We visited three, Ancient Greek cities with Tuğrul again Tuesday. He and Mario, the driver, picked us up at 8:45 am and returned us to our apartment at 6:30 pm. The humidity was probably near 100%, but it was worth it. The sites are amazing, especially with Tuğrul’s explanations.
The photo below has nothing to do with Tuesday’s journeys, but I wanted to include a few photos from the other day in Kusadasi. Laurel and I were in a store buying sunglasses while Charlie sat outside with some local merchants. One of the men gave Charlie this beaded, Turkish key chain. Charlie makes friends easily. 🙂
We bought some Turkish delight (“Lokum” in Turkish) the other day. It’s a candy that’s kind of a marshmallow/Jello combo. When Laurel was three or four years old, Wayne read her the entire Chronicles of Narnia (over the course of a few months). Laurel loved the books and talked about the characters for years. A couple years later, Wayne read some of the books to her again. That’s what I was thinking about as we ate Turkish Delight looking out at the Aegean Sea since Turkish Delight features prominently in one of the stories.
As we drove to Priene, we came to the town of Söke where Mario bought some tasty pastries (or so I’m told – like the baklava, I couldn’t partake because of the wheat.) for everyone. There are wheat fields near Söke, and the grain is processed in town, making the area known for delicious baked goods. The next town is known for its cotton production and has an enormous sculpture of a cotton plant in the town center. As we drove on, we saw field after field of cotton which will soon be harvested. We also saw huge vats/silos for cottonseed oil.
Then it was on to Priene, an ancient city that predates Ephesus and that Tuğrul told us has more Greek character than Roman. Here, as in Ephesus, the Menderes River (Meander is a river in Greek mythology and is the patron deity of the Menderes River.) deposited silt, thus moving the harbor far away and causing the city to be abandoned. Priene is in ruins because many of its supporting structures were removed to be used in the next settlements. What’s left is magnificent and humbling though. I’m trying to remember everything Tuğrul told us…Priene was a major port city 2,500 years ago and had temples throughout the city to accommodate not only its Greek inhabitants but its visitors as well.
Laurel & Charlie with Tuğrul at Priene
Temple of Athena, Goddess of Wisdom
This temple for Dionysus, god of wine and theater, is attached to the amphitheater. The Byzantines turned this temple into a church which they then abandoned by 1300 although I didn’t think anyone was living here after the harbor was silted, so I’m not really sure how that works.
This sign describes the Byzantine changes to Dionysus’ Temple. As I was reading it again, I saw the word “narthex” which reminded me of what Tuğrul told us last week. Narthex is a plant that we saw growing near the ruins at Ephesus. He said it was used for lighting in ancient times. Even when the fire is seemingly extinguished, the fire will burn again days later if you blow on the plant a couple times. Because these plants were eventually used to light churches, a church’s entryway is called the narthex.
This is the top of a water clock in the amphitheater. Water clocks allowed people to keep time even after the sun had set and they couldn’t use the sun dial.
The ivy engraving on this chair in the amphitheater represents love. Ivy’s heart-shaped leaves are where we get our modern symbol for love.
When Laurel saw this “Agora” (market) sign, she remembered the word “agoraphobia,” a fear of being in a crowd or in certain other public places. Learning these Greek words and etymologies reminded me of the father in the movie, My Big, Fat, Greek Wedding. He’s driving his daughter and her friend somewhere and tells the girl that all words have a Greek root. He asks her to tell him a word so he can tell her the etymology. She gives him one…”Kimono, kimono, kimono. Ha! Of course! Kimono is come from the Greek word himona, is mean winter. So, what do you wear in the wintertime to stay warm? A robe. You see: robe, kimono. There you go!”
I guess I better not include so many photos for the next places, or I’ll never be finished with this post.
After leaving Priene, we walked around an abandoned (mostly) Greek town. This is not an ancient one but one with stone houses built in the late 1800’s that the Greeks left when there was the population exchange after Ataturk came to power.
Some of the houses have been repaired by a wealthy businessman who occupies one of them. The area is so romantic and beautiful it doesn’t seem real.
After our walk through this neighborhood, we visited the local museum which is the restored schoolhouse where they have many local, taxidermied animals, including the Anatolian leopard which is probably extinct – having not been seen in the nearby national park in 25 years.
Then it was off to a lunch of fish (Sea bass and…I forgot the smaller fish name.) and breaded calamari at a place Tuğrul knew well before driving to Miletus to view more awe-inspiring ruins.
The amphitheater at Miletus was added onto over the course of centuries. The Greeks built the original with the lower seating. The Romans added on. The Turks added on to the top.
Another Temple to Athena is visible in this photo from Miletus where the ruins cannot be unearthed so quickly as the earth keeps claiming them again. This area is now swampy much of the year (Note the orange-brown muck.) thus making excavation of further ruins difficult.
We walked along a row of olive trees which can live for over a thousand years. Olives and olive oil were so integral to the Greeks’ and Romans’ lives that damaging a tree was punishable by death, according to Tuğrul.
After walking the grounds as well as the museum at Miletus, it was off to Didyma to see the Temple of Apollo.
The face of Medusa was carved into pieces of the marble (now on the ground) that went over the columns of Apollo’s temple. Medusa warded off bad spirits and bad emotions such as jealousy before people entered. The eye of Medusa is a popular amulet in Turkey with the “eye” jewelry and household wallhangings for sale everywhere.
We walked all around and inside the Temple of Apollo and saw the small area that served as the residence for the oracles, the women who predicted the future and who were partly inspired by the opium vapors they inhaled as they slept.
Tuğrul explained some of the differences between Greek and Roman architecture, including the fact that the Greeks liked to imitate nature, to some extent, with their building. The carving at the top of each pillar was unique instead of the uniformity that the Romans preferred. They also used Fibonacci’s sequence (which didn’t have that name yet but was observable by the Ancient Greeks) for building scale as nature does.
It’s going on 1 am here, so I better get to bed. I wanted to take advantage of the good Internet connection I was getting tonight since I never know when I’m going to get a decent signal.