thus, the floor is designed with a theme of two of the most common forms of public entertainment of that culture: the theater and gladiatorial combat.

Divided Paths. Jerry decided to take a hike further down the steep mountainside to find another Hellenistic house mentioned in the Reddish resource book. Some people are heading back up the path to the main site, so Jerry tells me to follow them rather than trying to keep up with him, because he will have to move quickly to span the distance all the way down and back up, so I return back up to the main site with this group. Unexpectedly, though, I discover only later that this path I am following with this group instead of returning to the main site at the top of the acropolis where the theater and Trajan temple are, rather brings me right out at the bus parking area at the entrance to the Pergamum site! I make the assumption that Jerry realizes that this path winds up at the main parking area, and that is why he told me to take this route, because we are pretty much done with our visit. The path is pretty steep and hard to climb, but I make it back up and go to a restaurant to get a Coke light and buy a big bottle of water for Jerry, because I know he’ll be burning up and thirsty when he finally gets back, since we were out of water in our backpacks.

Jerry eventually did find the second house, called the House of Attalos, but he was most distressed to witness its state of decay and inattention. The frescoed walls had all but disappeared, and overgrowth of vegetation was infiltrating and breaking up what remained of the mosaic floors. So sad, Jerry thought. He had no clue why the structure had become so neglected as to be near complete ruin—risking loss forever.

Pergamum Miscue. After a very long while (well over an hour), I think Jerry should have returned by now, so I go up to the entrance and look around for him, but I don’t see him. I continue trying to find him, so I look down the path I came up and still don’t see him. Suddenly, I see him coming down the main road from the main entrance into the Pergamum site and call out to him. Jerry is shaken and quite visibly upset. I find out that he’s been looking for me inside the Pergamum site for the last hour, and, not finding me anywhere on the site (he had run all over the entire site calling out my name) had gotten very worried something awful might have happened to me. Obviously, to say that he is extremely relieved to see me would be an understatement. In fact, he had feared the worst and was very upset. For a while he was just overcome with emotion. He took about 20 minutes to regain control. I feel terrible since I thought he knew the path he told me to follow the people up was different from the one we came down. I’m so glad we’re safe and back together. After resting a while at a restaurant near the ticket area, Jerry finally settled down, and we head back to our car.

We make our way back down the acropolis mountainside. We stop along the way and take more pics of the Roman aqueducts that can be spotted off in the distance from the access road. Jerry’s large zoom lens does an amazing job pulling in the aqueducts.

Red Basilica. We also look down in the valley into the suburbs on the outskirts of Bergama and spot the famous tourist stop called the “Red Hall” or “Red Basilica,” originally a 2nd century temple probably built to the Egyptian god, Serapis, whose construction often is associated with emperor Hadrian. The temple later was converted into a Byzantine church in the 4th and 5th centuries dedicated to the Apostle John, considered to be the author of the book of Revelation. (Pergamum was one of the seven churches in the book of Revelation.) However, association of the spot with the original 1st century Christian community in Pergamum is tourist misinformation often promulgated by tour group leaders, Turkey travel guides, and websites—but completely absent any historical basis. More interesting and factual is the amazing engineering feat the Romans accomplished in building this temple by spanning the Selinus River with a huge bridge 643 feet wide and directing its waters through two massive channels under the temple. The superstructure is still used today for modern buildings and a roadway across the river.

ATM Miscue. We are running short on cash so we stop for gas and find an ATM. My card did not come out after I put it in, and I almost had a heart attack. Fortunately, a lady cleaning around the ATM area interprets my problem, comes over, punches a couple of buttons, and out pops the card! Whew! Jerry and I both had near heart attacks for different reasons on the same day.

FBNO Worship. Back at the hotel, we get cleaned up and go downstairs so we can try to log in to FBNO for church for the live Internet broadcast, and it works! The service is at 9:30 AM in New Orleans but late afternoon for us in Pergamum, Turkey. Hearing is a little difficult with the puny computer speaker system, but we can hear enough to hear the music, with Robert leading the praise band and David preaching his heart out! How wonderful! We have not had Christian fellowship in many weeks, and were really feeling spiritually starved. Brucie Bear, my friend since we were children, who lives in Jackson, is attending the service online too! What a great thing to see everyone online. Like water in the desert.

After church, we walk to the restaurant next door for a change of cuisine for supper, but it’s closed, so back to our hotel to eat. Tonight a different cook is working because a large tour group has arrived since we checked in, and the dinner is much better.

