Posts Tagged ‘turkey’

The Vibrant Markets of Turkey

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

Jane C. Waldbaum, a classical archaeologist, is professor emerita of art history at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Jane is also a former president (2003-2007) of the Archaeological Institute of America, the oldest and largest archaeological organization in North America.

This September Jane led a group of Smithsonian travelers on a tour of Legendary Turkey and the Turquoise Coast.


Spices Turkey

Members of our group enjoying the Spice Market, Istanbul. (Photo by S. Morse.)

I love markets. Souks, Bazaars, Markets, I love them all. You never know what you’re going to find, and Turkey is particularly rich in markets of all kinds. From the Spice Bazaar in Istanbul to the village market in Sirince, and everything in between, I am fascinated by the luscious displays of late summer fresh fruits and vegetables, by bins filled with colorful spices, and by arrays of unusual foodstuffs whose original form I can only guess at — to say nothing of the carpets, child-size harem outfits, and silly wooden animals that presented buying opportunities to members of our group everywhere we went. And who doesn’t want to bring home an unusual souvenir or two? Or some mouthwatering Turkish Delight in delicate fruit flavors, studded with chunks of pistachio or hazelnut and rolled in a dusting of ground nuts?

Turkey Market

Woman rolling pancakes, Dalyan Saturday market. (Photo by J. Waldbaum.)

What are these people doing? This lady is rolling out enormous pancakes which she will spread with all kinds of fillings—not at all the crepes you are used to. That boy is extracting hazelnuts from the tangle of foliage that grows around them—who knew they grew that way? And where is our group?  In Istanbul, oohing and ahhing at the fabulous Spice Market; or, after a delicious home-made lunch in the house of Demetrios at Sirince, outside of Ephesus, they visit his shop, or is it his cousin’s? They move on, to examine the local felt and lace handicrafts.  And where’s my husband Steve? Looking at one last kilim in Kaymakli, Cappadocia, near the end of our trip, of course. I love markets!

Lace Market

Handmade lace, Sirince market. (Photo by J. Waldbaum.)


Read more about Smithsonian Journeys’ Legendary Turkey and the Turquoise Coast tour here.

Sailing into the History of Turkey’s Beautiful Coast

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

Stephanie Larson is an associate professor of classics at Bucknell University who received her Ph.D. in classics from the University of Texas at Austin. She has great interest in the modern histories of both Greece and Turkey.

In April, Stephanie led a group of Smithsonian travelers on a voyage around Legendary Turkey and the Turquoise Coast


As the Smithsonian Study Leader on the April 2012 Legendary Turkey program, I was thrilled to meet another fascinating group of Smithsonian travelers who had worked in such varied fields as nursing, education, medicine, law, geology, physics, neuropsychology, computer science and epidemiology. It is not every day that I have the opportunity to travel around the ancient Aegean and Mediterranean coasts with people who are so interesting in their own rights and also who are so interested in learning more about the history, archaeology and modern culture of the region. The variety in the Smithsonian travelers’ experience lent itself to stimulating questions and really deep and fascinating discussions, both on-site and during afternoons we spent relaxing on the gulets, beautiful Turkish wooden boats.

Turkey Coast

The western coast of Turkey. Photo courtesy of Flickr user audi_insperation

For example, as one travels down the western coast of Turkey and learns more about Greco-Roman antiquity, one cannot help but think of all the influential people that have come from this region who have influenced the later development of fields like philosophy, art, religion, history, and medicine. As a group, we talked and learned about Heracleitus, St. Paul, Galen and the Pergamene School of ancient sculpture. But as we considered all the great strands of these movements that either started or were influenced by ancient people from the west coast of the Aegean, we found ourselves concentrating on Herodotus, the so-called “Father of History,” who came from ancient Halicarnassos, now modern Bodrum, on the southwestern Turkish coast.  Having just visited the site of ancient Troy, our group was particularly fascinated by how Herodotus explains the origins of the Trojan War and why the Greeks sent a huge fleet against Troy in the second millennium BCE.


Ephesus, ancient ruins on the west coast of Turkey. Photo courtesy of Flickr user eleephotography

In the opening section of his History, Herodotus gives a different version of the war’s beginning than the usual story of the Judgment of Paris. For Herodotus, there are no goddesses involved; Aphrodite is not an anthropomorphized deity descending to earth from Olympus to make trouble with the humans. In Herodotus’ version, Paris, the prince of Troy, steals Helen from Sparta because other men had been stealing women throughout the Aegean and had not been punished for it. So, Paris figured that he too could get away with stealing himself a wife, and so he went to Sparta and carried Helen away. At least this is how Herodotus explains it. Our group talked about this story for quite some time, and we concluded that by taking the gods out of the narrative, Herodotus could indeed be rightly called the “Father of History,” as he attempted to reconcile a mythical story with a war that was thought to have happened seven-hundred years before his time. One of the best parts: We were having this discussion about Herodotus on the deck of a beautiful gulet, over a glass of wine and with the warm Aegean sun on our backs!


