A day betwixt ruins

You could imagine Hieropolis perfectly.

The moon is full, the tombs and stones either recently hewn from the mountains, or old enough to hold layers of moss and several cracks and chips. A few of the oldest tombs were eerily empty, with spooky dark openings, raided a hundred or so years ago for the riches held within the curse-bound sarcophagi. Trees of a few types, maybe olives, swayed in the dark breeze.  A crow cackled, the rock carvings glistened dully or spread murky shadows. Hundreds of tombs scattered across the hill, some lonely, some with company, with their chiselled inscriptions in Greek confusion,  bearing secrets of people and riches.

Now in 2012, it’s a little different in parts. All the tombs are old and cracked, chipped and mossified. Now all the tombs are empty, big cracked openings showing where the daring thieves hacked it open, not afraid of the possible chances of being cursed for stealing the deceased’s goods within. Trees are still there, the olives the only ones still from the graveyard’s heyday. Crows and birds still cackled and popped, the rock carved in now dull, once-beautiful, ancient carvings still give wonderful stories with their detail or colours. Instead of a few hundred, 1,200 empty little buildings and boxes serving for the dead are clumped instead of scattered across the hill. Greek words, though the tablets and stones are faded and broken, are still there. Everything still bears secrets, although they may be more mystical, imaginary ones.

And the town of Hieropolis could be easily envisaged in its glory day as well. Tall fat towers, the olive oil grinders pounding and twisting away to create their famous oil, arches in fine ivory stone arcing away above the heads of busy or lazy citizens and travellers. Grooves created by a travel of chariots going to and from the city make it obvious as to where to avoid placing your toes. Shadows created life. Water flashed up high and wide and glorious in the fountain. Simply beautiful pillars and columns, mainly Iconic and Corinthian, held up the roofs over the public bathrooms and other places. People talked, people laughed, kids ran, all ages played Backgammon, women sat and weaved baskets or helped the men with the olive oil making.

Life and work and love and life again. The whole place, though it’s now in ruin, shines of the three words. I love how Hieropolis is so glorious even though it hangs in ruins. It used to be, but it still is, even if it is a little different to what is used to be. If I closed my eyes and fingered a column head or a wall or pillar, I could imagine the feeling of it all when it was alive. Like what I wrote above. (of course, one feels really ridiculous when you have your eyes shut and your just standing there. But! Ah-hah! That’s why I wear sunnies!! Heeheehee)

One of my main highlights of the place were the beautiful columns, (does anyone else here ever say it as it’s spelled??). This is the first place I’ve seen incredibly intact column capitols (capitols are the top piece) –Iconic (the ones with scroll or ram-horn carvings at each corner), Corinthian (the acanthus leaf (Greek plant) floral carvings) and the Domitian (which are simply the plain pillars with no decorative capitol). Columns are separated by their capitol, not the body. Like I said before, there were mainly Iconic and Corinthian, which of course are my most favourites out of the three –as you probably could have guessed. To think that they’ve survived soooooo looong in such awesome condition! (Granted, some conditions are better (much better) than others, but who counts the details??)  Many photos and hopeful sketches to be done there.

From the main square we could see the hill where Saint Phillip was crucified; upside-down on the cross because he didn’t want to die just as Christ had. We could see the very hill –imagine that day! We could see the theatre for the town, mostly encrusted rubble and grass, but on the faint road to recovery. And not far from the boundaries of the city of Hieropolis stretches the Teratines, a small valley full of calcium carbonate. Nowadays this place is titled Pamukkale. Both plateaus are jotting and jutting out and everywhere. It looked like snow (not that I’d know anything about such stuff) but it was not at all cold so… scratch that example off the blog post. It was very beautiful countryside.

Then to top my day dad, Josh, Jess and I went and saw a gooooorrgeous Roman theatre. It was slightly marred by the reconstruction poles behind the stage, but it actually added a rather out-of-place comical look, if you looked at it right. It was probably medium-large in the status of Greeco-Roman/Roman theatres, and it was absolutely in wonderful shape and condition. Behind the stage was probably a little plainer than the one at Aspendos but it was still an ivory splendour. I really loved it.

