Thursday, January 23, 2020

Lebedos: Ionian City Depopulated

Photos by Jack Waldron

It is not exactly clear who was responsible for the founding of this Ionian city, whether it was Andraemon, son of Codrus, as reported by Pausanias, or, by Andropompus, which is according to Strabo.  What can also not be assured, is whether the site was previously occupied by Carians, or, by Lydians under the name of Artis.  Pictured above, a photo of the Acropolis in the distance rising above the beach, taken from walled peninsula of the ancient city.
The history of ancient Lebedos appears to have been mired by the greater success of nearby cites, ancient Teos to north, and Ephesus to the south, not to mention Notion, aka, Kolophon by the sea.  In 304 BC, Antigonus I Monophthalmus attempted to join Lebedos with Teos, but was eventually thwarted by Lysimachus, who in 292 BC, moved the bulk of the population to Ephesus.  Pictured below, I view of the walled peninsula from the Acropolis.
Though the city was partially destroyed during this forced migration, it would continue to be inhabited, eventually coming under the rule of Ptolemy III Euergetes, and a new name, Ptolemais.  The city fared better under Roman rule, and also became famous as the temporary home of the Artists of Dionysus, who had been exiled from Teos, kicked out of Ephesus and nearby Mysus, and perhaps Notion as well.
As mentioned in the history of ancient Lebedos above, classical era coinage from the city have not been found, however, Hellenistic era coins do exit (pictured below).  This coin was minted in Lebedos between 160-140 BC, and depicts the head of Athena wearing a crested Corinthian helmet on the front, while on the obverse side, an owl clasping a club with its talons stands between two crossed cornucopiae, all within a wreath.  
Ancient Lebedos is located amongst the houses of the village of Urkmez in Izmir province (Coordinates 38°4′41″N 26°57′53″E).  As can be seen in the illustrated city plan of the ancient city above, there are two main areas, those being the walled peninsula that juts out into the sea, and the acropolis.
There is a lone sign with the scant information and illustration of the city plan (pictured above) standing in an unextraordinary location along the street within the village.  Lebedos has yet to be excavated, and therefore, any remaining antiquities are mostly below the surface.  I decided to circumnavigate the protective wall that encompasses the whole of the peninsula (pictured above and below).
The ancient wall surrounding the peninsula is in fair to excellent condition, though it must tolerate the encroachments of holiday making tourists, their temporary constructions and, their buckets of paint!
The interior of the peninsula is extremely overgrown, and who knows what treasures are hidden beneath the shrub brush?  The wall itself rises mightily above the sea, and so it should, as over the millennia it has had to hold back pirates, naval forces and the sea.
Continuing around the peninsula, I couldn't find any remnants of an ancient port, though there must have been one.  That said, part of the reason it was so difficult for ancient Lebedos to prosper was because it lacked a protected bay.
Following my exploration of the peninsula, I headed for the Acropolis (pictured below).  I imagine that a theater must exist somewhere around the slopes of the acropolis, but unfortunately there are few signs of such a building.
Though from a distance, the acropolis does not seem so high, however, the slopes build slowly until the height reaches a quite substantial level.  Pictured below, a view back down the slope with some antiquities breaking the surface, and the walled peninsula at the far end of the beach.
The top of the Acropolis is quite flat once the rolling slopes are conquered, and there would appear to be support walls surrounding sections of the Acropolis built in order to keep terraces that were built upon.  These walls most probably served a dual purpose as well, that of defense.
The wall or walls surrounding the Acropolis usually disappear underground and into overgrown brush, but there certainly is more to this accent site than meets the eye.
The section of wall pictured above and below appears to end (right side of photo) at what may be an entrance gate to the Acropolis.  In the photo below, we can see what appears to be a square trapezoidal wall (left of photo), that ends in a Lesbian or Hellenistic polygonal wall.  This would lead us to suspect that the wall saw various constructions and reconstructions over a lengthy period of occupancy.
As can be seen in the photo below, the so-called Gate or section of the wall beyond where the polygonal blocks end goes subterranean, leaving these blocks just peaking above the surface.  It is highly probable that the upper section of the wall was removed here in order to allow vehicle access to the acropolis.
The massive stone slabs pictured below are the remnants of a very large building.  How they ended up in this position, and if this is the location of the building will not be known until the site is excavated.
It goes without saying that this ancient city is not the reason tourists come to the area.  As a matter of fact, I am guessing that most sun bathers and sea worshipers have no idea that they are in the midst of an ancient city.
I suppose I took more than a couple pictures of this heap of stone blocks as antiquities at this site were so sparse.  That is not to say that exploring the site was anything less than exhilarating!
I think it's fair to say that the reliefs on the building members that can be viewed at the site are not of the highest quality, but that should be used to determine the quality of the workmanship on the antiquities that remain below the surface.
Pictured below, an odd stone block, which appears to sit in situ, may be part of a rather massive building, the remains of which remain under the surface.
There are building members, stone bases and oddly placed blocks poking above the surface of most of the Acropolis.
With tens of thousands of such unexcavated sites throughout Turkey, it would take the will power of a nation to exhume these treasures from their graves.
Around every tree, beneath every bush and shrub, small pieces of the puzzle expose themselves.
It would probably take a team of excavators less than five seasons to complete an electrical resistance survey of the acropolis and the walled peninsula and, do enough digging to give a nearly complete picture of the ancient city, while at the same time discovering some wonderful treasures.
Lebedos appears in ancient documents beginning around 750 BC, and is written about through around 640 AD.  Perhaps its early demise as a populated city bodes well for future excavators, as this long forgotten site may still hold most of its treasures under ground, meaning, that the site may not have been heavily quarried over the millennia.
Why would such a perfect stone block such as the one pictured below escape the interests of those who could find use for it in some other structure?
I never did locate the Theater, and perhaps that is one monument that did not escape the hands of those in need of easily acquired building materials.  I am afraid that we will not know any time soon, as ancient Lebedos does not seem to garner a whole lot of interest among the academic community, who have bigger fish of fortune and fame to fry.