The traditional Turkey gulet. Photo by Matanya, via Wikimedia Commons


Read more about Smithsonian Journeys’ Legendary Turkey and the Turquoise Coast tour here

An Unforgettable Snapshot on the Euphrates River

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

Jodi Magness holds a senior endowed chair in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She received her B.A. in archaeology and history from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and her Ph.D. in Classical archaeology from the University of Pennsylvania.

In May, Jodi lead a group of Smithsonian Journey travelers around the Ancient Worlds of Anatolia.


The Euphrates River: The name evokes images of the earliest civilizations, mighty ancient powers such as Assyria and Babylonia, and modern Middle Eastern conflicts. And here we were, driving from the town of Gaziantep in southeastern Turkey to the Euphrates River for a boat ride! I had the good fortune of accompanying The Ancient World of Anatolia, a tour of southeastern and central Turkey. As we drove, I craned my head for my first glimpse of the fabled river. Finally, we reached the river, driving along its banks until stopping at a spot where we all boarded a boat. I chose to sit with about half of the group on the boat’s roof, for the best view of the river as we made our way upstream.

I thought about how this river provided not only vital drinking water in this arid region, but also served as a main transportation artery for all of the peoples along the hundreds of miles alongside its banks. And I thought about how millennia ago, humans began to utilize the river to irrigate agricultural fields. Thanks to irrigation, farmers were able to produce surplus crops, which led to the rise of specialized crafts and industries, as not everyone had to grow food just to survive. As a result, hierarchical or stratified societies developed—that is, centralized forms of government—and with them, the need for writing to keep official records. All of these thoughts swirled through my mind as we glided along the Euphrates River. Suddenly, I realized this was a “Kodak moment.” Everyone agreed, quickly assembling on the roof of the boat for a group photo.

Smithsonian group on Euphrates River

Smithsonian Journeys group exploring the Euphrates River. Photo by author

After about an hour, we returned to the dock and disembarked.  I stepped down to the river bank and dipped my hand in, so I could say that I have touched the waters of the Euphrates River. We drove back along the river bank the way we had come, stopping for a delicious Turkish lunch at a restaurant overlooking the water. The meal began with bread served hot out of a traditional oven, followed by a delicious salad of fresh, locally grown vegetables. For the main course, I enjoyed fresh grilled trout; other members of the group chose lamb kebabs or Euphrates fish kebabs. This was one of the many highlights of our tour of southeastern and central Turkey.

Read more about Smithsonian Journeys’ Ancient Worlds of Anatolia tour here.

Turkey’s Loggerhead Turtles

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

Janet Jones, Smithsonian Journeys Study Leader

Janet Jones is Professor of Classics at Bucknell University. Janet is an active field archaeologist specializing in Greek and Roman art and architecture, ancient urbanization, ancient technology with a focus on ancient glass production, and ancient environmental issues. She has published widely on the history of technology and is a frequent lecturer at universities and museums. This summer, she led a Smithsonian group around some of Turkey’s landmark classical sites and remarkable coastline. See her post from the trip below:

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A loggerhead turtle in Dalyon in the Mugla province of southwestern Turkey

A loggerhead turtle gets a morning meal. (Photo by author.)

Visits to Turkey always include astonishing cultural treasures, impressive archaeological sites, extraordinary landscapes, delectable meals, and friendly people. But loggerhead turtles? I hadn’t expected them. But there they were, four of them the morning we visited, getting a morning meal as we watched from the flat bottomed boat that had brought us down through the marshes from Dalyon to the platforms of the blue crab fisherman who share some of their catch with the local turtles to the delight of visitors.

Dalyon, in the Mugla province of southwestern Turkey, is named for the fishing weirs that guarantee a steady supply of bass, mullet, and sea bream to local markets. It’s a comfortable little town with a big statue of sea turtles in the main square and a beautiful park running along the Dalyan Cayi, the small river that flows down through the marshes to the sea. In ancient times, this river was known as the Calbys and marked the boundary between the ancient kingdoms of Lycia and Caria.

