On December 6 the feast of Saint Nicholas is celebrated and so I thought I would bring back this oldie but goodie.
On the outskirts of the Turkish town of Demre is a church that is associated with Saint Nicholas—Father Christmas, a.k.a. in northern Europe as Santa Claus!
St. Nicholas was born in nearby Patara about A.D. 300 and served as the bishop of Myra later in his life. A number of miracles are attributed to this revered bishop, including his providing a dowry to the three daughters of a local baker. Thus he is associated with “gift giving!” He was also the patron saint of sailors and was prayed to for protection at sea—note that Myra is very near the Mediterranean Sea. He died about A.D. 345.
It is said that he was buried in this church, but that his relics (bones) were taken to Bari, Italy, about A.D. 1088, although other claims are made that the Venetians took them.
View looking down at the altar area from the top of the synthronon
Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download
Every 6 December, the feast day of St. Nicholas, Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant Christians celebrate the Divine Liturgy here.
To view (or download) additional images of the Church of Saint Nicholas Click Here.
Hierapolis is mentioned only once in the New Testament (Colossians 4:15) where Paul states that Epaphras was working there and in nearby Laodicea.
Memorial (Pilgrimage) Church Dedicated to Philip
Early Christian tradition states that Philip, along with his daughters, settled at Hierapolis. It is probable that Philip the Apostle (= disciple of Jesus) is the actual person, although a confused tradition suggests that it was Philip the Evangelist (see his activities in the book of Acts).
Pilgrims’ Path Leading Up to the Martyrium of Philip
Tradition also states that Philip was martyred and buried here at Hierapolis. On a hill northeast of the city a Martyrium—a memorial that was a focus of pilgrimage—was built in the fifth century AD. In July 2011, the excavator, Francesco D’Andria announced that he had discovered the very Tomb of Philip in the vicinity.
Recently I have posted 18 high-resolution images of the Martyrium of Philip. Click Here to view.
The Hittites are mentioned 61! times in the Hebrew Bible. Eflatunpinar (map below) is a mysterious, out-of-the-way Hittite site that is located about 50 mi. [80 km.] due west of Konya (classical and biblical Iconium; Acts 13:51; 14; 16:2; 2 Tim 3:11).
Hittite Monument — Spring — Pool
At Eflatunpinar (Eflaltun Pinar) there is a spring and a very well–preserved Hittite monument that dates to the second half of the thirteenth century B.C.—to the reign of the Hittite king Tudhaliya IV (ca. 1259–1229 B.C.)—biblically, about the time of the Israelite conquest of Canaan.
It is actually very possible that the Apostle Paul stopped at this wonderful spring twice as he traveled from Pisidian Antioch to Iconium and back on his first journey (Acts 13:5; 14:21), and as he probably traveled from Iconium to Pisidian Antioch on his second (Acts 16:4-6) and third journeys (Acts 18:22-23).
The monument is a “spring head” that feeds a pool that measures 110 ft. x 100 ft. (34 m. x 30 m.). Eflatun Pinar means “lavender-colored spring.”
Main Hittite Monument
The monument is composed of 19 large stone blocks that measures 23.3 x 23 ft. (7.1 x 7 m.). This upper portion is composed of twelve figures. The two central deities (not well-preserved) are probably the main god and goddess—the symbolism may be that of the gods “who carry the sky and connect it with the earth” (source). These two deities support two two-winged sun disks and above them is a huge two–winged sun disk tops the monument.
On the right side two deities, one on top of the other, are clearly visible–as are their counterparts on the left (west) side of the monument.
Five Mountain Gods
At the base of the monument are five mountain gods. The central three are the best preserved and note how the central three have holes in them—just below their folded arms—through which water originally flowed.
To view the lower portions of these deities when they are not covered by water, Click Here. Additional holes for the discharge of water are clearly visible as are their “skirts.”
To view additional images of Eflatunpinar Click Here.
Antandros is a Greco- Roman City located on the north side of the Gulf of Adramytium in Turkey about 19 mi. east of Assos and 19 mi. west of Adramytium (modern Edremit). On his voyage to Rome Paul boardered a ship from nearby Adramyttium:
Acts 27:1 When it was decided that we would sail for Italy, Paul and some other prisoners were handed over to a centurion named Julius, who belonged to the Imperial Regiment. 2 We boarded a ship from Adramyttium about to sail for ports along the coast of the province of Asia, and we put out to sea.
Because of the nearby forests, Antandros was famous throughout antiquity for shipbuilding. It is very probable that the shipbuilders at nearby Adramyttium secured their timber from Mount Ida via Antandros.
Mosaic from the floor of the Terrace House at Antandros — Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download
Antandros has been under excavation since the early 21st century by Turkish archaeologists. One of the more significant finds is that of a Roman Villa, called the “Terrace House,” that was built in the fourth century AD and continued in use through the sixth or seventh century AD.
One of the Frescos on the Wall of the Terrace House at Antandros — Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download
The “Terrace House” at Antandros is somewhat similar to the more famous Terrace Houses of Ephesus!
For the history and/or legends surrounding Antandros see the excavation website and conveniently Wikipedia.
To view additional free images of Antandros Click Here.
Recent events have led to confusing attitudes towards Turkey. Our experiences have been typically positive. A few years ago Mary and I were traveling in a rented car trying to find Zincirli in “eastern” Turkey near the Syrian border. As we were heading south on a back road in a broad valley I spotted what I thought was wool from recently sheared sheep “airing” on the roof of a house in a small Turkish village. I thought that this might make an interesting “cultural” shot, so I doubled back, parked the car and got out with my camera to take a few pictures.
Drying/Airing What? — On the Roof Top
Note the Two Women and the Man — who where shouting at us
Click on Image to Enlarge
Before I could shoot more than three or four photos, the women on the roof of the house began shouting at me and I thought—oops, I am now in trouble (poor cultural sensitivity?!—usually I am able to stay in the background)! To top it off, a man came bursting out of the door running at me!
Well, my Turkish is very close to non-existent, and his English was not-existent. But through some frantic gestures, he indicated they wanted us to come in. I was not sure why—and a bit fearful. Well, he kept insisting so Mary and I followed him through the doorway into the lower level of the structure—basically a small stable. After we ascended the stair case we burst out on to the open air roof where three women, and several children greeted us with big smiles!
Part of a Turkish Family in a Village Near Zincirli
Turkish Hospitality at Its Best
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We found out that what they had hanging on the roof was the interior (stuffing) of their bedding. After the long winter they were airing it out and fluffing it up!
They wanted to serve us a full meal, which we declined, but of course they insisted we stay for çay (tea)! We had a great time smiling and gesturing. We showed them pictures of our children and they showed us pictures of theirs (on their mobile phone)!
What can I say, but these folk were just so friendly and so nice—to two strange strangers! And they sent us off with proper directions to Zincirli (that was not marked to well on the map that we had!#$%@!
To view photos of Zincirli and very important artifacts from there, Click Here (without obligation or cost)—including the very important Kulamuwa Inscription written in North Phoenician.
After visiting Hierapolis in Turkey (Colossians 4:13) we typically travel east down the Meander Valley to Didyma, Miletus and Priene. Sometimes we have taken a back road that leads through the small village of Sigla. Here they have the custom of placing bottles on the top of their chimneys to announce that there is a daughter in the family who is available for marriage!
Bottles on the chimneys announcing the availability of marriageable daughter in the small village of Sigla!
Another house in the village of Sigla — note the bottles on the two chimneys!
In the first three chapters of the New Testament book of Revelation the author addresses seven churches in the Roman Province of Asia (=modern western Turkey). In doing this he often makes allusions to cultural items that were especially meaningful to his first century hearers.
For example, in the name of Jesus he writes to the Church at Philadelphia:
I am coming soon … the one who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God … I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name. Rev 3:11–13 (NIV)