Our next stop was Ephesus
(Efes), often considered to be the best preserved classical city. Ephesus was settled by
the Ionians ~1000 BCE, and became a great trading and religion city. It was the
centre for the cult of Cybele, the Anatolian fertility goddess who became
Artemis in the Greek pantheon and Diana in the Roman pantheon. Ephesus
was part of the Kingdom
of Lydia, who were
apparently the first to invent coins (~650 BCE), and then all types of games
during an 18 year famine, to take their mind off being hungry.
During the Roman Empire Ephesus was the second largest city in the Eastern
Mediterranean (after Alexandria).
The city was beautiful to walk through. We entered in the top half of the city,
and strolled down the main street, the Arcadian Way. The buildings were mostly
made from marble, which Ephesus
was famous for, supplying it to other Roman cities. The Arcadian Way is said to be the first road
to have street lights (400 CE), and other streets in the city have holes in the
paving where temporary street lights could be placed during festivals. The Arcadian Way was
the richer area of the city, with a small covered Odeon (with 2000 people) that
was sponsored by the owner of the local brothel. This upper part of the city
also had the senate, and the Arcadian
Way meets the Marble Way at a few steps and the
Hercules Arch to prevent the traffic of the lower city from reaching the
pedestrian-only upper city.
From the archway, the Marble Way
ran down to the Celsuis Library, which was built in 125 CE as a tomb to Julius
Celsius, the governor of the Roman Province of Asia. It
wasn’t completed before his death, but was originally finished and converted to
a library. It became the third largest in the ancient world, with 12 000
scrolls. Across the road from the library is the brothel. Excavators found a
tunnel linking the two, and explained it by saying that the men used it as a
way to surreptitiously visit the brothel, but recent excavations indicate that
it is actually just part of the sewer system. The sewer system was one of the
major achievements of the city, running under the road to pipe out sewage 6km
away to the ocean (it was extended after several plagues wiped the city out a
couple of times). Near the brothel is the Baths of Scolastica, with a frigidarium,
tepidarium, caldarium and apoliterium (‘changing room’,
but mostly used as a meeting area and the biggest part of the baths). The baths
included a public toilet, with rows of toilet seats cut into the marble
benches, so that everyone could talk to each other while going to the bathroom.
There is also a larger theatre, seating 25000, and the Agora trading area for
general goods, and a smaller trading area for luxuries.
We also visited the Temple of the Great Mother
Cybele, later the Temple of Artemis, and originally four times larger than the
Parthenon in Athens.
Antipater of Sidon (2nd century BCE) described the Temple of Artemis in his
guidebook, famous as the Seven Wonders of the World: I have set eyes on the
wall of lofty Babylon on which is a road for chariots, and the statue of Zeus
by the Alpheus, and the hanging gardens, and the colossus of the Sun, and the
huge labour of the high pyramids, and the vast tomb of Mausolus; but when I saw
the house of Artemis that mounted to the clouds, those other marvels lost their
brilliancy, and I said, 'Lo, apart from Olympus, the Sun never looked on aught
(anything) so grand. It was burnt down on July 21st 356 BCE by a
man wanting eternal fame for the destruction of the most beautiful building in
the world. This was the night that Alexander the Great was born, and it was
said she was watching the birth and therefore couldn’t protect her temple. The
Ephesians announced that his name was never to be recorded for the act, but a
visiting Greek tells us it was Herostratus. After Alexander the Great conquered
rebuilt the temple. It was later sacked by Nero, rebuilt, sacked by the Goths
in the 3rd century CE, rebuilt, and finally destroyed by the Christians. When I
saw it there was only a single standing column left, with a pair of storks
nesting on the top.
In the afternoon after Ephesus
we visited Sirince, a small Greek Orthodox village that has been there since
500 BCE. We bought peach wine, which we later drank while watching Pulp
Fiction in the hotel during a beautiful sunset.
The following day we drove to Gallipoli, via the ruins of Troy. There was a tacky giant wooden horse out the front (which Michelle and Tamara
climbed), then we walked around the old ruins. There are actually the ruins of
seven cities of Troy
on the same cite, dating back thousands upon thousands of years. The Troy of
fame, when Menelaus the King of Sparta destroyed Troy to avenge the slight of
Paris eloping with Helen, using Odysses’ (the smartest of the Greek heroes)
plan of the Trojan horse (which Cassandra foresaw, but was ignored on), was
originally thought to be myth. However Heinrich Schliemann unearthed the ruins
of Troy in
1871, and it is now thought that one of the cities (Troy IV) was destroyed in
1250 BCE, and was the setting for the Trojan War. With the trees mantled in
spring blossoms, it was hard to picture the site of enormous carnage due to
Speaking of carnage due to hubris, we then crossed the Dardanelles to reach Europe on the Gallipoli Peninsular. The whole invasion of
Gallipoli was just stupid. The Ottoman Turks had payed the British to built
them two battleships to protect their empire. When WWI started, the British
reneged on their contract, told the Turks they were keeping the Battleships and
refused to give them their money back. They then told Istanbul
to invade Germany
with them. The Kaiser then treated them politely and offered them two German
Battleships, and Turkey
joined on the side of Germany.
Such a tragedy, in the Greek sense of the word. The British sent Battleships up
the Dardanelles to scare Istanbul
into submission, but the mines in the straits, supported by the forts of
Gallipoli, sunk three battleships and badly damaged three more. More ships,
lost than the British wanted to save, and hundreds dead. So on the 25th
of April, the British and French tried to take the forts by land, to clear the
way for the navy. The mostly British force, along with the French, Australians
and New Zealanders landed before dawn on the small beaches, and fought against
machine gun fire to take the beach heads. Tens of thousands killed in hours. It
is often said that they landed in the wrong place, having to run up steep
sand-dunes carrying 30kg packs and weapons, however it has been recently put
forward that the Admiral in charge actually changed his mind at the last
minute, and invaded there on purpose. The Turks were expecting invasion, and
only the small beaches were poorly guarded.
Whatever the disregard for human life, the plan essentially worked. They took
the beaches and the original positions, and pushed forward to the Nek, the
highest point from where they could take the whole peninsular. The Turks were
retreating in surprise until they reached Mustafa Kemal, who ordered them
around with the famous orders “I am not sending you there to fight, I am
sending you there to die”. Wave upon wave of Turkish soldiers went forward and
died, on the bloodiest day 10 000 died.
Mustafa Kemal succeeded in holding the invasion back, and essentially during
the next eight months the battle lines didn’t change again. Instead it became a
slow trench warfare. The ANZACs dug miles of trenches, creating 372km of
trenches along the 7km front. The Turks, to stop the shelling from the ANZACs
built their trenches only 5-8m away. Close enough that they could yell at each
other, and even swap food. The Turks used to throw tobacco over in return for
paper, so both sides could smoke. Every night one Turkish solider walked
between the trenches picking up tobacco and paper that fell in the middle. He
was an icon to the ANZACs, who never shot him, until one day a new regiment
moved in and killed him on their first night.
Mustafa Kemal won the battle, and the Ottomans lost the war. He then went back
to Istanbul and lead a war of independence
against the monarchy, a long bloody affair, and founded the Republic of Turkey.
He is still considered to be Attaturk, the Father of the Turks, and his
brooding face is common on sculptures across the country.
Gallipoli was a very moving place. Quiet and still, the entire peninsular kept
as a historic natural monument. We walked along the trenches, barbed wire still
lining them, visited the graves and the monuments, and Anzac Cove. In the small
museum they had letters from dead soldiers, men drafted away from their
families, wanting to be back with their loved ones. There were piles of bullets
that were fused together, as the air was so thick with gunfire that many
collided in mid-air. A skull with the bullet still stuck in the middle of the
forehead. Recruitment posters “Free tour to Great
Britain and Europe –
chance of a lifetime”.
So hideous. These men were victims as much as they were heroes. 500 000
wounded and 100 000 killed. Lives destroyed in such a terrible terrible waste.
I just wish we could remember the horror, and never repeat it.