Archive for April, 2011

April 27, 2010 (Tuesday)

Canakkale. Jerry woke me up at 4:45 am so we can get on the road. We took our bags to the car and came back for breakfast, which was supposed to be at 6 am, but we find out has been changed to later in the morning at the insistence of the Koreans. So, we skip breakfast and get on the road at 5:31 am. The day is rainy and messy. I really don’t know how Jerry has stood all this driving. I know I never could do the job. I probably would have pulled to the side of the road the first day and called Avis to pick up the car.

We pass close by the site of the Battle of Granicus (334 B.C.) near modern Biga, Turkey, where Alexander the Great defeated the Persians in the first of three famous battles with the Persians on his way to conquering the world. Unfortunately, we do not have time to stop for a picture or two. Our drive pretty much follows the southern shore of the Marmara Sea. We have to catch a different highway at Bursa and then another one later at Izmit. Eventually, seven and a half hours later (!), we arrive at the International Airport in Istanbul about 1:00 PM. We did not even stop for lunch.

As we got into the terrible crush of Istanbul traffic in this city where millions live, we easily could have missed the necessary turns, but we didn’t. While I usually am the one watching out for and finding road signs and directions where to go, this time we made our destination only because Jerry barely happened to catch two important signs out of his peripheral vision as they raced by for necessary changes in our route toward the International Airport. Even catching these two important signs, however, by the thinnest of margins, we still had the weirdest thing happen as we were making our way into Istanbul.

Istanbul Mystery. We get to the International Airport by miracle actually. Here’s what happened, but we still don’t know what really happened. We entered into town on D100. This superhighway is like a massive Interstate with six lanes of traffic each way, going at Interstate speeds, almost bumper to bumper. We are just humming along this superhighway in one of the middle lanes, when, ultimately—in some mysterious way, completely unfathomable to us how—the speed of the lane we are in gets steadily slower, and the other lanes on either side of us just disappear. Jerry asked, “What’s happening?” to which I only could respond, “I have no idea.” He then asked, “Well, where is this thing taking us? Where are we? I thought we were in the middle of a superhighway only a minute ago!” “Me too!” I exclaimed. We are going downhill and getting slower and slower. Eventually, the road we are on just simply dead ends at the bottom of the mountainside at the wharf right on the water’s edge! How did we move in less than a minute or two from Interstate-like speeds to an absolute dead end at the water’s edge? I have no clue. What to do now?

Never fear! Jerry’s unbelievable radar kicked in. Like he had been on this side route a hundred times, he got a visual fix on the superhighway, which we could see way up above us at the top of the mountain curving its way to the major bridge over the Bosphorus Straights. He found his way, somehow, weaving back up the mountainside thorough busy traffic, stoplights, one-way streets, and the like, without one wrong turn or having to retrace our steps to start over—right to an egress getting us perfectly back onto to the bridge we needed to get across the Bosphoros Straights, just as if he knew the way! Amazing! Praise God! [But, we still do not know to this day what happened that put us at the bottom of the mountain at the water’s edge when we were in the middle of a superhighway—Jerry.]

International Airport. Now that we are back again in that traffic carrying millions of people millions of places, we still have a tough time following all signs and maneuvering correctly for the right lanes and turns to get to the airport. We have to get to the airport to return the car. We do not know what we will be facing at the car rental place, as we have to return a vehicle that has somewhat hidden damage to the front bumper and clear damage on the right side rear door, all happening that terrible time arriving and leaving Antalya. We plan to take a taxi to the hotel after returning the car, so we do not have to fool with returning the rental car (with its unknown time frame for dealing with the return) and trying to catch our plane tomorrow morning early. The airport is confusing because the car rental return is on the 3rd floor of a parking deck without anywhere to park the car! We pull up to what seemed to be the Avis area, and several men came out of the Avis booth and motioned for us to park behind other cars in a line, so we do. Then, 5 or 6 men start walking around the car, pointing to the dent and front bumper, waving their arms and talking Turkish. We have car rental insurance, but we are not sure how they work all this in Turkey. Finally, one man says, “is OK,” and then, pushing a form in front of Jerry, says, “sign,” so Jerry signed the paper, and that was that. We never heard from the rental company. All our worries and fretting during most of the trip over returning a damaged rental car are gone in a moment. Having returned the rental car successfully, we’re now off to find a taxi, which also is confusing. A couple of nice guys sense our predicament and help us find the taxi stand down an elevator at ground level.