(Of course) LOTS of photos were taken there with the energetic crew. Lots of booing at the performance, lots of smiles and poses, and as a Must Have: plenty of Toyota Jump photos. I’m really enjoying the theatres we see on this trip. And it makes it awesomer to be on it with a great guide, bus driver, bus and family. That of course helps. 😉

The Cultures of the Ephesians

Today {Thursday 26th} was a very culturally interesting day.  Turkey is known as the crossroads of East and West, with a culmination of eastern traditions and more modern, western ways, rapidly taking the lead.  Today was no exception.  We discovered:

Impressive Roman ruins of Ephesus (see gallery below)

African monkeys

The British Beatles crossing the road

 

Ancient Greek philosophers thinking way too hard, (some obviously had no ideas at all! and

 

Australian larrikins singing their folklore of rebellion and suicide (Waltzing Matilda) in an acoustically-tested theatre!

 

 

Before we left the city we stayed in last night, we drove past Laodicea, one of the seven Churches mentioned in Revelations.  There wasn’t much to see from the gate, but it was still interesting to think that real people and Christians actually lived there.

We drove on to Ephesus, stopping in a nearby town for a tasty lunch of meatballs and a Turksh shave.  For Dad, that is!  That’s another story to be told in another time.

When we arrived in Ephesus we walked down the main streets.  Everytime one street ended and another one began, a pillar with a god or hero etched in would be there to symbolise it.  We saw the pulic toilets  – which are a work of guinus.  You can thank the Romans that we don’t chuck our sewage out the window like the middle ages’ did; the Romans invented the plumbing system where fresh water would run underneath the toilets and carry the waste away, stopping plagues and diseases from breaking out.  There was a ‘parliament house’ there, which looked like a little amphitheatre.  It could hold up to 170 shire members, which is a lot compared to how many Kununurra would have show up!

The library was beautiful and at least from what I could tell today, it would have beenthe site that made all Ephesians proud, back in the day.  Opposite it was the brothel, and apparently, there is a secret tunnel underneath leading to the library.  Husbands would give an excuse of going to the library to their wives, only to sneak out the secret tunnel to visit the brothel.  It was also a place of escape if the wives caught on and made a visit to the brothel.

The streets were originally marble.  Parts of the marble left still have their grip grooves, which is a good idea, because the marble is slippery to walk on!  I think Ephesus would have been a beautiful city, with the houses climbing up the sides of the fortress-looking hills (they are still unexcavated), looking over the marble streets, bustling with people.  Either side of the streets, in between the pillars, were the markets, which I imagine would have added quite a lot of colour and noise to the area.  They were a thriving town, with a magnificent theatre, plenty of rich houses, a bath and gymnasium, a smaller theatre-looking building for the government, and with the natural hot springs nearby.

The temple of Artemis wasn’t too far off either.  It was obviously a religious place, what with its own goddess, and it made the book of Ephesians, and the ministry of Paul (Acts 19) that much more real.  To think of the Christians that actually walked those streets, to see the same theatre that Paul addressed the angry crowd, to think of Paul and Epapharus who gave so much of themselves to these people – it was exciting to be in the same place.  And to remember parts of Ephesians, where Paul exhorted them to get rid of sexual immorality (aka the trips through that tunnel) and showed them how husbands and wives were to treat each other; or where Paul wrote in Colossians, which was nearby and would have circulated to the Ephesians; to not just accept any old philosophy, and how that would have applied to what and how they read the scrolls in their library.  Christianity would have flown in the face of that place, the city where Artemis was their god.  People actually took that risk.

I don’t have an Artemis outside my bedroom window.   I don’t live in a time and place where it could be dangerous to believe in a different God to theirs, when the whole city worships it. But there are other battles to fight –a biblical worldview, a just and honest government, for families to thrive together, for people to live with integrity and character in their job and personal lives, and for a rebuilding of the culture for good.  Will we take the risks?