We return to our room to back up all the pictures taken today and charge all the batteries, etc. We are running out of storage space on Cindy’s backup gadget. Fortunately, we think we can get by, since we are nearing the end of our adventure. We have only one more full day of touring, our trip tomorrow to Assos and Alexandria Troas, and then 1 travel day up to Istanbul, a quick afternoon visit to the Istanbul Archeological Museum, and then 1 travel day home the next day!

For a video of the Pergamum action today:

April 24, 2010 (Saturday)

We slept a little later this morning, since the Manisa museum we are here to visit does not open until 9 am. Breakfast is good, with omelets and cereal. The spoons they give you for cereal are as large as serving spoons! After breakfast, we get our bags and luggage and check out.

Manisa Museum. The Garmin leads us straight to the museum! What irony this rare success with the Garmin turns out to be that the Garmin for once gets us straight to a museum. Why? Well, the only time the Garmin gets us straight to a museum, we will be hugely disappointed.

Manisa Mosque. We were confused at first by the large mosque to which the museum is immediately adjacent. At first, we think the old mosque has been converted into the Manisa Museum. After Jerry explores the block, though, he is convinced the building actually is a functioning mosque.

Museum Entrance. Jerry finally finds the museum’s entrance gate. Walking all around the entire block, he discovers what looks almost like an alleyway off to the side of the mosque, but that is the museum entrance! We step in and see a ticket booth just inside and to the left of the entrance gate.

Museum Status. We go to buy a ticket at the ticket booth, but we are told the museum is closed for renovation!! Closed?? At dinner last night on the harbor at Izmir, Mark had told us that, after a serious theft a year or so ago, the museum curator had “put away most items worth seeing,” such as the original and famous, unusual eagle table from the synagogue in Sardis. We still wanted to see what there was to see in the museum. Unfortunately, Mark didn’t know that the museum also was closed. The caretakers at the ticket booth had indicated the reason as “closed for renovation,” but we saw absolutely no evidence whatsoever of any renovation work going on anywhere—for quite some time, if ever! We conclude this place must be closed indefinitely, perhaps even for years—who knows with labyrinthine governmental bureaucracy?

Museum Misery. What a disappointment! The museum at Manisa was the second most desired item on Jerry’s to-do list for the trip, and the only one specifically mentioned in his Lilly grant application. So, the great irony of this sabbatical travel has been that the top two items on Jerry’s list for the trip—seeing the gladiator burial grounds at Ephesus and researching the museum at Manisa—were a complete bust. I can tell immediately that Jerry is devastated—I mean, really devastated. That persistent, mischievous twinkle in his eye vanishes. I feel terrible for him. We are finding that the hardest part of any research of museums in Turkey is getting accurate information! No one had said a new museum was under construction in Miletus, yet we found an almost complete new building out just as we were leaving that site. (For a reminder of that visit, click here.) Not even the Turkish government website says anything about the Manisa museum being closed (and certainly no official admission that this closure most likely means closed indefinitely for the foreseeable future as far as we can tell). Ugh!

Courtyard Tour. Jerry has a dogged determination. His self discipline is intensely focused on meeting goals. That is to say, he is one determined old cuss. I can see him forcing himself to move on through the disappointment with a set jaw for the rest of our day and the trip’s itinerary. After being stunned temporarily by the unexpected and unpleasant news of the museum’s closure, Jerry pushes himself into action. He asks permission, and we are allowed to look around in the garden/patio area where some artifacts are lying around, including statuary and inscriptions. Jerry takes pictures. We do find some interesting items. Later in the day, when we toured the museum at Bergama (ancient Pergamum), we took some consolation in being able to see items that came from Manisa, including four grave stele, an osthotec (a small box for holding the bones/ashes of the dead), and inscriptions. Here are a few pictures of the courtyard and its items of the Manisa Museum.

Jerry says this inscription below is about the worship of the the revered god, Apollo. The emperor Domitian liked to compare himself to Apollo, and scholars speculate the name for the king and ruler of the Abyss in Revelation, “Apollyon” (Rev 9:11), is a play on words for this connection to Roman imperial propaganda.

This Roman sarcophagus has the traditional Medusa head on the side. The representation was intended to ward off evil spirits.

This closeup below shows a word that appears often on grave stele and grave memorials. The word is chaire, which is akin to our “Farewell.” This is the goodbye to the deceased loved one.

This grave stele below with a relief depicting family members records an epigram for Asklepiades and Stratonike (Demirei). The date is 2nd century B.C.

The following inscription, dated A.D. 235–236, is an elaborate confession to Zeus by a man whose name was Theodoros. In the confession, Theodoros calls himself a “sinner.”

The following inscription is a record of the letter of a priest from Sardis to the proconsul of Asia Minor written about A.D. 188–189. Although almost a hundred years after the book of Revelation, this letter illustrates the continuing strength of pagan and imperial worship in the very area where the seven churches of Revelation were located.

The following relief memorializes four named gladiators. The first two names are Hermes, and Kuros, but Jerry could not quite make out the names of the other two.

The following inscription is an “honorific,” that is, a decree by the people of Mysia Abbatis (Gordes) dated 130 B.C. to honor a leading citizen or public official, probably for some special public benefaction.

The inscription below is written in small but very neat letters and records the testaments of Epikrates (2nd or 3rd century A.D.). The inscription is written on both the front and back sides of the monument.

This image below of a military officer and his attendant is a relief inset closeup from an honorary inscription by the Lakimenoi, Hodenor, Mokadenoi, and Ankyranoi (Demirci) sometime after 129 B.C. The soldier is depicted in standard military parade dress. Jerry was not sure, but the very small figure on the left could be either a dependent heir of the military nobleman or possibly a conquered people. The small proportions would be appropriate for either the dependent heir or as a sign of humiliation for the conquered. The relief has been defaced; the individual faces have been scratched into anonymity and the head of the smaller figure knocked off.

Jerry was fascinated with the following incomplete inscription. He had read that the process of preparing a stone for an inscription included scoring the stone with parallel lines that later were erased when the inscription was finished. However, he never had seen these scoring lines before. Because this inscription was not completed, the light scoring lines are still visible. This image was a pleasant surprise and find for him. Yea!

Jerry forced a smile for our traditional self portrait at the museum entrance. He is a real trouper.

Ahkisar (Thyatira). We leave Manisa and head to our next destination for the day, Ahkisar, which is ancient Thyatira, one of the seven churches of Revelation. The Garmin is some help in putting us in the right direction.

Sehir Markez. Modern Ahkisar is actually quite large, a busy city with lots of traffic, pedestrians, and one-way streets. Jerry has a hard time negotiating the congested downtown area. We head toward what looks like central city and then see a sign to “Sehir Markez.” Jerry guesses this means something like “downtown market” and heads that direction. We drive right up to the site of ancient Thyatira, which is a whole block in the middle of the Ahkisar market district! So the modern market literally is right on top of the ancient market! Our problem is, in this crowded, busy downtown business district—where to put the car? We drive around the perimeter of the excavation several times looking for a place to park, but the area is jammed. We finally find a place to park on the street about a half block from the site of the excavation area. We decide that I should wait with the car to be sure it’s okay. Good decision. A “meter man” comes by shortly after Jerry has left and asks me for 2 TL to pay to park, which I pay and get a ticket for the windshield to show we paid. I actually have fun people watching and observing the “regular” routine of downtown Ahkisar.

Ancient Thyatira. Jerry walks back up to the site of the excavation and pays the small entrance fee at the gate. I saw him disappear beyond the gate to explore the site. The original excavation work was done in the 1974–1975 season. As was typical in Roman Anatolian cities, the main street into the downtown area was collonaded on both sides of the street with 100 columns topped with Ionian and Corinthian captials, interspersed with 25 statues or reliefs of Eros. The surviving basilica, which shows the area excavated was in fact the ancient agora, or market, dates to the late Roman age, but only the brick superstructure remains of the original marble façade. When he got back Jerry said that he had gotten some good photos and a movie. Yea! Success! I can tell he is a little encouraged actually to find the archeological site of ancient Thyatira in the middle of a busy Turkish city. The faint hint of that twinkle in his eye seems to return.

Bergama. Our third and final destination for this busy day is Bergama, which is the modern city next to the acropolis of ancient Pergamum. Pergamum is another of the seven churches of Revelation. Road construction made the drive to Bergama difficult and dusty! As we are getting closer to Bergama, Jerry commented that from now on he’ll always think of dust when he thinks of Turkey—to which I spontaneously replied, “Yeah, if I were still a child who liked to eat dirt, I’d be in heaven.” We both laughed so hard that Jerry had tears in his eyes and could hardly drive! I guess I’d better not be so funny. But dust and dirt are ubiquitous with Turkey!

We get to Bergama, and, surprise! The Garmin can’t find anything. Yet, Jerry (alias “Radar”) follows his nose straight to the museum! Not one wrong turn. How does he do that? We parked across the street, checked the museum hours, and then had a little lunch in a line of small bistro restaurants across the street from the museum entrance. The museum is open until 6:30 pm, which is later than other museums typically and gives us time to get lunch. OPEN is a very important word in Turkey.

Bergama Museum. We get lunch at one of the little bistros. After eating, we record the Thyatira pictures there at the restaurant, because I had not been with Jerry to make records as he was shooting away like I normally do. We then went back across the street into the Bergama museum. The museum has some new additions since last we visited in 2002. So sad to me that they only have a model of the altar of Zeus and a piece of one horse from a relief—The Pergamon Museum in Berlin has it all, and the reliefs on display in Berlin are so beautiful. In the Bergama Museum, a new room for Islamic culture has been added, which is very similar to the display in Antalya. Our museum visit is about 3 hours. Jerry had me record the following information from a nice description of the ancient Pergamum School of Sculpture.

Pergamum School of Sculpture. The ancient city of Pergamum politically and economically was a powerhouse in the Hellenistic period of Anatolia and a leading city in science and arts. This distinction in science and arts was energized by the Pergamenese kings’ interest in science and arts and support of artists. As a result, Pergamum developed a strong tradition as a cultural center. In style they absorbed 4th century Greek realism and naturalism that replaced the 5th century grotesque style. In this new style, the gods were depicted with personality and natural body movement–vivacious figures with facial expressions–all closer to reality. Specific features of this style included detailed body anatomy, but exaggeration on muscles, with a richness of motion, yet severe and sharp manner of the body. Body motion was suggested by shadows in drapery. Facial expressions sometimes were exaggerated to reveal emotions; the most common was suffering. Related emotions commonly depicted were excitement and enthusiasm. Male hair often was disheveled, with a strong contrast of light and shadow by carving deep parts in the hair.

Significant examples of this Pergamum style are the bronze statues of Galatians ordered by king Attalos I to commemorate his victory over the Galatians. While we do not have the originals, we do have marble copies from a later period. The famous Altar of Zeus is the most important work of the Pergamum school, which also was in remembrance of the battle against the Galatians. On this altar, the scenes depicted in the gigantic friezes in high relief symbolized Pergamum’s foundation myth, especially in the inner friezes of the altar. Their foundational myth is the story of Telephoros. This monumental Altar of Zeus does not reside in Turkey. German archeologists spirited the original material to Germany, which is now housed in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin. (For our visit to this museum earlier in this trip overseas, click here.) Portraits also have an important role in the Pergamum school. The most renowned is the famous Bust of Alexander that now resides in the Istanbul Archeological Museum.

Museum visitors are looking at the description of Pergamum’s great Altar of Zeus with black and white photos of the original friezes that are reconstructed in the Pergamon Museum in Berlin. We were sad that all the Turkish people had to see of their own archeological artifacts were black and white photos from a museum in another country. A model of the altar is in the left foreground of the picture. (For a link to the blog on the Berlin Pergamon Museum, click here.)

The image below is a model of the Trajan temple complex that sat on the very top of the Pergamum acropolis. We will visit the temple site tomorrow. The temple illustrates the strength of the imperial cult religion and provides background for understanding the context of the letters to the seven churches in Revelation.

Torso of a man in Roman armor found at Pergamum. Probably imperial.

This table leg of the Hellenistic period is from the Pergamum acropolis. The artifact was found in the house of the Consul Attalos.

Roman sundial. This one is similar to the one we saw in the museum at Side. (For a link to the Side blog, click here.)

A statue of the emperor Hadrian in the Greek “heroic” style (in the nude). The statue was in the library at Asklepion (the famous healing center associated with the god Asklepios that was adjacent to ancient Pergamum). The toga of the nobleman is draped over the left arm, and the military dress of the general is next to a missing right arm.

A finely-executed statue of the goddess Fortuna discovered in the lower city of Pergamum.

This Roman sarcophagus is from Kestel. Besides the traditional Medusa heads, the relief indicates a person of equestrian rank.

The museum has a nice display of Roman pottery from various periods.

We saw more children’s play stones than we’ve seen anywhere. They are approximately the size of nickels and dimes.

The museum has an osthotec from Manisa. An osthotec is a small box for holding the bones and ashes of the dead. The garland and bull denote sacrifice.