Lost Treasure. We finally get to the taxi stand and Jerry notices that his Tarsus poster, which he was carrying in its cardboard tube under his arm, is missing, so he goes back up retracing his steps frantically to try to find the treasure, but to no avail. It’s gone. Disappeared. He’s so sad about losing that particular poster, because the girl at the Tarsus museum gave the print to him especially, pulling the artwork out of a closed case. The poster was a special commemorative limited edition of the Vatican’s millennial celebration of St. Paul in Tarsus. The girl behind the counter had seen how intense Jerry was about the museum artifacts that she had given him the poster as a special gift. Jerry was very touched by the gesture and was going to hang the poster proudly in his seminary office. He had carried the poster carefully everywhere all over Turkey for weeks, and now the prized limited-edition print is lost forever. He thinks he might have left the tube in the bathroom right before we took the elevator down.

Empress Zoe Hotel. After Jerry returns dejected with no poster, we continue to the taxi stand. Two taxi drivers get into a heated exchange about who is next, that is, who gets to take us. What a rig-a-ma-roll! Reminds us of the two taxis that showed up in front of our hotel in Berlin, Germany the morning we were going to the airport to fly to Turkey who argued who was going to get the fare. Finally, we are on the long drive to the hotel. When the taxi driver goes past our Empress Zoe Hotel, I have to tell him to go back. Very good thing that I already knew what the hotel looked like, since we had stayed there before on our previous trip to Istanbul. The hotel is right in the middle of things. The famous Blue Mosque can be seen immediately in the background of the hotel.

We check in. Our room is on the top floor this time—quite a climb of narrow, spiral stairs! We get settled in quickly, because we need to get to the Istanbul Archeological Museum before the place closes for the day.

Istanbul Archeological Museum. We walk the few blocks to the Istanbul Archeological Museum, precisely why we love the Empress Zoe Hotel. We go through the museum and search for the Caesarea Pontius Pilot inscription, but do not find the stone that is our only historical documentation independent of literary sources of the existence of Pontius Pilate. We do find lots of very interesting artifacts, including inscriptions, such as the Hezekiah inscription and an inscription from the temple in Jerusalem. After finishing the Archeological Museum, we go across the museum plaza to the other building to take a quick view of the Ancient Asia Museum, wondering if perhaps the Caesarea inscription might be there, but the inscription is not there either. Jerry now is wondering if his information is mistaken; he thinks the inscription actually might be housed somewhere in a museum in Jerusalem.

The museum holds an important Hebrew inscription taken from King Hezekiah’s tunnel dated from 716–687 B.C., built to access a water supply from the Gihon Spring to East Jerusalem’s Pool of Siloam. The inscription records the work on the tunnel and is one of the oldest Hebrew inscriptions of its kind using the Paleo-Hebrew alphabet.

Another inscription on limestone below dates from the 1st cent. A.D. and documents the prohibition against profaning the sanctity of the inner compound of the Jewish temple in Jerusalem. The inscription reads: No intruder is allowed in the courtyard and within the wall surrounding the temple. Whoever enters will invite death for himself. In the New Testament one can compare the mob riot against Paul when he was believed to have brought the Gentile Trophimus into the inner temple area (Acts 21:27–29) and Paul’s metaphor about breaking down the dividing wall between Jew and Gentile (Eph 2:11–14).

The following image shows a fragment of a 1st cent. A.D. boundary marker found in Gezer in Palestine. The inscription bears the name of a governor, Alkios.

Most fascinating was a round table whose outer circumference displayed a band of reliefs depicting various biblical scenes, such as Adam and Eve, Abraham offering Isaac, and Daniel in the lions den. One in particular that caught Jerry’s eye was a relief depicting Jesus raising Lazarus. The table hails from Laodicea about the 4th cent. A.D.

