OR, HANGING OUT IN SELCUK (EPHESUS)
I’m in the middle of my trip and haven’t had a chance to report in! Been super busy since I got here and knackered for the most part so here’s where I’m at present.
Well my old birds, I’m stuck out here after we cocked up a bit! I have moved from Tire to Selcuk for the rest of my stay at a lovely pension which is a stone’s throw from the magnificent Ephesus. I now have a little breathing space to relax after over-partying on Friday! I was a little too exuberant celebrating on Friday night and rather suffered yesterday. I was a bad old bird.
Today however I went out and did my favourite stuff, museums and archaeology. This is truly a magical place.
I visited the actual Ephesus ruins two years ago so today had a chance to see some of the artefacts removed and placed in their fine museum in town. As I am still weary I have returned to my Rebetika Pension and am on the top terrace in blazing sunshine writing this with my beer and in a much more relaxed state of mind.
THE EFE MUSEUM.
I was very lucky and found everything much closer than I thought and sauntered down the cobbled street in blazing sunshine and arrived in only ten minutes at my lovely destination.
SOME HARDCORE HISTORY FROM THE MUSEUM!
Ephesus Museum comprises of two main sections; archaeological and ethnographical (in the Arasta). Various finds from the Prehistoric (7,000 BC), Mycenaean, Geometric, Archaic, Classical, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Seljuk and Ottoman Periods are on display here all carrying a unique importance for the Anatolian archaeology.
Remnants of the Çukuriçi Mound, the earliest settlement in the city; the artefacts of Artemision, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World; finds from the city’s most glorious Hellenistic and Roman Periods; Saint John’s Basilica holding the grave of the Evangelist St. John; the Fortress at the Ayasuluk Hill; the Belevi Mausoleum as well as finds from the excavations held in the vicinity are all on display in this museum. However finds uncovered during the early years of the excavations conducted in Ephesus are in various museums in London, Vienna, İstanbul and İzmir.
Situated on Curetes Street, the two-storeyed monumental Fountain of Trajan is one of the most outstanding fountains in Ephesus. As the inscription on its architrave reads, it was built in honour of the emperor Trajan (98-117 AD) by the Asiarch Tiberius Claudius Aristion and his wife.
The central part of the fountain had a pool surrounded by columns on two storeys. The rectangular-shaped pool was 11.90 x 5.40 m in dimension.
The 9.50 m high facade was decorated with a number of statues and the colossal statue of Trajan stood in the central niche. Yet only the feet standing on the plinth with an honorary inscription and fragments of the torso have survived. Between his feet is the symbolic representation of the globe. Severely damaged by the many earthquakes, the edifice was restored partially in the later periods.
DAILY LIFE IN TERRACE HOUSES
Family and the hearth within the house were considered sacred in antiquity. Vesta, the protectress of the hearth, was one of the major gods. Certain simple religious ceremonies were practised in the houses where wine was poured on the floor in the name of gods and incense burned. In the Terrace Houses, an extensive family group was fundamental depending on the size of the living quarters. The father who provided for the continuation of the family line was elevated to a divine status within the household. Education started at home and continued after a certain age in the gymnasiums. Paintings and statues of famous philosophers like Socrates and Plato having been found in the private houses in Ephesus certify this fact.
Music was believed to be a divine invention and that it brought relaxation to the human spirit and healed illnesses. The aulos (flute), Kithara, and lyre were the most important musical instruments.
The triclinium (dining room) was one of the most essential rooms in the house. The family and guests would drink wine and eat here in a half-reclining position on a kline (couch) placed adjacent to the walls of the room. Marble and bronze tables with lavishly decorated legs, wooden or wickerwork armchairs, and footstools were the principal types of furniture.
Fruits that grew in abundance in the vicinity of Ephesus such as grapes, figs and pomegranates, and animals provided by the farms outside the city, like pork, fowl and fish were the most favoured food. Wine was the indispensable drink of meals and religious ceremonies. The high-quality Ephesian wine produced in the vineyards just outside the city was very famous at the time. The finer olive oil was used in preparing food whereas the lesser quality one would be consumed as fuel in the oil lamps or used by athletes in the gymnasia. Men who took part in the administration of the city spent certain hours of the day outside their homes at meetings which took place in the agora or the baths. Textile production was one of the chief occupations of women who stayed home all day.
The games children played resembled the ones of today. They played ball games; with walnut shells and knucklebones; pulled toy wagons and rode hobby horses. Games of chance played with coins, dice or bones were pastimes which aroused great interest at all ages.
Whilst meandering around the amazing place, with ancient aqueducts and ancient ruins popping up everywhere in the middle of modern buildings all around, I found a great sense of tranquillity. This hadn’t always been the case as this area is prone to catastrophic earthquakes and so Ephesus was destroyed and rebuilt on various occasions, was conquered and changed by various invaders until finally it was silted up by a withdrawing sealine. Turbulent and sometimes tragic, this place you might say has it all.