On a day trip from our four day cruise on gulets in the Bay of Fethiye, our group arrived at the Dalyan riverside to the sight of a flotilla of gaily decorated and Turkish-carpeted flat bottomed boats, waiting to take groups of visitors on a tour of the local marshes. Our boat passed alluring riverside cafes on the way to our first photo-stop, a cliff with imposing rock-cut tombs. Our boat then wound past the beautiful ruins of the ancient seaport of Kaunos. As we neared the mouth of the river, our boat passed through a gate in one of the fishing weirs (lowered for passing boats by an attendant) and emerged into an open lagoon in the lee of the barrier island. This island, Iztuzu Beach, serves both as protected nesting area and as an award-winning eco-friendly beach. The island is home to a research, rescue, and rehabilitation center that studies the loggerhead (Caretta caretta) and cares for injured turtles from the entire coast region.

The founding of this protected area is a heartening story of the victory of conservation over what had been minimally controlled development along this coast. In 1986, when plans for a resort hotel complex on Iztuzu Beach surfaced, the international outcry together with the request of Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh, who was then President of the World Wildlife Fund, resulted not only in the suspension of the hotel project, but in the prohibition of construction and the establishment of a Special Environmental Protection Area (SEPA) covering 461 square meters in the region. This was the first protected area of its kind in Turkey, and it has since been joined by 13 other such protected areas. The wider Köyceğiz-Dalyan SEPA provides safe haven not only for loggerhead turtles but for, among others, the Nile turtle, a variety of herons and egrets, the European glass lizard, the rock nuthatch, the blue rock-thrush, the European roller, the Eurasian reed warbler, and sections of Turkish sweetgum and pine forests.

That day in the marshes was a bounty for the senses as we gazed at the enormous loggerheads gliding around our boat, breathed in the fragrance of the salt marsh, and listened to the wind in the reeds and the roar of the ocean beyond the narrow strip of sand.

A Smithsonian Journeys Group at the fishing weirs in Dalyon, Turkey

Life in the marshes. At the fishing weirs in Dalyon. (Photo by author.)

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Learn more about Smithsonian Journeys’ Legendary Turkey and the Turquoise Coast trip here, and check out Janet Jones’ upcoming trips.

A Journey to the Past Through Turkey

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

Smithsonian Study Leader Kevin Daly teaches ancient languages, archeology, and history and Bucknell University. Daly has excavated in Greece for over 15 years (primarily at the Athenian Agora) and is now co-directing an excavation at Thebes, the mythical home of Oedipus and Hercules. Here, he shares his thoughts from a recent journey through Turkey with Smithsonian Journeys travelers.

Vaulted Substructure of the Apollo Temple at Claros. Photo: Kevin Daly.

This trip to Turkey has been filled with both the familiar and the novel. It had been some time since I had seen sites like Troy and Ephesus, while the Lycian sites and a gulet passage are entirely new to me. The itinerary has brought views of cities both thriving and ruined. Nowhere was the contrast more vivid for me than what we saw in the bustling, modern city of Izmir and the isolated, ancient oracular site of Claros.

The "Ghost Village" of Kayaköy. Photo: Kevin Daly.

The “Ghost Village” of Kayaköy. Photo: Kevin Daly.

Claros was an addition to the schedule that our guide, Akyn, and I thought would add a lot to our itinerary. We had the shrine to ourselves, and as a group we were able to talk intensely and hands-on about ancient temple building, sacrifice, and inscriptions. While Akyn and I had seen Claros before, the fresh eyes and questions of our travelers helped us see it anew. Besides being a treat in itself, this quiet moment at a remote site helped prepare us for the awe-inspiring and busy site of Ephesus.

View back toward the gulets from St. Nicholas Monastery Island.

View back toward the gulets from St. Nicholas Monastery Island. Photo: Kevin Daly

While our trip was a healthy blend of the modern, the old, and the ancient, my own interests and the interests of the group tended to pull us toward all things archaeological. But daily life intervened regularly, and this intervention was extremely revelatory to us all. Of course in a very real sense daily life quickly enters the archaeological record: a coin is dropped, a house is demolished, or a pipe is laid.

At the same time the present can help us recapture past days. While the Great Fire at Izmir/Smyrna forever altered the landscape of that city, we found echoes of what it must have been like in our strolls through the Old City of Antalya. Our gondola ride to the top of the site of Pergamon elicited questions concerning ancient travel, defense, and hydraulic engineering. The displacement of travel makes these interactions between new and old all the more intense. If Hartley was right in writing that “the past is a foreign country,” we have had a wonderful double journey every day.

Click here for Q&A with Kevin Daly and here to learn more about tour tours to Turkey.