Statuary from various locations in Turkey were well represented. These included: the supreme god Zeus found in Pergamum dating 2nd cent. A.D.; a beautiful 2nd cent. A.D. statue of a woman from Aphrodisias; Polemeanus, proconsul of Asia from 106–107 A.D.; a 2nd cent. A.D. statue of Euterpe from the Bath of Faustina in Miletus and another similar statue of Euterpe from Miletus; also from Miletus was a statue of Melpomene, dated 2nd cent. A.D.; the head of a woman, taken from 2nd cent. A.D. Ephesus; the head of the emperor Tiberius (14–37 A.D.) from Pergamum; the head of the emperor Claudius (41–54) from Izmir; a beautiful 2nd cent. A.D. statue of Cornelia Antonio from Antioch of Pisidia; a 1st cent. A.D. statue of the goddess Athena from Manisa (ancient Magnesia); and a 2nd cent. A.D. statue of the god Apollo in the Greek “heroic” fashion from Miletus.

A colossal statue of the emperor Hadrian (117–138) illustrates the style of Roman imperial propaganda. Hadrian is depicted as larger than life. He is dressed with regal robe draping his neck and decked out with the imperial military cuirass. He stands triumphantly, with his boot on the neck of the vanquished enemy. The enemy is portrayed in a humiliating style as pigmy in size, forced down on the ground in submission, prostrate before the Roman general. So much for the consequences of opposing invincible Rome.

The relief below depicts Trajan’s (98–117) victory over the Dacians. The relief hails from modern-day Romania.

The relief below shows prisoners bound at the neck. The relief is 2nd–3rd cent. A.D. from Miletus.

The god Hercules depicted in the relief below dates to to the 2nd cent. A.D. and is a rare artifact from Iconium (cf. Paul’s first missionary journey, Acts 13:51–14:6).

Aphrodisias yields a beautiful 2nd cent. A,D. relief depicting the goddess Athena in her quarrel with Poseidon, god of the sea, over possession of Attica. The style is overtly imitative of the great Altar of Zeus in Pergamum.

The 2nd cent. A.D. marble carving below was found in Ephesus. The wonderful workmanship depicts Oceanus, a concept held by both Greeks and Romans of a world-ocean, or global river that supported all inhabitable lands. He was personified as Titan in Greek myth, and after Poseidon later came on the stage of the Greek gods, Oceanus was understood to rule over the unknown waters of the Atlantic, while Poseidon ruled the Mediterranean ocean.

The museum has some mosaics. The scenes presented are the typical fare. The scene below is a gladiator with spear. In the following relief is another gladiatorial scene showing the early morning “warm-up” fights with beasts of various kinds. One is reminded of Paul’s strong metaphor, “even if according to human ways I fought with beasts at Ephesus” (1 Cor 15:32).

The millstone was used for grinding meal. The one below is from Polymyra, Roman period. The diameter is about finger to elbow. One can imagine how heavy this stone is and then recall the statement of Jesus: But whoever should cause to stumble one of the least of these who believe in me would be better for that person that the millstone of a donkey be hung around the neck and thrown into the depths of the open sea (Matt 18:6).

Several gravestones caught Jerry’s eye that were from the early Roman period. The first one below is from Thessalonica, 1st cent. A.D., of a Gaeus Cousonios Cusipus. The following one also is from Thessalonica, 1st–2nd cent. A.D., of one named Agathon. A painted limestone grave marker from Sidon of Lebanon has this inscription: O D [illegible] of Pisidia–Balboura, son of Exabous, the standard bearer of the allied forces, good man, farewell. His brother Ceraios had this erected. The final image shows a finely executed relief from a 1st cent. B.C. tomb monument that was done for Tiberius Flavius Miccaulus, who was both a prefect and priest. The monument and its almost life-size relief is rather large and imposing and displays military dress and armor with great detail.

One of the most striking exhibits at the Istanbul Archeological Museum is the so-called “Tomb of Alexander.” This sarcophagus is not really the tomb of Alexander the Great, but probably was a tomb monument for one of his successors. Alexander the Great is depicted in the elaborate reliefs surrounding the outside of the tomb, and, hence, the name. The following image provides a closeup of the far left of the relief below, and shows Alexander in the heat of battle. Many people do not realize that most of these great monuments would have been brightly painted. The museum provides a separate display on a wall close to the sarcophagus that shows how the same image would have appeared originally in its bright colors, which is given in the third image below.