Last time I was here I had been staying down the coast in Bodrum and had come to Ephesus with a ghastly tour operator in a coach of all things, exactly what I hate most. I had separated myself from the group, much to the guide’s fury, and had managed to enjoy the beauty of this monumental site without all the yakking and bullying and general shite that comes with that experience. So to be staying in Selcuk for a few days, and thus to be able to visit the museum with the artefacts not available in situ was wonderful.
IF MONEY IS YOUR THING!
The earliest coins unearthed in the foundations of the Artemis Temple in Ephesus date to the second half of the 7th century BC. These electrum coins (a natural alloy of gold and silver) bear on the obverse a lion protome; a lion’s paw; two antithetic lion proteomes or a wild boar. On the reverse is an incuse punch. On coins minted in Ephesus after the 6th century BC depiction of a stag is included in the repertoire.
An Ephesian coin dating to the 6th century BC is one of the earliest examples of an inscribed electrum coin with a grazing stag figure and a Greek legend above this figure which can be translated as “I am the badge of Phanes”.
Being the symbol of the city, in the earlier examples the bee was used on the obverse whereas on the reverse quadratumincusum (rectangular/square incuse marks) took place. Until the Roman Imperial Period the bee and stag, the latter being the sacred animal of Artemis (the major goddess of the city) were observed on the coins. These symbols altered according to the period enabling the experts to date the coins precisely.
Coins were uninterruptedly struck in the city until the period of emperor Gallienus (253-268 AD). Roman coins bear the portraits of the emperors and their family members on the obverse and on the reverse are symbols of the city alongside its outstanding monuments, cult statues and other works of art. After the 3rd century AD with the decline of the Empire minting was halted in the city.
When the Turks invaded the City of Ephesus in 1304 they changed its name to Ayasuluk. Hence it became an essential military and commercial port of the Principality of Aydm. In order to declare sovereignty and continue its trading activities during this period the Principality started minting Akche here. The city continued to play an important role throughout the Ottoman Period and minted Akche until the reign of Mehmed the Conqueror.
Imperial cults were established in the Roman Period in order to form and secure unity. Imperial cult temples were supervised by head priests called Archihiereus. Semi-religious games were conducted in different provinces in the name of the emperor where gladiator games concerning the imperial cult were held and also wild animals fought.
Like the many other cities in Asia Minor, temples dedicated to the Roman emperors were built in Ephesus, too. The permission granted was considered a great honour and privilege becoming a race for prestige among the cities. Ephesus, where most of the monumental buildings are from the Roman Period, was named neokoros (having the right to build a temple dedicated to the emperor) four times hence outclassing other important cities such as Samos, Pergamum and Smyrna.
Ephesus gained its first neokoros title during the reign of Domitian (81-96 AD). When the emperor died and the decision was made to erase his name (damnatio memoriae), the city was about to lose its neokoros title. Yet with a wise act, the temple was dedicated to Vespasian, the deceased and consecrated father of the emperor hence the name was kept.
Ephesus was given the neokoros title again when Hadrian (117-138 AD) visited the city in 128 AD bearing the forename Zeus Olympios. When Caracalla became the emperor together with his brother Geta (209-211 AD) the city gained its third neokoros title. After killing his brother Geta, in the letter he wrote to the Ephesians (212 AD), Caracalla disclaimed his right in favour of Artemis. Once again the title was lost until regained in the name of the emperor Elagabalus (218-222 AD). Ephesus gained its fourth neokoros title from the temple dedicated to the emperor Valerian (253-260 AD).
OK, enough of that stuff. Back to less scholarly stuff.
Top Tip: the pomegranate juice here is wonderful. They squeeze it freshly and it bursts with health and goodness and is delicious. Don’t miss it. They are very much in love with eating fresh produce at all meals despite what you might think with our immediate thought of the good old kebab. Normally even for breakfast, you are treated to cucumber and tomato alongside your boiled eggs and fabulous crusty bread. I some places you are even treated to various herbs, dill, mint and other strange wild greens. Add a bit of onion and local cheeses and you’re starting to understand the healthy nature of their diet. Indeed, 80 per cent of Turkish produce is organic. Yup you heard right. Also to add to this mix. in this area the spring water from the mountains is on tap. Clean naturally filtered mountain water. The negative ions emitted from this are a great way to detoxify your poor old poisoned body, so enjoy that along with the clean mountain air while you hike around! You will see strange marble structures everywhere in the mountains with this crystal clear water gushing out from big brass faucets. Go drink it and wash your hot face it’s rejuvenating you!
As I want to dedicate a separate post to Artemis I shall split this in half and just show you the amazing other stuff that’s there for you to enjoy because the Mother Goddess and her temple are truly magnificent. Bear in mind, although very little remains, this was one of the Seven Wonders of the world.
Catch up with you later with huge numbers of photos. Bear with me as my injured knee must have twisted while I was sleeping last night and I woke thinking it had re-dislocated! I am on painkillers and being very gentle with it today but this means I’m very dozy and just want to sleep dammit!