Sunday, June 09, 2013

Turkey Day 4: Ephesus and Laodicea

Turkey in 10 Days
1. General Remarks
2. What to Bring
3. Day 1: Traveling There
4. Day 2: Troy
5. Day 3: Pergamum, Thyatira, Philadelphia, Sardis, Smyrna 

6. Day 4: Ephesus and Laodicea
The benefit of driving on from Izmir so late was that we did not have far to go to get to Selchuk and Ephesus. The once loud gas station was very peaceful in the morning, and we had our usual breakfast fare of olives, cheese, tomatoes, bread, hard boiled eggs, etc. at the adjoining restaurant.

Not as many smiles from the man in charge there. In all my paranoid glory I always took note when the greeting between men was given in Arabic, "salam alekoom" instead of "merhabah" or "gunaidin" ("good morning").  I always wondered if that meant their primary point of contact was the mosque.

Sunday morning we found ourselves in Ephesus. Today we would hit the last two churches of Revelation.  Ephesus is the crown jewel of all ancient sites in the Mediterranean.  Once you get to Selchuk, the signs and tour buses will get you the rest of the way.  You turn on 515 west off of 550, but it's not like the numbers are anywhere to be seen.

Very quickly after you turn you'll see the brown sign for the Temple of Artemis.  The turn is immediate so it's easy to miss. Don't worry, you can catch it on your way back (although then you'll have to do a U-turn to get back).  Pretty much all that's left is one large column in a swampy area. I like this picture because of the Ottoman castle and contemporary mosque in the background, giving layers of the history of the area.

Temple of Artemis at Ephesus

You need to read Acts 19 before you go to the site.  Ephesus is where the people rioted because Paul was cutting into their idol business.  The Temple of Artemis was one of the Seven Wonders of the World at the time, and the legend was that an image of Artemis (apparently a meteorite) had fallen from the sky. We'll see the theater in a moment where Acts says the mob was shouting praises to Artemis.

The amount of material they have unearthed at Ephesus is simply astounding. Took my breath away the first time I was there with Wilbur Williams.

Curetes Way looking toward Celsus Library

If you come on a cruise ship, they will drive you down from Izmir and give you 3 hours to walk the thing, usually from about 10 to 1 I would guess. Buses let the people off at the top and let them walk down through the site. It's enough time if you don't have an in depth interest or need to space out the cramming. Buying a bottle of water to carry with you is not a bad idea. There are no shops or stands once you get inside. It's a 25 lira admission.

We got there early and decided to start at the bottom, go up to the top, have lunch, and come back down. The only problem here is that they don't really want you to leave the site until you are leaving the site.  There is a cafe at the top, but the food I wanted was outside.  I loved Turkish doner kebabs in Germany, but every one I had in Turkey was genuine lamb, which I don't enjoy so much.  They will let you out and back in if you ask to use the restroom.  Keith and Dave "used the bathroom" for about a half hour. :-)

If you enter at the bottom, you are immediately struck by the theater, where the riot of Acts 19 takes place.

Theater at Ephesus

Quite astounding to think that Paul was here in Ephesus for almost three years, that he walked these streets. This is the very theater of the riot in Acts 19.  Amazing!

Straight ahead from the theater is the Harbor Road, which went down to the sea in Paul's day, although silt has filled in the bay now for miles.  Paul walked this road coming or going on ships.

Harbor Road
Perpendicular to Harbor Road and running south from the theater is the Marble Road.  Leaving the theater, the lower agora, the marketplace, is off to your right.

Marble Road looking toward theater
You can either enter the agora from the theater side or, as I prefer, enter it from the Library of Celsus.  Paul possibly would have sold his tents or leather goods here, although there are also numerous places for shops elsewhere in the city, as we'll see.

Lower Agora at Ephesus
The Library of Celsus was not here at the time of Paul, but has been magnificently reconstructed.  It is unmissable to the right at the end of the Marble Road.

Library of Celsus

Off to the right of this area is the south entrance to the agora/marketplace. The Mazeus-Mithradates gate was here at the time of Paul

Mazeus-Mithradates Gate to Agora

There are several little things to see near the corner of the Celsus library.  Along the Marble Road, maybe half way, you'll find a spot with a heart that, at least I've heard it say, was a place to solicit a prostitute.  Occasionally you see the little circle game carved into the marble.  It looks like a pie.  On the northwest side of the Celsus corner, just starting up the Curetes Road to the left, are the famed public toilets. You could sit on them the last time I was here (Dave Smith has a picture of several of us sitting here) but, alas, no longer.

public toilets at Ephesus

Perpendicular to the Marble Road is the Curetes Road, going upwards and westwards.  Immediately to the right is an area where they are reconstructing some terraced housing for some very rich people, including a high priest.  it was another entry fee to get into the area, maybe 15 lira? Ross and I did it.

I went in because I felt I needed to as a Bible teacher, but it is strictly optional.  You'll see mosaics and frescos, plumbing, baths, and kitchens.  It takes some time to justify the expense.  Here's basically what's under the tent:

Terraced housing exhibit at Ephesus
Shops by terraced houses on south side of Curetes Way

A good deal of the material as you go west up the Curetes Way dates from after Paul's time, although that is not to say that earlier versions weren't there at the time of Paul.  There's stuff up there from Hadrian, Domitian, an odion (little theater).  This upper part of Ephesus appears to have been the administrative district, from which the Romans ruled.  Ephesus was the Roman seat of power from the time of Augustus in 27BC on.

Temple of Domitian

According to tradition, Domitian was the emperor at the time John was here in the 90s.  You might say there are two phases to the Christian presence in Ephesus, the Paul phase and the John phase.  Paul was here in the mid-50s and, according to tradition, Timothy was the first bishop here. I personally don't think there were anything like bishops (as we think of them) that early, however, and the tradition surely is built out of 1 Timothy.  

I believe many of those early traditions grew out of Christians mining the New Testament texts for details just like we do.  In some cases, I'm not sure they had anything more to go on than we do, other than a much richer architectural canvas on which to imagine.  If anything, I suspect they were quite credulous and uncritical in their construction of legends about these sorts of things.

So the tradition that Mary was here with John is fun but probably no more than an imaginative connecting of dots.  John was here in the late first century, a tradition that I find more plausible.  Jesus told John to take care of Mary in John 19.  Therefore, John must have brought Mary here with him.  Legend accrues upon legend.  

Here is the Church of St. Mary, built by Theodosius in the late 300s.  It was here that the Council of Ephesus in 431 took place.

Ruins of Church of St. Mary at Ephesus

The Council was called to address the Nestorian controversy.  Nestorius almost saw Jesus as two persons, like conjoined twins, one divine and one human.  This council affirmed that Jesus was one person.  There was also a "Robber Council" here in 449 that was rejected two years later at Chalcedon (see Day 10). It suggested that Jesus only had one nature, divine.  The orthodox position of Chalcedon is that Jesus is one person with two natures--fully human and fully divine.

There is some archaeology in this church of interest to Christian worship. For example, could you have immersed in this baptismal?  More likely pouring.

Baptismal pool in Church of St. Mary at Ephesus

We briefly hit the Temple of Artemis on our way out of town and headed south.  It is striking to realize that the city extended all the way from the main site out here to the temple--at least a mile I would say.

We went back to Selchuk and took a south turn back on 550.  The star to steer by is Denizli and the road to take east 320.

Headed east to Colossae, Laodicea, and Hierapolis

It was maybe 6 or later by the time we got to the site of Laodicea.  It's right off 585 to the left as you get to the area of Denizli.  Between the brown signs and the latitude/longitude we were now using the Garman for, we had no trouble finding it. This was the first site where our letter from the university paid off.  It is a developing site--no tickets printed yet.  Probably we would have had to pay something to get in otherwise (or not be allowed in?).

The "luke-warm" church of Laodicea was a big surprise.  Keith has seen this place blossom over the last 4 times he's been there--from mound to road to ruins to the beginnings of reconstructed temples.

Laodicea, temple being reconstructed

Behind the beginnings of reconstruction above is a neat glass roof through which you can see below to pillars and other things.  They are really getting the hang of this reconstruction thing, I thought to myself.  Below is another larger temple under reconstruction, and you can see the white rock of Hierapolis in the background.

Reconstruction under way at Laodicea

There's also an unreconstructed (Greek style) theater there.  The Greek style was to built theaters in the side of a hill.  The Romans built them from the ground up with structure.  It will be interesting to see whether these ruins get reconstructed in the days ahead.

Theater at Laodicea

Thus ended the seven churches of Asia in Revelation.  You could do a class on them, spend a whole day at Pergamum, maybe two days at Ephesus.  You might want to hit Colossae briefly since it's so close to Laodicea.  You could go back up through Nicaea and do the councils.  More on these sites in the days to come.

We ended the day at the best hotel of the entire trip.  The Özbay Hotel at Hierapolis, a little town now called Pamukkale.  The signs are easy to follow and it is a left turn off of 585 again, only a smidge further east.  The hotel was almost right across from the white rock of hot springs fame, on the road along the rock. The proprietor of this hotel (who looks like he's from California with pig tail and all) saw us driving and came out to our car.

"How did you know we were looking for a hotel?" we said.

"I've been in the hotel business for a long time," he said.  "I know when someone's looking for a hotel," he said with a smile.

Özbay Hotel

It was here that Ross' hotel price negotiation skills began to come to the fore.  He tricked the owner down to 100 lira a night by "innocently" asking if the room he showed us was the 70 lira a night one instead of the 120 lira a night room.  The guy knew he was beat, shrugged, and gave us the room for 100.

He then set us up with a table of free appetizers which, predictably, led to us paying for supper.  He was just top notch at doing the hotel business thing.

Chay at the Ozbay Hotel at Hierapolis
The night ended with Ross and Dave dipping their feet in the stream by yet another wedding.


Keith Drury said...

Great day--great sites this day!

O yeah…. at the “gas station/motel” there was an earth tremor over night that half of us felt when our beds shook… confirmed the next morning during breakfast when another one shook the earth beneath our feet—a reminder of why few ancient sites lasted long in this part of the world.

John Mark said...

Got to see Ephesus in 2007, I came in by boat. A once in a lifetime experience for me, part of an Israel tour. Would love to go back, but don't think I'll ever have the cash. These kinds of things do make the Bible 'come alive' in a new way.

Dave Ward said...

Oh yes, Keith, the earthquake! I know Troy was destroyed by Earthquake multiple times, but what was the other city that was destroyed by earthquake? Do either of you remember?

Ken was an absolute joy to have on a trip like this. His encyclopedic mind never failed to educate and inform our thoughts. He always has at least three theories in hand on every question you ask. :)

I am privileged to have such a savant for a friend.

Laodicea had a couple large Roman baths. I mention that only as an alternative theory to the traditional hot springs in Hierapolis idea. Perhaps it was the trepidarium (lukewarm transition pool between hot and cold) that the Revelation author was referring to. That's ken's idea as well. :)

Emre said...

Did you not visit the Basilica of St John, just outside Ephesus? Much more impressive than the church of Mary.

Ken Schenck said...

As a note to self, I would like to see Priene and Miletus next time. There are also museums I skipped that should be seen. The Priene inscription is apparently in a museum in Izmir. Also in Istanbul are some of the inscriptions from these sites (e.g., the res gestae of P. Antioch, I think).