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

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Thursday, January 9, 2020

Sewing to Cycle & Sail

Photos by Jack A. Waldron

Happy New Year 2020!  This is a special blogpost meant to bring good tidings and cheer in the coming year . . . and beyond!  Ordinarily, my post topic centers around ancient sites, and that will continue to be the case in the years to come.  However, there is a new chapter on the horizon, and I would like to share that with you now.
As you can see from the photos, I have been trying to extend the lives of my seven year old gear, which has required the tried and true work of needle and thread!  But, why, you may ask?  Well, to use an old adage coined by the Ben, 'A penny saved, is two pence clear.', and I have grande plans for those two pence multiplied!  I also see no need to buy new, when the old will do.
Sewing the liner of my bicycle helmet has been a blessing in disguise . . . , well, maybe not so disguised.  The stitching actually made the edge more comfortable, a sort of buffer between the sharp plastic rim . . . and my forehead, though now I wear a bandanna.  I highly recommend doing this, especially since it's near impossible to find new liners when out and about around the planet.
So, why am I trying to save all my pennies . . . or pents?  That's easy to answer, because I don't make a lot dollars . . . or pounds!  As most people know, while teaching is, dare I say, a noble profession, it really doesn't pay that well.  So, in order to bring in the new horizon for Bike Classical, I am faced with an expensive proposition, which I will explain in more detail further down.
Cyclists will recognize these large red bags right away, and, the seam problem that comes with them.  I must say now, that I love my Ortlieb panniers, and when the day comes, if the day comes, I will/would replace these with new Ortlieb panniers in a heart beat!  But until then, these bags will be repaired and sewn until parts are no longer available, or until they won't hold a thread.  But, why go through all the trouble? 
Well, part of the reason has to do with the environment, which is a core of the mission of Bike Classical.  Making things last means less toxins into an already fragile environment, not to mention, more pennies in my pockets.
I stuck a pencil through the separated seam of the panniers in the photo above in order to illustrate a problem with this design.  That said, after sewing them, the problem is solved (pictured below).  I use nylon thread, which is nearly indestructible.
Another serious issue with these panniers centers around the back-side clip attachment, which is a nylon material that loops through the clip and is sewn.  This material eventually begins to rip, or, the thread starts to loosen, or both (pictured below).
This problem is easily solved, yet again, with a needle and some nylon thread (pictured below).
So, you can see that it may be possible to save this gear from the trash heap for quite a while longer, perhaps even for the rest of my cycling life . . . , but more importantly . . . for the sake of the environment.  Keeping these panniers alive does not only save a few pennies, now we are talking about some serious dollars, because these bags are not cheap!
As I mentioned above, Bike Classical is going to take the next big leap in its mission to explore ancient sites around the planet, and that involves the sea!
Yes, the sea!  Within the next two years, I will be purchasing a sailboat, which will take a crew and myself on fantastic adventures to ancient sites throughout the Mediterranean and beyond.
You may have just said to yourself, yeah, that would cost a fair amount of pennies, and you would be correct.  Approximately, 5,000,000 pennies!  Do I have that many pennies?  Not yet.
The question arises, will I continue to tour by cycle, and the answer is absolutely yes!  The bike will go with the ship.  I will cycle inland from the coasts, into the mountains and beyond in order to reach those amazing ancient sites that await.  Bike & Sail Classical will become a much more dynamic mission.
