Friday, August 6, 2010

Summer Snapshots - Mediterranean Cruise: Ephesus, Turkey

One of the stops we were most looking forward to on our cruise was the port of Kusadasi, Turkey which is near the ancient city of Ephesus.  Yes, this is the place where Paul visited and wrote his letter to the "Ephesians".  We shared a private tour guide with another couple from the cruise and got an in-depth look at this city and the surrounding area.

What we didn't realize is the vastness of the archeological gems that are found in Turkey.  It's a huge country that boasts a couple of the Ancient Wonders of the World: the Temple of Artemis near Ephesus and the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus (where the modern word "mausoleum" comes from).  We only got a taste of this country's culture and sights, which was enough to want to come back.

The basilica in Ephesus - contrary to my prior belief, the basilica refers to a roofed building usually with two parallel rows of columns that make three aisles for people to walk down.  In Roman cities, this is where the business was conducted.  This basic architectural design was the inspiration for many of the Catholic churches built later - thus, the name "basilica" is used.  Behind the basilica is a small amphitheater where the local senate met.

Street sign in Ephesus - this one tells us that there was a pharmacy  in this direction, due to the caduceus symbol.

Relief of the goddess of victory, Nike - yeah, like the shoes.

Visiting ruins in the Summer gets a little crowded.  This view allows you to get an idea of the pedestrian traffic (if you picture them in togas), as well as the extent of Ephesus.  Interestingly enough, this used to be a port city, where all of the green area in the distance up to the mountain was actually part of the ocean.

If you look at enough architecture, you see this come up in Greek-influenced cities.  I'm no expert, but I think it's a variation of the "Greek key design" which some call the "gammadion" because it resembles four of the Greek letter gammas.  There seems to be some debate on the meaning, but one camp argues that it has to do with the idea of infinity due to its recurring pattern.  Looking at a segment of the detail, it's not so difficult to see the Nazi swastika emblem emerge.  I know that the swastika also has eastern roots as well, but it was interesting to notice here.

Public toilet - it was unisex and there was a system of running water and a sewer system.  There was at least 50 spots all in a square, facing each other.  So yeah, men and women sat around and chatted it up while dropping D's. 

Dubbed "the largest puzzle in the world" these master stoneworkers are trying to piece together the pieces of marble that make up the interior walls of an upper-class home.

Ephesus is still being excavated, but in the past 10 years or so they have worked hard at uncovering these amazingly intact upper-class homes with preserved frescas on the walls and mosaic floors.  It was neat to get a better idea of what everyday life was like in the home.

Frescas and mosaics.

The library of Ephesus - a rare thing for that time.

The large amphitheater - in Acts Paul is talked out of making an appearance here to confront an angry crowd.  A riot was instigated by a local silversmith named Demetrius because he made idols for Artemis, which was the goddess of choice before Paul led many of the people to Jesus.  The riot eventually fizzles out and Paul sets out for Macedonia.  It is kind of neat to get a visual for some of the stories in the Bible - check out Acts 9 for the whole story.

"Milestones" - these stones were placed along the roads around Ephesus to let people know how far it was to other Roman cities.  I believe a stone was placed every thousand steps or so, thus the term 'milli' stone.

Ever seen one of the 7 Ancient Wonders of the World?  Well you have now!  These are the remnants of the "Temple of Artemis", which was plundered many times throughout history until all that's left is a pillar or two.  To add insult to injury, now a stork has made its nest on the remaining pillar.

If you're ever in Turkey, I would recommend our knowledgeable tour guide Ahmet.  The guy is passionate and very knowledgeable about Turkey.  Shoot us an email if you want his contact info.

The port city of Kusadasi, a more modern view of Turkey.
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