Strolling Around. After finishing the museums, we walk casually back towards the hotel. The weather is turning cool again, and it’s windy! We are finishing our overseas adventure like we had begun in London—cool and breezy. We stop to eat at a very nice restaurant, which is our first meal of the day, since we missed breakfast because of the Koreans at Canakkale, and we drove hard all day without stopping for lunch to get to Istanbul. We have wonderful soup and salad. Jerry has shrimp casserole, and I have chicken spaghetti. Delicious. After eating, we shopped across the street and found some nice souvenirs for several people. The owner insisted on showing us carpets at his other shop across the street, so we looked. He was very nice, and we did enjoy looking at a very beautiful antique carpet in particular. Also, he had a picture of a beautiful cat in his shop window, and I asked about the cat. This feline is white with gorgeously blue eyes, and we find out the cat has just had kittens and is across the street at his other shop. The shopkeeper takes us back across the street to see her and the kittens tucked away in a cubicle with a small curtain entrance in the back part of the other shop. They are so pretty!

Back at our hotel, we use wifi to call mother, Cindy, John/Donna, Angela, etc., and post on Twitter and Facebook. The hotel comes with its own complement of cats, one for each floor. This one joined us for the Twitter and Facebook sessions.

Jerry went out onto the terrace veranda to see the ships moving through the Bosphorus Straights up into the Black Sea and back down out to the Marmara Sea. The city of Istanbul straddles both sides of the southern end of the straights. He caught a picturesque evening image of the purple wisteria blooms dancing on the ends of their limbs against the backdrop of the ghostly haloed moon rising above the shimmering water.

Jerry returns to the room and backs up his pictures from this last day of the trip, and we get ready for bed. We have to get up in only a few short hours at 3:00 am to head back out to the airport and—home!

So, thus ends our April 2010 adventure to Europe and Turkey. The trip has had a sort of Charles Dickens character—“It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.”

For a video of today’s action in Istanbul:

April 26, 2010 (Monday)

Up early and to breakfast, which is pretty minimal at the Iskender, with not even a bowl of cereal.  🙁   Jerry still insists he is going to have a great day anyway. If you knew how much Jerry loves breakfast, you would know he was being a real trouper!

On the Road Again. After “breakfast,” we start off for Assos. Assos was a stop for Paul and company on the return of the 3rd missionary journey (Acts 20:13–14). We basically follow the main highway in this part of Turkey, D550, which also is E87, that runs on up to the major city of Canakkale. So we just keep following signs to Canakkale. We travel pretty much along the coastline with the big island of Lesbos on the sea’s horizon off to our left. Highway D550 eventually departs inland from the coastline to take a valley pass through some foothills that run to the edge of the seacoast. As we reach the city of Ayvacik, we are glad to see a sign directing us to turn left to go to Assos. The highway actually has a number, 17-51, but that is not to say this is a highway. Off we go down small streets, through several villages, where, without fail at each village, there’s at least one small café with a bunch of Turkish men sitting around doing nothing. What is that? Unemployment? Laziness? We noted the same thing in 2002.

Assos. We finally arrive at the “modern” village of Behran on the coast close to the ancient site of Assos. “Modern” is a relative term here. Let’s just say there’s one broken down car and no golden arches, so you get the picture. We notice that tourists are walking down a steep hill, so Jerry hikes up the hill to figure out where to go. In fact, this hill is the acropolis of ancient Assos. He finds the bilet (ticket) booth and comes back to get me. It’s a long climb up this hill, but we finally make the ticket booth with a few breaks for me.

Athena Temple. We go in the gate and climb some more. At the top of the acropolis is a temple to Athena and a view of the Assos harbor below. Too bad the weather is so grey today. The view on a sunny day would be spectacular. A nice display nearby educates visitors to the construction and significance of the Athena Temple, including a full-color drawing and a scale model.