So, as I save for this major undertaking, how will I sustain the cost of a sailboat?  Well, I will of course continue to work as a teacher, probably through the internet, and/or at schools when docked for an extended period of time.
However, there is more than one way to make a mission more dynamic.  I will be starting a VLOG, which I have yet to name, but of course, Bike & Sail Classical would seem the obvious choice.  I have already established a YouTube account and Blog with these names, but more on those later.  But surely, this will not generate enough income for maintenance and provisions.  So, how else can I achieve this lofty goal?  The answer, by maintaining what I already have, as best I can.
All of the equipment you see in these photos were purchased in 2013, when I began my tour cycling adventure.  The bib cycle shorts you see here are Specialized Brand, and I think I got them on sale for $85, which was about half price at that time.  The issue with these, and I imagine most cycle shorts, is that the elasticity of the material around the bottom of the shorts stretches, and begins to look ridiculously like two ballerina tutus.
As you can see, I tried two different hand stitches in my attempt to pull the elastic back to a tight fit around my legs, and I can say after several months of use, that the combination has worked out fine.  I sewed them square in the front, and with a V in the back.
These Keen cycling sandals are the greatest tour cycling gear I own.  I will keep sewing these puppies until they either rot off my feet, or, until they are ripped off my feet by some rabid canine, or wild boar!
I truly love these cycling shoes/sandals, and I absolutely recommend them for tour cycling and, any other excursion you might take.  They are great on the pedals, stiff enough for the long haul, yet flexible and versatile enough for the long hikes involved in exploring ancient sites.
I beg Keen, please, do not stop producing these cycling sandals!!  Pleeeez!  Mine may not last forever.
Unfortunately, the cycling gloves pictured below are no longer in service.  They finely gave out, as they could not hold a thread for any length of time.  Fortunately, I found a cheap pair here in Turkey, though I can honestly say, there's nothing like a quality pair of cycling gloves.
I'll keep these around for an emergency, and also to remind me of the pleasures of tour cycling!
Finally, the pair of Keens that could . . . , and did, and continue to do!  These are on their last leg . . . , foot, feet.  When the hike of an ancient site has required a bit more climbing, these are the go to.  I also use them around the camp, and anywhere else I may tread.
Speaking of tread, as you can see, these have lost theirs.  I still use them though, because they are also quite pricey, and I have not been able to find a comparable pair here in Turkey.
Sewing these puppies has required an extra strong needle, as I've had to reattach the upper to the sole.  I'm not perturbed about this in the least, however, it's the burrs that come through the missing sole that make one jump and shout!
I think I sewed these about two years ago, so they are holding up fairly well.  Again, the longer I can make them last, the fewer pairs I will have to buy before I hang up my spurs.
So, why show all this equipment fatigue?  Well, to show that we can live with less, and that is good for the environment, and our pocket books.  I'm proud of these works of art, and, that I can make things go so far.  That said, patching and sewing does not make a sailboat float . . . safely!
So, here comes the pitch, that if you appreciate the blogposts I have produced over the past 6 years, and value the efforts I've made to save my pennies, and wish to support the future of these efforts, then you can help!
I currently have 1 Patreon supporting my efforts with a pledge of $10, and that means more to me and the mission than you know.  It inspires me, and gives me a lot of extra oomph to keep on keepin' on!  So, if you would like to support Bike & Sail Classical by becoming a Patreon, please follow the link below, and I welcome you aboard!!  Cheers!  Jack