Category Archives: Places in Turkey

Lycian League — A Model for the Founding “Fathers” of the USA

QUICK — what was the Lycian League?  Not many of us know, but Alexander Hamilton and James Madison knew!  Yes, the “Lycian Confederation” is mentioned four times in the Federalist Papers that were produced between 1787–1788 (#9, 16, 45).  Over 2,000 years ago it met in Patara—the same place where Paul and Luke changed ships on their way to Jerusalem (Acts 21:1-3).

TWTQPTBT01

View of the exterior of the reconstructed Council Chamber (Bouleuterion) at Patara
January 2014 — Click on Image to Enlarge/Download

So what was the Lycian Confederation/League?  First, Lycia was/is a geopolitical region located along the Mediterranean Coast of modern Turkey, often called the Turquoise Coast­ because of its beauty! (see map below) The 23 cities that made up the Confederation/League were located along the Mediterranean coast or in the nearby rugged Taurus Mountains (but the number of cities varied from time to time).

TWTQPTBT03

View of the interior of the Council House at Patara
Click on Image to Enlarge/Download

The Lycian Confederation is the first known democratic union in history!  One of the features of this Confederation is that they committed themselves to be governed by a central assembly (Greek: synedrion) that they themselves elected.  However, in fairness, the larger cities were allotted more representatives than the smaller ones.  Large cities such as Xanthos, Patara, Myra, Pinara, Tlos, and Olympos were allotted three representatives each (the maximum allowed).

The Lycian Confederation met at Patara—almost certainly in the Bouleuterion pictured above.  It was thus here (at the out-of-the-way site of Patara) that proportional representative government first got its start.  And, it was not until the founding of the United States (2,000 years later!!) that this concept was revived in the US House of Representatives (note the semi-circular seating arrangement of its chamber)!!

TWTQPH22

The Rugged Taurus Mountains and the Mediterranean Coast of Lycia
The cities of the Lycian Confederation were located along the coast or in the mountains
Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download

The league itself may go back to around 205 B.C.  This early form of the league would have had the power to decide questions of war, peace, and alliances.   In 168 B.C., while still under Roman control, the Romans allowed these cities to still assemble together to govern themselves as a unit—but the power to decide questions of war, peace, and alliances were now Rome’s prerogative.

This body elected persons who administered the Lycian League for a year at a time.  The council elected judges.  Voted proportional taxes.  A league court decided disputes between the cities.

189_PataraMapI have posted 5 photos of this historic meeting place on my web site,
both before and after it was excavated/reconstructed.

For a great summary article on the Lycian League and Patara see the article in Saudi Aramco World 2007.

Photos of the following cities of the Confederation are available:  Patara, Xanthos, Myra, and Phaselis.

Jewish Presence at Hierapolis (Menorahs)

The important city of Hierapolis is mentioned only once in the New Testament.

Epaphras, who is one of you . . . is working had for you and for those at Laodicea and Hierapolis.
(Colossians 4:12-13; NIV)

Epaphras evidently founded the churches at Colossae, Laodicea, and Hierapolis that are located in the Lycus Valley—possibly during the long stay of Paul at Ephesus.  For a variety of reasons we would expect some type of Jewish presence in these cities.

Although actual synagogues have not been found (Colossae had not been excavated) a variety of menoroth (menorahs; seven branch candlesticks) have been found engraved on tombs, a sarcophagus, and a column indicating a Jewish presence in the area.

TWCSHRNC12

Tomb 163d Dating to the First Century A.D.
Note the menorah (seven branch candelabra) located
to the left and above the green plant
Click on Image to Enlarge/Download

TWCSHRNC10

The family tomb on which the menorah is engraved
The remains of 31 individuals were found in the tomb
Click on the Image to Enlarge/Download

To view Tomb 148b with its very faint menorah and lulav Click Here.

Carl Rasmussen Copyright and Contact

Marble lid of a Jewish sarcophagus with a menorah
and a faint Greek inscription
Click on Image to Enlarge/Download

192_HierapolisMap031026

Visit All of Turkey in 2 Hours?

On a recent visit to Turkey, my wife and I had a few extra days in Istanbul and we decided to visit a place that we had never been to before.    The place is called Miniatürk Park and is located about a 35-minute bus ride northwest of the bridges that cross the Golden Horn.

