Saturday, September 8, 2007

Where Have I Been?

It has been nearly a month since I have written in my blogs. Some may be wondering where the heck I have been, so here I am to answer.

Selçuk Turkey! But there are more important names Selçuk has been known by over the centuries like Ayesoulouk, Efes and Ephesus. Yes I have been on holiday with the Kerimol family in a place steeped in the history of civilization.

First off let me explain, for those who do not know, what a “holiday” is. A holiday is a lengthy time of relaxation where you do NOT work. It is a time of enjoyment that is unspoiled by anything. I can not ever remember having a holiday before and I have to tell you everyone must try it. Hell I only checked my Email three times, and that was just to see if I had any messages from my kids. Big change from normal where I practically live in Email. Anyway back to Selçuk.

It was an amazing place to me. We started off going to the local museum where we saw some of the findings from the various digs at Ephesus. Two really interesting areas, at least to me, in the museum were the Gladiator Necropolis and Artemis Temple finds. The finds from the Gladiator Necropolis (Gladiator Graveyard) were fantastic. Their gladiator type (you could tell by their armor) and specific weaponry (depended on their type) were on display, some of the original weapons were there also along with reproductions so you could see them whole. There were reliefs and interestingly enough each gladiator’s statistics. Oh, one specific statistic listed for each was their gender! Now all the stats found to date are listed as male; however, why list the gender at all much less as the third (behind name and type) unless there were both male and female galdiators? Thats a question for all those out there who still refuse to believe that there were female gladiators. One of the most interesting displays was that of Marcus Aurilius, yeah the dude portraid in the movie Gladiator!

The other area of note for me at the Selçuk Museum was the Artemis Temple and the Stoa (sacred area in the city). The museum holds the two known “Mother Artemis” statues.

Thats the one where Artemis is shown whith what everyone believes are 32 breasts, they are really Bull Testicle representations. She has every kind of life represented on her male and female of everything. The statues are bigger than life sized and this one is HUGE! There is also a model of the layout of the Artimis Temple which is about a mile away from the outskirts of the known parts of the antique city of Ephesus. This statue was found between the two colums below in Ephesus.

The next place we visited was the Basillica and burial place of St John (Jean), which was obviously a vast structure, and I was amazed by what is left of it’s ruins. This is model of it complete:

And this is İbrahim in front of the Tomb of St John.

This is the usual first stop on the christian pilgriamge trail.

Pretty much what is left now is the lower half of the first floor. In some places the ceiling and part of the second floor is present also. The construction is clearly in the Roman style and is of course beautiful in it’s complex simplicity. Arches and Domes, of brick and plate stone, unbelievable how strong they are still.

In contrast to the basillica is the Selçuki Mosque, built about 1000 years later, only 100 meters down the hill. The Selçuki Mosque was constructed of stone and marble block.

Again the structure is fantastic and it is still a functioning mosque in some parts. The vast courtyard is surrounded by a three story wall and is beautiful. The stonework is gorgeously plain with marble used as inlay in geometric designs.

We went to Ephesus twice, mainly because I stupidly deleted all the photos I took the first time while moving them from the camera to the computer! Yep, for everyone out there who knows me, I have not changed much in that area I am still a big goof! The burning question in my mind the entire time of both visits was why aren’t they excovating more? They have found so much already and have excovated so little! Really what it came down to was Money. If they excovate they must preserve, excovating costs a lot and preserving costs even more!

Ephesus was built much earlier than the Bassilica or the Mosque, and the older lower parts (6th century BC) are constructed completely of cut stone. The stone work in Ephesus is something to see. I was in awe at the skills of the people who did the cutting, fitting and carvings. The work was extremely hard and the accuracy unbelievable. The roads were mainly plated stone but the three main roads (from the harbor to the market and Amphetheater, from there to the Celcius Library and from there to the Senate and Artemis Temple) were plated marble. The road to the senate is called the Priests Way, and was lined by statues and monuments, along with intricate mosaics. This is me pretending to be a statue on the Priests Way (the Marble Road between the Senate and the Library).

And just down the hill from here was the reminance of the longest Mosaic sidewalk I have ever seen!

The Celcius Library is absolutely fantastic and is a central draw for all the tourists clamboring for pictures!

The Ampitheater is monstrous and has been well preserved by nature and the stadium is also huge and still being preserved by nature!
Earlier I spoke about the stone work and this photo is an example. This is the header of the entry into the chaple of the Church of Mary. Interestingly enough during a visit to the House of The Virgin Mary we found out that there was a seal (one of those plates you press into wax to create a seal in an envelope) with the exact same design as the center flower cut into this stone.

This is Jale standing in front of a font exactly in the center of the Church of Mary in Ephesus.

The other areas at Ephesus I really loved were the Terrace Houses where the majority of the excovation work has happened of late, and if you see it you will know why. The reliefs, the briliant Frescos, the absolutely beautifully detailed Mosaics, and some of the best marble work (both floor and walls) in history. This is an example of the excentricity of the Mosaic designs.