The following panorama view of the Mediterranean Sea is from high up on the acropolis of Assos. To get this shot, Jerry, of course, is right on the edge of the acropolis ledge. (Where else?) The Assos harbor is the faint white jut out into the sea to the far left of the image.

Here is a shot of the Assos harbor far below the acropolis using the full zoom of the camera. You can see how the harbor is still in use today.

We watched a squirrel sitting on one of the boulders, so we can add an Assos squirrel to our animal collection for the trip (Laodicia lizard, Perge turtle, Derbe prairie dogs, etc.).

Assos Theater. After hiking back to the car, we drive down the steep hillside to visit the harbor. We travel along a narrow, treacherous, and winding road, which is rather nerve wracking to me. Jerry is quite the pro, especially at figuring out pullover spots anticipating when we need to let cars coming back up from the harbor get by us. On the way, we pass the Assos theater. We stop so Jerry can go take pictures of the theater. The theater is not that well preserved past its first section. However, you still can imagine how beautiful the Mediterranean navy blue made for a backdrop to this theater!

Harbor Lunch. We finally arrive at the harbor, which is beautiful and quaint. We find a restaurant, use their facilities, and eat lunch at a table by the water. The fish was freshly caught. I had brim and Jerry had a swordfish kabob. The food was delicious, and the scenery so picturesque—even on a cold, cloudy, windy day.

We are having lunch at the harbor where Paul would have joined back up with Luke and others for the trip on down to Miletus after walking by himself down the Roman road from Troas to Assos at the end of the 3rd missionary journey (Acts 20:13–14). Paul was here!!! Even with the inclement weather proving a challenge for getting the postcard-pretty pictures he always wants, Jerry could not have been more content.

After our main dish, we have the traditional hot Turkish tea, which is so wonderful in the chill of the air, and then pay the 85TL bill. The money was well worth the experience, and made up for our hotel back in Bergama this morning serving only a minimal breakfast (not even cereal). Jerry was right. We did have a great day anyway!

Roman Road. After lunch, we head off for Alexandria Troas, which is about 60 km to the northwest of Assos. Rather than going back up the little 17-51 road we came down to the coast on and then catching the D550 superhighway back at Ayvacik, we decide to take the scenic route running right near the coastline. This route, which is highway 17-52,  in part actually follows the old Roman road that ran from Troas to Assos. That decision turned out to be a great one—quite fortuitous!

As we are driving along, I remembered that our friend, Mark Wilson, during our harbor dinner at Izmir had said that a part of the ancient Roman road is visible between Assos and Troas, so I started looking to see if I could spot any remains as Jerry was driving. I suddenly catch a glimpse of what I think is the old Roman road. Jerry stops, backs up, pulls over to the side of the road, and disappears down the embankment to investigate the situation. He comes back up to announce excitedly, that, sure enough, what I had glimpsed is clearly a portion of the ancient Roman road! We know that Paul traveled overland from Troas to Assos by foot while his companions took a ship down to Assos (Acts 20:13–14), so Paul would have walked this road.

What a feeling to walk that road! The day is quite overcast, quite windy, and quite cold, but the experience of walking where Paul walked is definitely worth braving the elements.

Catching this unmarked Roman road was lagniappe fit for a king as far as Jerry was concerned. He relished the discovery and soaked in the moment thoroughly. Today was our last full day of touring, and Jerry finally got to walk a Roman road Paul had walked on this trip. We were locked out of the Roman road uncovered in downtown Tarsus, and we missed finding the Roman road on the way to Derbe, so this looked like the trip overseas where Jerry never would have the chance to walk a Roman road. Yet, here by the mere coincidence of a spontaneous decision to take the scenic route by the sea rather than the superhighway inland, we find a Roman road we know Paul walked. Yes, indeed, Jerry was right early this morning. We truly did have a great day!

Doesn’t matter whether anything is there to be seen, my Pauline scholar just wants to walk any road the great missionary to the Gentiles walked. I can tell his sense of indebtedness to Paul is keen. My devoted scholar mused that had Paul not walked this road, he might never have heard the gospel of saving faith in Christ. To be such an academic, Jerry sure has a devotional spirit.

