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
7. Day 5: Colossae and Perga
8. Day 6: The Galatians
Today we covered the central locations to which Paul sent his letter to the Galatians. The F. F. Bruce dating would put the letter as Paul's first, around AD49. I date it to the early 50s, probably from Ephesus.
So our morning began in Isparta at the Otel Balat (if I'm remembering the hotel correctly). By now we were used to the call to prayer going off before dawn. I believe the hotel had 7 floors (a walk out balcony with our rooms), and breakfast was on the top floor with the usual fare. It seemed very quiet except for the raucous Americans. I wondered if the others were being quiet to listen to us.
Antioch of Pisidia (Yalvach)
A couple blocks north and a right on Ataturk Boulevard and we were on 330, which took us northeast out of Isparta and headed toward Yalvach, up the right side of Lake Eğidir. There's a left turn at 320 after you've left the lake behind--no doubt there were clear signs for Yalvach.
I failed to mention that there was some pretty impressive mountain driving the night before going to Isparta... big drop.
Yalvach is not a big town. There was a brown sign signaling a right turn for Antioch out at 320. But unless we missed them, the signs dried up there. We followed a stream running through town... way too far. If you get to the playground, you've gone too far. We ended up one or two very picturesque villages beyond town, and someone kindly pointed us back in the right direction.
Basically, we should have kept left when the road crossed the creek rather than continuing to follow the river. There was a colorful orange house immediately on the road to the left where we should have turned. Perhaps less than a kilometer in this direction is, I think, a brown sign pointing to the right and the ruin is right there, at the edge of town, back to the right on the hillside.
Entrance is 3 lira a person. I don't know if he's still living but the Turkish archaeologist who excavated most of the site used to live in the house right above the entrance: Mehmet Tashlialan. Keith Drury has a signed copy of his book on the site. Both KD and Steve Lennox once went around the site with him and had tea till midnight.
This is another one that Keith has watched grow and grow, although perhaps a little more slowly since there is a specific archaeologist involved. I sketched a diagram of the site:
|Layout of Pisidian Antioch|
We entered at the West Gate area. There was the familiar Roman road coming in from the south. Straight ahead you can see "St. Paul's Church." The archaeologist suggested to Keith once upon a time that it was built on a Jewish synagogue. Acts 13 gives us Paul preaching a sermon in the synagogue here. We do know that the archbishop at this church attended the Council of Constantinople in 381, the council that finalized the Nicene Creed.
|St. Paul's Church, Pisidian Antioch|
If you take the first turn right after you come into the site, you are on the Decumanus Maximus.
You will see what's left of the (Greek) theater.
|Theater at Pisidian Antioch|
The Decumanus Maximus currently dead ends and you turn left onto the Cardo Maximus. It passes a central church on the left and goes down to a Nymphaeum where there was a fountain. Water comes in from a nearby lake by way of an aqueduct...
|Aqueduct at Pisidian Antioch|
... but the pressure is so great that Roman cities had "nymphaea" to depressurize it. Basically, they shot it up into the air by way of fountains, if I understand correctly. Then water in a pool pushed out through a hole in the bottom into pipes that ran underneath the roads and took water into the city.
Of most interest to me was the Temple of Augustus here--you take a right at the central church on the Cardo Maximus. That leads to a set of steps that used to be at a Propylon Gate leading up to the temple.
|Propylon stairs leading to Temple of Augustus (Pisidian Antioch)|
What is significant about this Propylon gate is that it had a copy of Augustus' "res gestae" in which he recounted his accomplishments as emperor. It is here that he self-describes as "son of god." The Temple of Augustus here is fascinating because it was carved out of the side of the mountain. They just cut away all the rock around what is left, leaving a temple.
|Temple of Augustus (Pisidian Antioch)|
All in all, what a great site, completely unexpected. The people at the entrance weren't particularly friendly, but the site was wonderful. Dave wished we had seen if the archaeologist was home before we began. Maybe he would have shown us around the site.
Iconium is now Konya, a fairly large city. We backtracked out of Yalvach the way we came, turned east (left) onto 695 a short way to 300 and continued down to Konya. It's a bit of a drive but fairly flat. We stopped along the way for some lunch from our supplies.
|On way to Konya|
300 blurs into 330. The approach to Konya involves a large, curving drop in altitude, but it's a good road. Konya's huge. The main attraction is the Mevlana museum where the Sufi mystic who founded the whirling dervishes was. It's easy to find by following the brown signs with the dancing priest on it.
|Konya's Whirling Dervishes|
On the other hand, getting back out of the center of a city like Konya is a taller order. I believe we headed back north, ended up on 330 going west. We did pass some ruins that looked Roman but, alas, a bus got in the way of a good shot.
|Konya - almost Iconium|
By the way, Iconium is the location for an early legend about Paul and a young woman named Thecla, who followed him around and shared the good news. There is apparently a Konya museum with some artifacts from the Roman ruins of the area as well (maybe the ethnographic museum?).
