March 23,2013

Patricia surveying the temple of Artemis

The weather today was bright and sunny most of the time. That was good because we were outside for quite a while when we made our four site stops.

I’m only going to be able to put in a few pictures this evening because the Wi-Fi here at the Colossae Thermal hotel leaves a lot to be desired.

We left Izmir at 8:00 and were quickly out of the city and driving through the hills on our way to Manisa (Magnesia). Starting with the first part of today’s drive everything was green and fresh. There has been a lot of rain in the area over the past few days and there was a lot of standing water in most places but the roads were clear and dry.

Niobe, the Weeping Woman (or not)

Our stop at Magnesia was short but interesting. It was one of the Lydian cities that prospered for many years and is referenced in several ancient texts. It was particularly noted for a rock which resembles—supposedly—a weeping woman. It is named Niobe. We walked around the rock and it does look like a woman if you stand in the right place.

Manisa is also the location of the Muradiye mosque. It was designed by the architect Sinan and built in 1585. Its scale is much smaller than the Süleymaniye mosque in Istanbul which was also designed by Sinan. Like the Blue Mosque, it has many Iznik tiles.

Walls and windows at Muridye Mosque

The inside is open and the windows, walls, and domes are in perfect proportion. We spent time inside and out taking pictures and hearing about its history.

We drove from Manisa to Sardis. That took about an hour and a lot of the trip was through mountains. The site of Sardis, like many of the larger cities in the area, was occupied since at least Neolithic times. There are sources of water and the land is fertile. Sardis is famous for, among other things, developing the idea of coins of standard value. They had a supply of high quality gold and they refined the ore and made coins that were accepted in a very wide area. We spent our time at three different locations in Sardis. The city was very large and only 1% of it has been excavated.

The temple of Artemis has been partially reconstructed but even the part that is just the pieces lying where they were found was interesting. Its peak time was from around 200 B.C. to sometime in the 300s A.D. Like many religious sites it was rebuilt several times. The original excavators, we were told, badly wanted it to be a Classical-era Greek temple,

A view of part of the temple of Artemis at Sardis

but what they discovered was a Roman-era temple. We learned a great deal about history and construction techniques, but we also got to walk among the wildflowers and clamber up the hillside while we enjoyed the sun and lack of wind. The temple site was really impressive.

We moved from there to the area where the gold was processed. We could not go among the ruins, but we could see where the gold was melted and cast. To get there we walked through a field that was covered by rich, green, spring growth. When the Persians conquered Sardis, they took the idea of coins back with them.

I mentioned that there had been rain and there was standing water. In a demonstration that boys will be boys wherever they live, we saw two little boys who could not have been more than five throwing the biggest rocks they could carry into a puddle to create big splashes. They were having a great time.

We ate at a roadside “restaurant” in the village of Sardis. There were only 3 or 4 things on the menu. You could have lentil soup, goulash (as they called it), or some chicken thing. We sat outside next to the highway and ate and enjoyed being outside. The lunch total for Patricia and I (soup, goulash, and su (water)) was 13 tyl (Turkish lira) which is about $6.50.

Then we walked down the highway to visit the Roman gymnasium and baths. The part that has been restored is really something. The baths are in a 2-storey building that is

Sardis: Gymnasium and Baths. Look a the scale

probably 40 feet high with large columns and some of the walls were covered in marble. Sardis had a substantial Jewish population before and during the Roman era and there is a large synagogue attached to the baths. Again we stood outside and learned and then wandered around the site and enjoyed what we discovered and the great weather.

We spent several hours at Sardis and saw so much and learned so much that we didn’t even get out of the bus to observe the MMBS (Massive Mud and Brick Structure) on the way out of town.

After Sardis it was time to head for our hotel. We got back on the bus for the 140km (87 mile) trip which took about 3 hours with a short cay (tea) break. That’s right: we averaged not much more than 30 miles an hour. We stated out on the foothills of a mountain range, went through a valley, up and over another range and through another valley to get to the Colossae Thermal Hotel. The roads were good, but very curved and there was a lot of time when the bus strained to get up the hills.

The hotel is a tourist hotel. There were 24 tourist buses parked outside. Dinner was a buffet in a room of about 1000 people. We are here for only one night.

Pictures, if I get any posted, will be on the pictures page.

Below is a map of our route as tracked by my phone—once I remembered to turn it on. You can see a larger version and see more details by clicking on the link. [Sardis is called “Sart” on the map, which is labeled in Turkish.]

View Larger Map

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