March 25, 2013
The weather was a little overcast in the morning and it became progressively more overcast and windy and even a bit rainy as we traveled from Aydin (our hotel) to Alinda to Lagina to Stratonikea and finally into Bodrum.
Reasonable weather in the first part of the day was important because we were out and hiking for a little more than 3 hours. That is because Alinda, our first stop, is a little-known fortified city on a high hill. The bus took us up to a starting point and most of us walked up to the high point of the city and back down into the town of Karpuzlu. John Lee’s description was that it was an easy hike, but his standards are a little different from most of the rest of our group. He also described the “walk” as mostly downhill, but the initial section was more than a little uphill. John had not planned to visit the upper part of the city but he/we took a wrong turn right at the beginning and we did climb up to the top.
Alinda is almost completely un-excavated and we were able to move around freely. There are a few paths made by people, but more paths left by cows and sheep. [The cows and sheep leave things behind that we haven’t seen at the other sites.] In addition to the cows and sheep, we ran into a small herd of horses. You should imagine walking through land that is in use for animals that just happens to have ruins that are more than 2,500 years old popping up out of the ground here and there. Most of the ruins are still underground, of course. We did climb over and around fortification walls and along what were at one time streets. I cannot figure out how they got the large stone blocks used in the constructions of the walls and towers up the hill because Alinda is way up and even the bus had trouble coming up the road. There were springs on the hill and the people who lived there built many cisterns to hold water. Now those cisterns are holes in the ground, sometimes covered and sometimes not, which means we had to keep our eyes opened as we walked. As we went, we would stop from time to time to learn something from John L or John K or Yildirim. Because the site is mostly untouched, there was plenty of room for speculation about what was what or why things were placed where they were. It was a lot of fun. As we moved through the town—which at this point is mostly a hill with trees and patches of grass—we heard sawing. After looking around we saw someone in an olive tree using a traditional saw to prune an olive tree. Under the tree were 3 cows eating the small branches that had been cut down and another man who was helping with the pruning. John L (who speaks Turkish) and Yildirim (who is Turkish) spoke with them and translated for us. The men were happy to describe what they were doing. We asked if we could take pictures and they said sure. Then they said they were on Facebook so we exchanged electronic information and they will look at this website to see the pictures we took.
As we moved down the hill we found a small theater. It was mostly surrounded by trees but in moderately good repair. John L thinks it was probably built by the Greeks after Alexander’s “visit” in 334 B.C. Even further down, and quite close to Kapulzu, is the old stoa or market place.
In what had once been the open market area a few cows were grazing on the very green grass. One long wall and many columns are still standing. As we walked through Karpulzu John pointed out a house that had several pieces of the old city included in its walls. For years people have reused the materials from Alinda, and presumably in other places, to build their own environments.
On the way to our next archeological site at Lagina we stopped for lunch in a small town where we had s simple lunch of Turkish food. What made the restaurant unique was that cars parked directly in front of the restaurant would get washed as the people were inside eating lunch. Some of us from New Mexico were surprised by the apparent waste of water.
We drove on to Lagina, which has a temple complex dedicated to Hecate. Unlike the other temples we have visited, this one was not part of a town. It was associated with Stratonikeia, but that is about 10km away.
Some restoration work has been done here but it looks a lot like a three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle. Some of the temple has been restored and John L showed us how some of the materials had been taken from the temple and turned into a Christian church. That got us talking again about transitions and “borderlands” where things are changing and no one political or religious system holds absolute sway and the various entities have to compromise and incorporate elements from the other in order to survive.
The weather was gradually deteriorating and becoming more windy, a little bit colder, and spitting rain. Nevertheless, we were able to wander the site, jumping over puddles and climbing on the temple stairs and moving about the rows and rows of marble pieces that perhaps someday will be put back together. This was another site that isn’t visited much, particularly at this time of year, and we had the place to ourselves.
I mentioned that Stratonikeia was 10 km away. I should have added “as the crow flies.” Since we were not crows and the bus can’t fly, we had to take the modern road to that site.
Stratonikeia was built/renamed sometime in the middle of the 3rd century B.C. by a Seleucid king who supposedly named it after his wife. There was already a town (Idrias) there at the time. Romans built a large gymnasium there and we saw some of the unearthed and restored ruins. For me, the most interesting part of Stratonikeia was that in later times, a town was built on top of it. The “new” town used some of the original town’s material to make new buildings. Now, however, the new town is almost completely abandoned. Yildirim remembers visiting in the 1970s when the town (I’d say village) was still vibrant but now it feels like a ghost town. It was kind of eerie to walk down the streets and see a mixture of Greek/Roman ruins and abandoned houses. Just behind the town is a mountain of tailings from the nearby open pit coal mine. The company is trying to plant trees and reclaim the area, but it looks just like what it is. Supposedly, the town was abandoned because the water supply was polluted or interrupted by the mining operation. The mining company built a new place for the people and we were assured that they were all taken care of.
On the edge of the town, where the bus was parked and where the abandoned mosque stood, there is a small café. On the way in the owner asked us if we wanted tea and he asked us again on the way out. It seemed like the right thing to do as we left so we all crowded inside and had a cup of inexpensive tea and listened while Yildirim translated his version of how Stratonikeia got its name.
The café seemed like a very lonely place and I can’t imagine how the owner can make enough money to keep it going.
We reached Bodrum after sunset and settled in.
I have posted some of the pictures of today on the pictures page.
Below is a partial track of our route today. For some reason I don’t always get a complete record of where we have been even though the app says it is recording. But today’s record does have details of our walk through Alinda and Lagina. Just go to the larger version and turn on the satellite imagery and zoom in. I’ll tell you, though, that the satellite imagery doesn’t give a feel for the hilly nature of the Alinda part of the day.