If you take the time to pay attention you can see the ceramic water pipes. I say pay attention because you dont have to look hard to find them they are everywhere. Yes, for all the stupid people left in the world, there has been not only running water in homes since who knows when, at Ephesus they had hot and cold running water, and climate control within their homes! I have heard about romans having water run down the walls to keep areas cool, but at Ephesus there was hot and cold water piped through the walls to keep the homes both cool in the summer and warm in the winter. How? Simple stuff really, run a set of pipes over and around a small hearth then between the double walls (every wall of each house was really two walls with about 6 inches between them).

These homes had both baths and toilets inside them too. Understand we are talking about civilization in the BCs here. In western America they were still using outhouses, sweltering in the heat of summer, depending on air flow alone to cool, and using multiple fireplaces to heat specific rooms 20 centuries or more later.

Another area of fancy in Ephesus, and by the way, largely excovated is the Brothel. The Brothel is a very large complex, it encompases a public toilet and bath house along with a male and female brothel. It is directly across from the Library on the corner of the marble roads up to the Senate and to the Amphetheater. The Brothel is exactly in the center of the known parts of the city. When the area was first excovated in the 1800’s they believed it to be a temple of some sort because the found what was believed to be a small statue of a fertility god. The statue was of a relatively small, stout man, with an incredibly large, how can I say this… member? Hell, his penis was as long as he was tall, and bigger around than his head! The more they excovated the more of these little ‘gods’ they found of different sizes. Then they began finding multiple statues of multiple sizes in the same small windowless rooms. You know what I am getting at here. Someone finally put the pieces together and figured out that their "Temple" was a temple of the flesh and their little fertility god was not a falic symbol, rather a falic device! Now if you are old enough to understand, then you get it; if not, you can figure it out when you are!

The attached Public Bath and Toilets were large, and they began finding others in every corner of the city. These were some clean people! The first thing you run into at every entrance to the city was in fact a Bath. There is also a bath connected to every building of importance, the Senate, all the Temples, the Brothels, the Ampitheater, the Market, and the Statium. There has also been at least one bath located in each home they have excovated. I think the only building without a bath that I saw was the Celcius Library and it is directly across from the largest of the public baths.
The Temples at Ephesus are many. There are Temples to most of the female and some male gods recognized around the Agean along with temples to the Egyptian Godess Isis. This was in fact a female centered society.
Later we visited what is called the Seven Sleepers. Ledgend has it that when the Christians were being persecuted that seven christians hid in a cave and fell asleep, to awake and reappear from the cave 150 years later when Byzantium had recognized Christianity as the state religion. Here I am in the Ruin of the Basillica of the Seven Sleepers. This place like so many ancient sites has gone largely unexcovated. For instance this area is just beside the area that they actuall excovated and one floor up. I am standing on what began as the ground level.

Just a few meters away this is what you find from where they have excovated.

- We had no intention of stopping at Magneise, we were on the way to Priene and we just saw it. Couple of interesting things happened when we visited: 1 We met the lead archeologist for the current dig! He was a pretty cool charecter. We told him that we almost didn’t stop and he said almost everyone just passes it bye because there is very little excovated and above the ground surface, but that he was happy to show us around. 2 He invited us into the ancient public toilets and showed us the oldest know Lead Pipe. He showed us the head of a support column thay was a representation of Homer’s Odessy. He also told us about the ampitheater and stadium which were nowhere to be seen becauce they had been cut into the hills. Again the city was female centered with a normal and a huge Temple of Artimis. This place will likely be more important a discovery than Ephesus when everything is cleared if for no other reasons that it is clearly twice the size as Ephesus and the use of the Lead Pipe.

After a couple hours and some pictures we said our goodbyes and moved on to Priene.

Priene, what can I say but WOW! This place, like Ephesus used to be a port city but the river filled in the port with sand over time and cut off the city. Now you can barely see the sea anymore. The main temple here was the Athena Temple but there were both male and female, Agean and Egyptian temples and christian churches. There are multiple teams from multiple countries digging here. The Athena Temple was monumental and you can see the grandure even through the sea of cut stone and column pieces lying where they fell after an earthquake.

The Amphitheater is cut into a mountain side and has the addition of four seats of honor bordering the orchestra pit. The Agora, public meeting and market place, was huge, and bordered by small meeting areas that look like thrones. We ended this day exhausted from all the walking soaking our aching bodies in the Agean Sea.
We tried to take it easy the next day and spent half of it with İbrahim Abi (big brother), at his farm. This is me İbrahim and İbrahim Abi sitting to eat breakfast.
This is Jale picking Çeftali (Peaches). The biggest and tastiest peaches I ever had!

We ended the day strolling through the House of the Virgin Mary. There is actually a lot of circumstantial and a good bit of factual evidence that this house turned little church is the place where the Mother of Jesus Christ lived after the Crusifiction till she died.

There was so much more that happened on the Holiday but I’ll save it for another day. I hope you enjoyed the read because I thoroughly enjoyed the experience!

As usual, should you find yourself angered with me over what I say or who I am, I ask you to ask yourself why. If you look within you will probably find it. I love you back no matter what.

To my friends and family, Love and kindness all your days.

To my children All the love in the world!


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