A general view of one area of the Miniatürk with people—for perspective. In the center is a model of the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, below it a mosque complex, and above it to the right, the long red building, is the Church of Mary at Ephesus.

Miniatürk is a 15-acre site that displays 1/25 scale models of 131 structures found mainly in Turkey.  Sixty–one models are from Istanbul, 58 from Anatolia, and 12 from outside of Turkey.  The time periods represented are from earliest times up to the present.  By way of comparison, the model of Second Temple Jerusalem at the Israel Museum is on a 1/50 scale.

There is a wonderful  Panorama of the Park at the end of this Post!

Several examples of the models follow.

View of the Süleymaniye Complex in Istanbul that features a large mosque with four minarets that was designed and built by Sinan, the architect of Suleiman the Magnificent.

Note the three structures this side of the mosque. The structure closest to the mosque is where the Tomb of Suleiman (builder of the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem) is located.  The one in the middle is the Tomb of his wife Roxelana.  The structure on the wall is the Dal–ül Kuran—a place where the proper reading of the Koran was taught.

View of the famous Zeus Altar that was discovered at Pergamum (the Throne of Satan?).

To see the altar of Zeus as reconstructed in the Staatliche Museum in Berlin Click Here. The altar is rectangular in shape measuring 118 x 112 ft. [36 x 34 m].  To view the site of the altar at Pergamum Click Here.

To appreciate the full vista of the Panorama, click twice on image and scroll right and left. The image is 3,000 pixels wide!

Note the people walking around the 15-acre site that displays 1/25 scale models of 131 structures found mainly in Turkey. Sixty–one are from Istanbul, 58 from Anatolia, and 12 from outside of Turkey. The time periods represented are from earliest times up to the present.

To view additional images from Miniatürk Park Click Here.

 

 

The Gateway to Hell at Hierapolis

One of the most visited sites in Turkey is the UNESCO World Heritage Site at Hierapolis–Pamukkalle—famous for its glistening white travertine formations.  Hierapolis is a huge archaeological site and one of the places we like to visit is the Temple of Apollo and the nearby Plutonium.  Usually, we visited the following place that was considered to be the Plutonium.

View looking north-northwest at the foundations and the staircase that led up to the Temple of Apollo.

To the right of the foundations a small arch is visible, this is where many thought the Plutonium was located—detail below.

View looking at the remains of the “so–called” Plutonium that is located on the right side of the image—the “shell–shaped” opening.

However, in March of 2013 Francesco D’Andria, professor of classic archaeology at the University of Salento and excavator at Hierapolis announced that he had excavated the well–known, to ancient authors at least, Plutonium at Hierapolis—known as the gate to the Underworld.

This past January I made a special effort to find D’Andria’s excavations.  This site is located about 50 yards south-southeast of the Apollo Temple.  Unfortunately, the area is fenced off and is not yet open to the public.

View looking southeast at the recent excavations of the “New Plutonium.

Note the doorway on the lower left, and the reflections on the water partially visible in the center of the image. There are apparently five long stairs to the left of the water. Evidently, people could watch rites associated with the Plutonium from these stairs.  According to ancient authors poisonous vapors were emitted from the opening.

The following reconstructed image is from a very useful article in “seeker.com” that describes the discovery in detail.  The following view is from the opposite direction than the image above.

Artistic reconstruction of the Plutonium from “seeker.com.”

To read the extensive, descriptive article on the Plutonium Click Here.

Wednesday Weddings

As we have traveled in Israel and Turkey we have noticed that many about–to–be–married couples like to have a “photo shoot” at Antiquity Sites!  I thought I would share a few images that I have accumulated.

This past January (2017) we visited Laodicea on a beautiful day.  A bride and her groom were there as well—and they had their own priorities!

The blushing bride and the happy groom on the “Syrian Street” at Laodicea.

The “Syrian Street” at Laodicea.

Click Here for archaeological images of this street—if you are interested! ;-)!

A bride in the necropolis (city of the dead) of Hierapolis. She did not look too happy—it was an overcast day!@#@!

Bottles on the Chimneys = Marriageable Daughters?

In a village a few miles west of Hierapolis (Turkey) they evidently have the custom (according to our guides) of putting bottles on the chimneys of their houses to show that there are one, or more, daughters that are of marriageable age.

Note the bottles on the chimneys of this house.

It looks like there are two marriageable daughters live in this house.