We proceed along the mountain foothills following the meandering, narrow highway through small villages and pastoral scenes with sheep grazing. As we are traveling, we saw a man riding a donkey down the road. The sight provoked me to wonder out loud to Jerry whether perhaps Paul rode a donkey during any of his travels. I then immediately followed that up with a comment wondering if they had “Avis Rent-A-Donkey” available back then. We had a good laugh at that thought.

Dalyan. We got to Dalyan, a village on the Mediterranean coast close to Troas. We wanted to visit the beach where we had taken one of my favorite photos from the 2002 trip. This time however, the skies were heavily overcast, with a front moving in and the wind blowing stiffly, producing a serious wind chill factor. We take a picture on the beach, but the contrast from the 2002 picture could not be more dramatic! This time is absolutely freezing with the wind blowing really hard and no sun. In 2002 the day was sunny, warm, and beautiful when we were here. Compare for yourself below!

Troas. On to Troas, only a few kilometers inland form the Dalyan beach, where we find  a “car park” on this go-round—the place has developed just a little since we last were here. Jerry reveres the site of Troas, since, he points out, Troas is where Paul’s 2nd missionary journey really got kicked off in earnest after Paul had gotten off track in his fight with Barnabas over John Mark (Acts 15:36–40). At Troas, Paul received a renewed sense of call to mission and specific direction from God in his famous “vision of the Macedonian” (Acts 16:8–10). The stopover at Troas also is important because Troas is where Paul picked up Luke, his lifelong and trusted missionary companion. This connection of Luke to Troas is implicit in the Acts text, because the narrative shifts from third person to first person plural, “we,” right at this point in telling the vision of the Macedonian—the beginning of the first of three “we sections” in the text in Acts (Acts 16:10). So Jerry loves to visit Troas, even with hardly anything above ground to see there.

Just as we arrive, a man who is the attendant at the ticket gate is about to leave the site on a motorcycle, apparently at the end of his workday. However, though he probably could have driven on off, leaving us without assistance or direction, he stops when we pull up. He is kind. He offers to stay, even with the inclement weather. He gets back off his bike, and proceeds to show us all the newer excavations, which are very interesting. He even gives us a schematic of the archeological site, which is nice to have to orient to where various ruins are scattered about in the thick overgrowth. The schematic is in German, but Jerry gets his bearings with this resource.

The site is very overgrown, so we have to walk through tall grasses and weeds waist high at times. Our guide moved fast. Quite a tour—he even showed us some human teeth from a jawbone that they found during excavations. Just as we arrive back at the car, rain begins a steady, cold drizzle, so I wait in the car while Jerry dons his poncho and heads back to take some pictures. The “tour” the attendant led us on was so fast that Jerry had no time to compose pictures. He regrets that he cannot give much information about the significance of the finds, since he did not even have time to jot down any notes as the attendant talked while walking rapidly along. Jerry is glad to see this part of the site has had some attention since our last visit in 2002, but he wishes descriptive signs could be posted!

The terracotta piping so common to Roman period construction is evident now at Troas. One nicely preserved section was just sitting propped up on the ground. Jerry speculates the second image is a cistern fed by a terracotta pipe for collecting rain water.

The foundations of buildings and temples are evident now that we never saw in our first visit. The outlines of  the typical broad, collonnaded streets can be determined in conjunction with the remains of these buildings.

Below is pictured the remains of the odeon, which is the smaller theater intended for musical performances, poetry recitations, and other assemblies. The outline of the seating area is more evident in person than in the image.

Some of the lintels for the collonnaded streets or entrances into buildings allude to a former grandeur for Troas. Apparently, the archeologists do not have the columns that go with these lintels, or else do not have the necessary heavy lifting equipment and cranes such as we saw at the on-going work at Laodicea. That kind of machinery takes a boatload of money.

The rectangular base in the picture below has a Latin inscription. The pedestal probably represents an honorarium for a leading citizen or public official of Troas.

The levels of earlier occupations in centuries gone by that are hidden away just a few feet beneath the present ground level are apparent in these images.

