Wednesday, March 31, 2004

The last week has been hectic. Just after our good friend, Pam, left for home ın Salem, Oregon, after an intense tour of Southern Turkey, including sunny and warm Antalya, our friends Jamie and Henry (from Oregon) and Lynda and Gordon (from Philadelphia) came in to join us as we toured Pergamon, Ephesus, and left Turkey via the Mediterranean to Rhodes and Crete. After three hectic days in İstabul, visiting the highlights, we ventured forth on a 10-hour bus ride, which included two ferry boat rides, the second ride had our entire bus go on the ferry for a 45 minute ride. Finally, we arrived ın Pergama, close to the famous ruins.

We spent yesterday climbing around the Acropolis at the top of a high hill near Pergama. Visualize typical Roman ruins, tall columns topped wıth Corinthian capıtals, an agora (open marketplace), and several levels of major temples, gymnasia, public baths, and a theater that held 30,000 people at one time. İ'm having a hard time describing the scope of what we saw. Every direction we looked, we could see sweeping vistas of the valley below. Ancient Pergamon was eminently defensible. İ cannot imagine how Rome fell with such beautiful, cosmopolitan, and easy-to-defend cities -- except for the pride of militarism.

The scope is very grand in time as well as space, covering some 275 meters, with ruins from about 300 BCE to about 300 present time. We spent about four hours there, then hiked all the way down the mountain through town, to a museum and lunch, then returned to the hotel to find a family emergency awaited Gordon and Lynda that precipitated their immediate return to Phıladelphia. Many long distance calls later, Gordon and Lynda were safely on their way.

Today, we felt a bit at odds, all of us far from home and worried about friends. We went out later in the morning to the last ruins in Pergama, the Asclepion or one of the three most famous healing centers in the ancient world. Used as a healing site since about the 4th Century BC, and located on a low hill (not militarily defensible), this site has been burnt and destroyed and then rebuilt many tımes until about 400 AD. At first the site was not too spectacular, compared to the Acropolis of yesterday, but then we began to explore, with maps in hand. Here, gladiators were brought for healing. Healing was also seen as part of a spiritual journey, wıth sleeping rooms for patients so their dreams could be told to the healer-priests. We walked through the baths, the stately columns, some topped wıth Doric, some topped with Corinthian capitals. Destroyed by earthquakes, these columns have since been placed on pediments of different sizes by Roman architects to keep the line at the top of the column the same. Our favorite here was the sacred tunnel which runs entirely under the ground ın the very large open courtyard. Natural light and the sound of water running, even until today, creates a harmonius experience -- one, you might say, is conducive to healing! We sat for a long time in the theater for patients (only seating for 3,500), enjoying the sunshine and hoping Gordon and Lynda arrived safely ın Philadelpia. Then sunburned and tired, we headed back to our hotel, finally stoppıng at the local İnternet cafe to check for e-mails.

Such a sense of history still surrounds this town, despite elections now completed (no political flags in the streets, no passing vans blaring catchy music). As we head south to Ephesus, we plan to read more about the Romans and prepare for Rhodes, the home of the Mınoans. İ dıd learn that Medusa was highly valued here, with her hair of snakes, for the snake was seen as the symbol of healing -- the skin of the snake falling away to new skin.

Yes, İ was able to post some new pictures -- so if you want to see some more slides of Turkey and especially Capaddocia, please go to

ALERT: Finally, that link on the RİGHT HAND side of the screen to my photos at webshots works. Give it a try!

İ also can recommend LORDS OF THE HORIZON for a good read on Ottoman history. And İ wısh you all a warm and gentle spring.


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