Pergamum (Turkey) Library

One of my favorite places to visit in Turkey is the site of Pergamum.  Its dramatic citadel setting and the lower city and the Asclepion are fantastic.  When we visit the acropolis, our guides point to the general location of the “library.”

According to Strabo (xii.624) the library contained 200,000 volumes and was second in size only to the one in Alexandria Egypt—although many doubt that it really contained this many volumes. The volumes were carried off to Egypt by Mark Antony as a gift to Cleopatra after Julius Caesar had damaged the library in Alexandria.

This past fall I decided that I wanted to track down what actually still existed of the library that the Germans had excavated.  So, this past January I did.

View looking west at one of the four rooms of the Library (in the foreground) and the Courtyard of the Temple of Athena in the distance (see below).

Another view of the same room of the “Library.” On the right side of the image, the northeast corner of the large courtyard (temenos) of the Temple of Athena can be seen.

On the far wall of the library notice the “holes” in the wall. The excavators believe that these held dowels that in turn supported shelves on which the scrolls were kept. In this room, a large statue of the Athena was discovered.

This large marble statue of the goddess Athena was found in the Library. It is a copy of the one that was in the Parthenon in Athens!

The statue is now displayed in the room in the Pergamum Museum in Berlin where the entrance (propalea) of the Temple of Athena is located.

Well, the library itself was located at the northeastern corner of the temenos of the Sanctuary of Athena—the chief deity of Pergamum.  It was actually on the second “floor” of the north stoa of the temenos.

On the plan, the Temple of Athena is in the lower left, and the library is composed of the four rooms on the north labeled the “Bibliothek.” The Germans say it was entered from the upper, not the lower level.

View from the east looking west at the large courtyard associated with the Temple of Athena.  The Temple of Athena is in the distance, beyond the central tree.  To view see link below.

In the foreground (east) and on the right (north) notice the double row of columns. These Doric columns supported the roof of the porticos that surrounded the courtyard on three sides (north, east, and south).  The library was located on the platform on the far right side of the image.  It overlooked the courtyard.  (To view the temple of Athena, Click Here)

To view additional images of the acropolis of Pergamum including the Zeus Altar, the Temple of Trajan, the Theater, etc. Click Here.

Connections: Istanbul and Delphi

Today we spent time in Istanbul visiting the Hippodrome, the Blue Mosque, the Hagia Sophia, and the Archaeological Museum.

obelisk-and-serpentine-column

Istanbul: from the south end of the hippodrome looking north. The obelisk of Thutmose III and in the foreground the “Serpents’ Column” from Delphi. On the right is one of the six minarets of the “Blue Mosque.”  In the distance are two minarets of the Hagia Sophia.

When visiting the Hippodrome we “ooh and ah” at the obelisk of Thutmose III and  south of it the “Serpentine Column.”

serpentine-column-detail

A detailed view of the “Serpentine Column” from Delphi that is now located in the Hippodrome in Istanbul.

Constantine brought the Serpentine Column from Delphi (Greece) to his New Rome (Constantinople/Istanbul) after he had established his capital there.

Snake Delphi

An artist’s drawing of what the original column may have looked like. Note the “tripod” on top of the three serpents’ heads.

This column/tripod had three intertwined heads (see diagram above; two heads are now missing).    It originally stood near the Temple of Apollo at Delphi (Greece; see picture below).

altar-and-serpent-column

Delphi (Greece): view looking down on the remnants of the altar associated with the Apollo (just to the left of the two people in the lower right portion of the image). Just to the left of the altar is a square base on top of which a circular base rests. This is where the Tripod (Serpentine Column”) of the Plataeans rested.

The column and tripod were dedicated in 479 B.C.  They commemorated the victory of 31 Greek cities over the Persians in the battle at Plataea in 479 B.C.  One of its surviving heads is in the Archaeological Museum in Istanbul.

serpent-s-head

One of the three Serpents’ Heads that graced the Bronze Serpent Column that originally formed the base for a “trophy” that was dedicated to the god Apollo after the victory of the Greeks over the Persians in the battle of Plataea in 479 B.C.

The Archaeological Museum in Istanbul has been under renovation for over three years.  And during that time selected artifacts are on display in a narrow winding maze.  Unfortunately, most people pass by, without even noticing, the one remaining serpent’s head from the Serpentine Column.