Archive for April, 2011

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:

April 22, 2010 (Thursday)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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