By far Lystra was the hardest of all the sites to find. We had a harder time with Colossae but we shouldn't have. Meanwhile, Lystra is genuinely hard to find. The Garman didn't even have any roads in it for this area southwest of Konya. Even when we got to the site, the Garman only had a dot in the middle of nothing, based on the latitude and longitude Keith had plugged in.
Ross' iPad was a godsend. Perhaps I wasn't focusing in far enough, but it didn't seem to have the roads either. It had some villages on it that we knew from our paper map, and we basically made sure that the blue dot on the iPad kept lined up properly as Dave Ward sped on a back road through section after section of Konya and finally into the countryside.
So here's my advice on finding it. First, don't go late in the day. You don't want to be stuck in the middle of nowhere after dark. The farmer across from the mound was very friendly once he saw our genuine interest, and we ended up staying about an hour after seeing the site for tea. You want to get going well before dark so you can find your way back to 715 in the daylight. We ended up trying to negotiate these roads as it turned dark.
Basically, you want to head south from the center until you hit Antalya Road (696). Turn right until you are just about out of town and then turn left onto Hatip Road, going south again. Lystra is south. The villages you are headed toward are Hatip and Hatunsaray. Hatunsaray is the village closest to Lystra.
So you take Hatip Road and pass Hatip. Now it's called Hatunsaray Road (Caddesi). You go through Gödene and keep going south. Just before Bayat, you take the right fork (if I remember correctly, we didn't even see the left possibility--it just seemed to curve to the right).
At Hatunsaray, there is a fork. Take the right one--the familiar brown sign is there for Lystra--and you'll immediately see the mound off to the left. It's about 20 miles south of Konya.
|Lystra mound from the back side|
He seemed frustrated that people would come and then leave. He may not have understood their method. Archaeologists often uncover a little and then cover it back up so that no one will disturb the site or steal from it.
|Remain at Lystra|
It is amazing to think that this whole area, perhaps as much as a square mile, was once a prominent Roman city. This was Timothy's home town, where his mother Eunice and grandmother Lois lived. Paul was stoned here and thought to be dead (Acts 14).
|Lystra looking down on Memesh's farm|
After we went all the way around, Memesh invited us for tea at his one room house. He had invited us to put our rental car in his driveway. When we arrived, his wife was (perhaps nervously) reading the Qur'an. But she began to smile after we started to talk about children. She had one son who was a teacher.
He made and sold tiles. He made his own bread. He farmed the land, perhaps for others. He used his cell phone to tell others we were there. People honked as they passed.
|Memesh at Lystra|
We finally left just before dark and found ourselves on a red dirt road that isn't on anyone's map, headed east over a big hill. Dave and I got a little nervous because a car started following us, matching our acceleration. Ross and Keith didn't know what was going on and joked about how big of a hurry Dave seemed to be in. Finally the car turned around. There was nowhere to turn off. They just stopped following us and headed back to their village.
We'll never know exactly what was going on. Dave figured that there are rednecks in every country. Keith wondered if they were trying to help some lost folk. Whatever, the dirt road finally connected with a paved road on the other side of the hill and we wandered into Icherichumra and back south again on 715.
Next time, I would leave by turning south on Hatunsaray Road again and take it to Akören (maybe 10 miles). There I would turn left until hitting 715, passing through Alibeyhuyugu (maybe 15 miles).
It was well dark by the time we got to 715. There was no hotel in Icherichumra that we could find. We drove another 50 minutes south to Karaman. Although several gas stations along the way seemed to have hotel buildings, none of them were operating.
At Karaman, still a little freaked out, we asked directions to a hotel. A young man offered to show us and had Keith get in the back of his car. That was a little freaky, especially when he stopped at a side road and Keith found out there was no handle to get out of the back seat. But the man drove another 100 yards and there was a hotel.
The young man turned out to be another trail angel. He spoke some English, set us up with the hotel clerk, even gave us his phone number in case we had any problems. So a night of paranoia without any reason...