This Medusa head mosaic is very similar in design to the one that we saw at the museum at Corinth in 2002. This mosaic is approximately 4.20 x 4.45 meters.

Below is a display of medical instruments, probably associated with the Asklepion that was near Pergamum. When he sees these kinds of archeological artifacts, Jerry says he always thinks of the New Testament description of Luke as “the beloved physician” (Col 4:14).

The votive inscription below is from the Demeter Sanctuary of Pergamum. Jerry says the dedication is to Aristinos, who was a Roman city magistrate, or local provincial official.

This image is another Roman honorary inscription. The honorarium was found in the theater area and dates from 37 B.C. to A.D. 14 during the reign of Augustus.

Another honorary inscription is from the theater area, dated a little later to A.D. 114–123, that is, somewhere toward the end of Trajan’s reign and into the reign of Hadrian.

The head below is a copy of the famous Pergamene Head of Alexander the Great. The original is in the Istanbul Archeological Museum.

Another item from Manisa is a grave stele of Greco-Persian origin. The traditional royal lion hunt is displayed.

We saw a whole series of grave stele and osthotecs from Manisa.

Wall insets house four grave stele of Roman origin from Manisa. Jerry thinks the inscription on the stele on the far right has a mistake, but to be sure, he needs to research this later when he has time. A closeup follows of this supposed mistake, and then an image of the second stele from the left, which is the nicest of the four.

The museum has a very nice assembly of Roman glassware. These small and delicate pieces probably were used to hold oil and ointments. Even thousands of years later, one can imagine how subtle and beautiful the original colors were.

This gladiator stele was found in the Roman basilica area (commonly called the “Red Hall”). The relief shows one particular aspect of fighting with wild beasts. Paul uses the imagery of fighting beasts as a strong metaphor of his missionary struggles in Ephesus (1 Cor 15:32). (Some speculate that Paul literally might have been subjected to beasts in the theater at Ephesus, but this scenario is highly unlikely.)

Pottery from the Greek Archaic Period is on display. The geometric designs and shapes are traditional.

Votive offerings were made at the Asklepion near Pergamum for healing received. The part of the body healed was the typical form of the offering. The votive below apparently was for the healing of an ear or for the sense of hearing. The inscription reads, To Asklepios, Savior, Fabia Secunda, according to her strong desire.

Jerry called this wing “the bronze room,” because almost all the display cases had bronze objects. Most of the objects were Roman of the Early Bronze period. The following image is a bronze statue of a soldier.

The museum, of course, had a display of the typical oil lamps one sees everywhere, but this lamp below is distinctive in design and incorporates two lamps together.

This relief depicts Demeter making a typical sacrificial offering. The Roman relief is from the terrace level of the Pergamum acropolis.

Jerry was fascinated with this piece. He is not sure of the exact nature of its description as a “corner acroterium,” but the 2nd century artifact is from the Asklepion.

The coin exhibit is limited. The bee image hails from Ephesus, dated about 387–295 B.C. The poorly preserved Seleucid coin is Antiochus III, dated about 222–187 B.C.

The chariot relief below has fine detail, but the accompanying inscription is incomplete. Jerry speculates this might be a depiction of the sun god, Helios (Roman: Sol), in his traverse of the heavens. Note what appear to be sunbeams emanating from the hands. The horses’ hooves look to be trampling upon a serpent. Jerry says the identification would be stronger if the imagery had four horses; traditionally, Helios had four steads (Pyrois, Aeos, Aethon, and Phlegon).

One rarely sees the actual molds that were used to create iconic impressions. The image below shows a ceramic mold used to make such impressions.

The Roman statue below represents the mythological creature, Centaurus, who had the torso, head, and arms of a man, but the body of a horse. This statue was found in the Asklepion.

The following inscription is dedicatory to the emperor Caracalla (198–211). He is honored as “Father of the City.”

A jewelry display included bracelets, necklaces, and beautifully detailed gold earrings.

Iskender Hotel. After finishing the museum, we got to our hotel, the Iskender, where we’ve stayed before, and check in. The room is nice enough, and best of all for Jerry, two oranges and a knife to peel them await him on the table! We discover that wifi works in our room with no password needed, and we called several people: Robert Comeaux, Cindy, Pops, Janice. We eat in the hotel restaurant, and it’s okay, but nothing to write home about. Then, we use the hotel Internet computer to check email, etc. Tomorrow we’ll be heading to the Pergamum acropolis right on the edge of modern Bergama.

For a video of the Manisa, Thyatira, and Bergama action today:

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: