Back Seat of the Plane — Aerial Views of Istanbul

On airline flights I can typically put up with any seat assignment for 1 to 4 hours.  However, when I found out that on our one hour flight from Istanbul to Denizli (Turkey) that my wife and I were assigned seats in the second row from the back of the plane (window/center), near the lavatory, I was less than happy.

But, as we settled in, I noticed that the sky was clear, the window was relatively clean, and that there was no wing to block my view of the ground!  “Heh Mary, hand me my camera!”  Now all I needed was for the pilot to take the “right” flight path out of Istanbul on our way to Denizli.  Well, he/she did!  And we flew just west, then north, and then east of the Bosporus—and I was on the “right” side of the plane to see/photograph everything!  My dreams had come true!!  Here are a few images that I took on that flight.

View looking south southeast over Istanbul.

In the upper right of the image is the Sea of Marmara. The landmass in the lower portion of the image is European Istanbul. The land mass in the upper left is Asian Istanbul. The Bosphorous/Bosporus Strait separates these two continents.

The meandering “river” in the lower center of the image is the “Golden Horn” (river) that “flows” into the Bosporus. There are four bridges over the Bosporus—faintly visible.

View looking south over part of Istanbul where the Golden Horn enters the Bosporus.

In the upper portion of the image is the Sea of Marmara. The water on the left (east) side of the image is the Bosporus Strait. The “Golden Horn” (river) “flows” from right to left in the center of the image—entering the Bosporus. Note the three bridges that span the Golden Horn.

The landmass in the image is European Istanbul.

To view additonal images Click Here.

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The Temple of Aphrodite and the Upper Peirene Spring on the Acrocorinth at Corinth

The moral problems among the “saints” of the church of Corinth are well-known.  Writing of days prior to Paul, Strabo said that the Temple of Aphrodite owned one thousand temple–slaves and prostitutes!

Foundational Remains of the Temple of Aphrodite on the Summit of the Acrocorinth

Thus the reputation of Corinth was well–known.  It is not probable that interested persons would climb 1700 feet to the temple of Aphrodite (the goddess of love) to visit a prostitute, but her temple was located there.

The “Fountain House” of the Upper Peirene Spring on the Summit of the Acrocorinth

Besides the several springs (Peirene Fountain, Glauke Fountain, Lerna Spring by the Asclepion) that were located near the site of Corinth itself, there actually was a powerful, not too frequently visited,  spring on the top of the Acrocorinth call the “Upper Peirene Spring.”  The basic remains visible in the image above date to the Hellenistic Period (third to first century BC).

For additional views of the remains of the Temple of Aphrodite Click Here.

For additional views of the Upper Peirene Spring Click Here.

The Divine Name — YHWH — at Mt. Gerizim

I have posted on my web site some images of the archaeological remains that have been excavated on Mount Gerizim—the Samaritan’s holy mountain.

Mount Gerizim on the left (south) and Mount Ebal on the right (north)
For a higher resolution version of this image Click Here

In addition to the images of the archaeological remains, I have posted three images of inscriptions, among many,  that were found on Mount Gerizim and that are now on display in the Good Samaritan(!) Inn Museum—on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho.

The Divine Name YHWH carved in stone — from the excavations at Mount Gerizim

One of these stone inscriptions actually contains the divine name Yhwh in Paleo-Hebrew script and might be of interest to some of you.

To view additional images of the remains on Mount Gerizim Click Here.

Only in Turkey: Food + Antiquities = Bliss!

Well, two of my favorite things to do are to eat and to visit antiquity sites.  We recently were on a “Tutku–Mark Wilson” tour visiting the Turkish city of Bodrum.  This is ancient Halicarnassus where the Mausoleum of Mausolus, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, was located.

The local Super Market that we stopped at.

Snacks and Ice Cream are on the way.  I can hardly wait!

Wait a minute!!  What is this in the back of the store???

Yup, a tomb from the 3rd century B.C.

This tomb had 6 burial chambers and although it was robbed in antiquity, some human bones, amphora, and other pots were found when it was excavated!

Really now, does it get any better than this?  Food + Antiquities = Bliss!

David vs. Goliath — The Valley of Elah

One of my favorite places to take students when in Israel is to the top of Tel Azekah.  From there, there is a wonderful view of the lowlands (aka Shephelah) and especially of the Valley of Elah.  From this vantage point one can envision the geographical setting of the battle between David and Goliath (1 Samuel 17).

View from the Top of Tel Azekah. My interpretation of the geographical setting of the Battle between David and Goliath (1 Samuel 17).

The Philistines, moving eastward from Ekron and Gath, camped at Ephes Dammim between Socoh and Azekah (17: 1). The Israelites, defending the approaches to the hill country, camped on the north side of the valley (vv. 2– 3), probably east of the Philistine camp.

The encounter between David and Goliath took place in the broad valley itself, from which David took five smooth stones for his sling. Emboldened by David’s example, Saul’s troops successfully attacked the Philistines. The latter at first fled northward, on the Shaaraim road in the valley east of Azekah, and then north of Azekah; they turned west and followed the valley to the security of their cities of Gath and Ekron (v. 52).

This battle was probably one of a number that occurred between the Israelites and the Philistines in the Shephelah. For example, in the Shephelah David defended the inhabitants of Keilah against the Philistines (23: 1– 13). Thus the account of David and Goliath not only provides geographical details concerning the Valley of Elah region but also illustrates the fact that the Shephelah served as a military buffer zone between the inhabitants of the coastal plain and those of the mountains to the east.

Valley of Elah during a January storm! It is normally dry!

For a description of the battle, see Rasmussen, Carl G. Zondervan Atlas of the Bible.   Zondervan, 2010, p. 34.

To view additional images of the area of the Valley of Elah (without obligation) Click Here.

Spring of Jezreel

On a recent trip to Israel I visited a site that I had viewed many times, but had not taken the time to visit.

The spring of Jezreel is situated in the large cluster of trees.

The Spring of Jezreel is located about 0.6 mi. northeast of the summit of biblical Zezreel.

This is a view of the pool and abandoned structure that was built during the days of the British Mandate (1922–1948). A channel directs water from the Spring of Jezreel into this pool. This powerful spring is located at the foot of Tel Jezreel (about 0.6 mi northeast of the summit of the tell).

According to the biblical text it was here that Saul mustered the Israelite troops in preparation for his fatefull battle with the Philistines.

“The Philistines gathered all their forces at Aphek, and Israel camped by the spring in Jezreel.”

Soon afterward, Saul and his sons Jonathan, Abinadab and Malki-shua were killed on nearby Mount Gilboa (1 Samuel 31:2).

Naboth’s vineyards may have also been in the vicinity (1 Kings 21:1).

View of the channel that leads from the Spring of Jezreel to the pool that was built during the days of the British Mandate (1922–1948). In this photo, the water is flowing toward the viewer.

For more images from Jezreel, Click Here.

Nebi Samwil — Can I see the Dome of the Rock from Here?

Nebi Samwil is the highest and most prominent landmark located 5 mi. [8 km.] northwest of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.  Although not on the route of typical tours, serious tours may indeed stop there, for the view from there is terrific in all directions.  In the past we have been able to ascend to the roof of the mosque to view the country side, but even without this, the views from the foot of the mosque are still very good.

NebiSamwil01Where else can you get a view of the Central Benjamin Plateau (which is one of the busiest areas in the Historical Books of the Old Testament)?   Besides viewing Gibeon and Ramallah to the north, Gibeah to the east, the modern city of Jerusalem is spread out in all its glory to the south.  To the southeast the three towers on the Mount of Olives are clearly visible in the distance.  But students invariably ask, can we see the Temple Mount from here?

We have peered through binoculars in all kinds of weather trying to find the Gold Dome of the “Dome of the Rock” that now stands where the First and Second Temples stood.  On very very rare occasions someone has said, oh, there it is!  But it has never been that clear!#$@!

DomeOfRock05

Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download

Well, sorting though some of my photos taken from Nebi Samwil I thought I would see if the Golden Dome of the Rock appeared in any of them.  Voilà!  It does!  Note that Nebi Samwil is at 2906 ft. above sea level while the Dome of the Rock is at 2437 ft.  And that the City of David (= the Old Ancient Core) is to the south of the Dome and decreases in elevation as one goes south.

DomeOfRock01

Here is a full image of the above photo — Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download

More on the Biblical significance of Nebi Samwil in a future post (next Wednesday?).