Fortunately the structure below has been identified. A sign leaning up on a block to the right in the picture gives some information in German. These steps are all that is left of the Agora Temple that was next to the Troas market. The structure apparently had been misidentified in earlier work, because the description used to be the Temple of Augustus.

Down the road a little on the other side of the highway is the site of the Herod Atticus arches, the most visible ruins of ancient Troas left behind today, which we had explored before. This part of the site, however, now is very overgrown and hardly recognizable, and makes Jerry very sad that no one is taking care of the beautiful treasures. Herod Attitcus was a wealthy, 2nd century Greek aristocrat and Roman senator who also was a Sophist philosopher. He always was in good standing with successive emperors. Emperor Hadrian appointed him prefect of the free cities of Asia in 125, and emperor Antoninus Pius appointed him as a consul in 143. During his life, Herod Atticus was well known for his philanthropy and gifts to public works. One of these gifts was the aquaduct system at Troas that helped support a bath complex in the eastern part of the city. The arches for the aquaduct can barely be seen in the background of the picture below, as well as some surviving arches in the foreground of the bathhouse complex.

Canakkale. After finishing the Troas site, we retrace our steps back to Dalyan, catching 17-52 to head east over to Ezine, where we can pick up the main highway again (D550), turning almost due north to drive on up to Canakkale, our stop for the night. We will have a long, hard drive tomorrow to get all the way from Canakkale to Istanbul, turn in our rental car at the Istanbul International Airport, catch a taxi back out to our hotel, and still have an hour or two in the late afternoon to catch the Istanbul Archeological Museum before flying out of Turkey the next morning. This trip is jammed packed to the last minute!

Congested Canakkale. The Garmin takes us straight to congested downtown Canakkale where the hotel is supposed to be, but we cannot find the hotel anywhere. Major road construction is a problem again, making navigating the downtown area a mess. The Garmin keeps saying “turn,” and we cannot turn because of construction—and we cannot read the street signs. So the Garmin goes into an infinite loop of “recalculating.” Worthless. We find a tourist information office in bustling downtown Canakkale, so Jerry pulls over, and I go in to ask for directions. I learn that our hotel is not “in the city of Canakkale” but back out somewhere on the highway we came into town on! Oh, brother! Since we already have passed up the hotel somehow, even though looking everywhere for signs or the hotel name, then how are we supposed to find our hotel where our reservations for the night are? So, the Garmin was completely and totally wrong. Our hotel is nowhere near downtown Canakkale. It’s actually quite a way back in a different community, a suburb of Canakkale I guess you might say. Since the Garmin was useless, how did we find the hotel? A miracle, Jerry says, because Jean is “very observant” (an in-house joke between us).

Unidirectional Signs. By chance I just happened to see important signs that I recognize as the community in which our hotel is situated, and these signs finally lead us to the hotel. Curiously, though, we suddenly realize these signs are viewable only coming back out of Canakkale, the direction we now are traveling. These signs to the hotel are not viewable in the direction we came in on. Jerry was so glad I caught sight of the signs we needed to find the hotel (because I am “very observant”). I guess for our second to last hotel of the entire trip to be easy to find would have been too much to ask. Generally, locating our hotels has been a serious challenge on this trip.

We finally arrive at 6 pm. Fortunately, dinner is not until 7:30, and lots of Korean tourists are here. To be quite honest, we find Korean tourists everywhere in Turkey to be quite rude in general. These Koreans were no different. I remembered the remarks of our sweet Pammukale hotel owner, Judy, who had served us hot tea and allowed us to use her hotel wifi even though we were not staying at her hotel. Judy had stated in a rather matter of fact way as we talked about tourists from around the world that she would rather deal with anyone else besides Korean tourists. As a hotel proprietor, Judy found the Koreans to be extremely demanding, always driving too hard for room rates and meal prices that simply were beyond reason. She said she had to have other tourists just to support the Koreans, and if all she had were Korean tourists, she would be out of business in a month.

Fortunately in this hotel we are able to connect to wifi in the lobby so I can call mother. We go back to our room to repack everything for the final leg home and organize ourselves. We have to be up quite early to hit the road for a very long driving day to make Istanbul tomorrow.

For a video of the Assos and Troas action today:

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: