Friday, December 26, 2014

Road to Adana!

Photos by Jack Waldron
On the road to Adana I ran into these two guys who had decided to cycle from Mersin to Adana.  When I pulled into the gas station they asked if I had seen a black bag . . . to which I replied, "yeah, about four kilometers back".  So, one of the guys jumped on his bike and headed back to find the bag.  Meanwhile, the other guy started fixing a flat tire.  I kicked back and drank a cola.  Across the road from the gas station, up on a high escarpment sat the Ceyhan Castle (pictured below).

When I arrived in Adana, I easily found my locale on the city map when I crossed the 4C AD Roman Stone Bridge, which is still one of the busiest bridges in the city.  
I had to spend a couple nights in Adana because my computer was being serviced (don't ask!), the archeological museum was closed for the summer (don't ask!), and I found some wonderfully tart cherries, that, weren't cherries (but a truly beautiful tasting fruit), and I ate them ALL . . . (don't ask!!).

*All photos and content property of Jack Waldron (photos may not be used without written permission)

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Anavarza . . . the Unconquered City!

Photos by Jack Waldron
The back road to ancient Anazarbus follows the 7 km long aquaduct believed to have been built in the time of the Roman emperor Domitian, that brought water to the city from the Sumbas river.  
The very hospitable family of the site Bekci (or overseer of ancient Anazarbus) brought me in and housed my cycle while I went off to examine the city, which lay all amongst the village.  Just behind their house was a Roman mosaic, excavated, covered and numbered, while in their garden lay the remains of numerous architectural pieces from the site (pictured below).
The scene is dominated in absolute terms by the collossal escarpment that protects the citadel, high above the lower city.  
The ancient city below the escarpment is in great ruin, and little remains of its former glory as an unconquered city,  which its name is most like derived, from the Persian 'nabarza'.
Pictured above, the ancient Byzantine walls climb the escarpment high above the lower city, while the lower city walls run several kilometers encircling and running through the modern village of Anavarza.
Below, the protective walls of the Byzantine citadel over look the scant remains of the ancient theater . . . , its blocks quarried over the centuries to construct the village houses and various buildings,  many of which remain occupied till this day.    
The Triumphal Arch still stands as a monument to its importance as a directly ruled Roman city beginning during the reign of Claudius, AD 41-54.  Pictured above and below, the original three arches are in the process of restoration, as the intricately carved facade and structural pieces lay all around it.
Below, archeologists unearth the ancient road inside the city walls leading from the Triumphant Arch.
My bike rests on a long abandon frieze from one the many ancient buildings that once dominated the city of Anazarbus.  Bolow, I make my getaway following the Roman aqueduct away from the city. 
Pictured above, Anavarza Bal, which is a famous honey from Anavarza that is infused with bee pollen!!  I'm told I will feel like superman after ten days if I eat a teaspoon once a day . . . "stamina" . . . and the other box I bought said "viva"!!

*All photos and content property of Jack Waldron (photos may not be used without written permission)

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Flaviopolis Kadiri

Photos by Jack Waldron
Along the road to Ancient Flaviopolis, which is now modern day Kadirli, a bustling town nestled at the foothills of the Eastern Taurus Mountains, I passed through the village of Yukariciyanli, where I came upon an ancient structure (pictured below), perhaps a Byzantine church from first millennium AD, or a Crusader outpost along the path to the Holy Land, or a Gothic Monastery of more recent date (pictured below)?

Kadirli is home to the Ala Camii Mosque (pictured above), which is housed within the walls of an earlier Christian basilica that was erected on the 2C AD base of a monumental Roman Temple, from which most of the materials (blocks, tiles, columns, etc.) were quarried from the ancient cella/structure, and used to construct the basilica and mosque.  I love how the site descriptions states that,"a mosque was built by the Romans as a monastery at the begin[ning] of the 2nd century, reflecting Roman, Byzanti[ne] and Turkish cultures together."  What foresight the Romans had . . . , but we understand.
If you examine the blocks of the structure very closely you will notice the various widths and heights of each block, of which there are basically three, and measuring from a common rule: four thin blocks together equal one thick block, while two blocks of middle thickness equal one thick block and so on.  Though I wish the ancient Roman temple were still intact, this Byzantine structure is in a wonderful state of preservation.
Pictured above, a view of the temple/basilica/mosque from the front. While pictured below, the rounded basilica sanitary wall meets the outer wall of the Roman temple cella, or, a newer constructed outer wall of the basilica.  Look closely at the cornice (geison) that meets the back wall just below the roof, and notice how the cornice (probably from the ancient Roman temple) is carved straight or square as opposed to rounded, as is the case for the newer cornice encircling the roof. The inner cella of the Roman temple would have housed a statue to a god, which would have sat where the inner sanctuary of the basilica now sits.  

*All photos and content property of Jack Waldron (photos may not be used without written permission)

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Karatepe and Antiochus I

Photos by Jack Waldron
Heading north from Hieropolis Kastabala into Karatepe-Aslantas Milli Park, site of the ancient Neo-Hittite Palace, the rolling hills and mountainous passes offer serene calmness and beauty . . . and a good workout for cyclists.  The roads in September and August are lined with delicious blackberries, hmmm, the perfect sugar for cycling energy . . . I ate baskets full . . . , and frankly speaking, my bike in the picture below reminds me of my 1973 - 400 c.i. V8 Mopar Dodge Monaco with hydraulic flip-open head lights . . . , a bad motor scooter (notice the mag wheel in back)!!
I arrived at the ancient site too tired and too late to squeeze in the ruins and the museum, so I kicked back at the kiosk, drank a giant bottle of ice cold cola, and watched the kiosk operator carve wooden kitchen utensils out of local pine.  The elevation offers a cool reprieve from the intense summer climate of the lower plain, which explains why this summer palace belonging to the Neo-Hittite King Asitawata was built where it is.

Following the glorious victories over the Egyptians and tragic defeats at Troy, the long and infamous history of the Hittite people and their kingdom between the second millennium BC and 1200 BC declined at the hands of a mysterious people described by the Egyptians as 'the Sea People', who ravaged the Eastern Mediterranean leaving the Hittites (amongst other peoples) scattered. The Hittites eventually found refuge in a few remaining pockets of their lands (in modern day Syria and the Taurus Mountains), of which the kingdom of Cilicia (which surrounds Karatepe) became one.  
Lions guard the entrance to the summer palace of Antiochus, at Karatepe . . . 
Fertility is a major theme amongst the reliefs at Karatepe; pictured above, a representation of the tree of life, male (erect penis) and female continue the cycle of birth as hooves and horns blossom as a result of their procreativity.  Pictured below, the story of legends and myths told in Neo-Hittite hieroglyphs. 
As is written in ancient Neo-Hittite hieroglyph reliefs at Karatepe, the ruler Asitawata describes himself as belonging to the 'House of Mpsh', whoch is usually ascribed to Mopsus, the legendary founder of Mopsuestia and various other cities in Asia Minor.
Hieroglyphic inscriptions on some of the orthostats at Karatepe refer to a people called 'Danuna' and 'Danauna', which may have been the 'Danaoi', who Homer mentions in the Iliad, and who fought on the Achaean side.  Some 500 years after their kingdom was destroyed, the remaining pockets were eventually taken over by the Assyrians, and the Neo-Hittite culture eventually obscured as remnants and without recognition within other dominating belief systems.
Pictured below, a fertility god with hanging penis entertains the admissions of mortal monkeys, which inhabit his shoulders and oratory orifices.
The fruits of cooperation in battle and in community are brought to the kings table in the form of a feast (as pictured above and below).
Perhaps telling of a glorious past, pictured above, soldiers on chariots ride into battle. 
Pictured above and below, the warrior, man and patron of the Hittite.
Pictured above, a relief of a suckling child.  Below, the solar disc buzzard god commands the rise and fall, the warmth and cold . . . life and death . . . 
Pictured below, a ship sails the seas for commerce and for war beyond the Hittite lands.
Above, the palace gate is guarded by representations of a lions, while below, a representation of a sphinx guards another palace gate.  On the orthostat in front of the sphinx, a hunter carries his prize.  Falling within the same time period as Mycene of Pelopponese and Knossos of Crete, the ruins of the Neo-Hittite palace at Karatepe are in an exquisite state of preservation!  
Pictured above, a Hittite statue greets the royal guests with opened arms of law and order.  Below, some Hittite pottery adds 'question' to the ancient culture.
Above and below, domestic activities such as hunting, feasting and carrying out the formalities of royal life dominate everyday activities.
Pictured above, a stele with a relief of Antiochus greeting the god Helios.  Below, Antiochus greets Hercules on another stele relief.  Both stele have script on the sides describing the thoughts of Antiochus with regard to the Commagene lands, gods and those who fall within its boundaries.
As can be seen in the picture below, the side of the stale (both) are adorned with inscriptions, as desiphered in the photo above.

*All photos and content property of Jack Waldron (photos may not be used without written permission)