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Back from Turkey


Hello everyone! I am very pleased to return home safely (thank you God). This trip was part of a class I’m taking at Boston University so the ten days were packed with day trips, lectures, and study. Here was our itinerary (links go to pictures; for the short videos, click here):

Thursday (March 4)
-depart from Boston’s Logan Int’l. Airport @ 7:45pm

Friday (March 5)
-layover in Munich, Germany
-arrive in Izmir, Turkey
-bus to Selçuk, Turkey (Selçuk is the small city right next to ancient ruins of Ephesos. It is like a tourist town, where many of the people make a living from selling carpets, scarves, jewelery, and other souvenirs. Oh yeah, and the most amazing baklava on planet earth. We stayed at the Homeros Pension–a Turkish style hotel, which was very hospitable and accommodating. We got to Selçuk in the evening and had–of all things–pizza as our first meal in Turkey. It took over an hour for them to make enough pizza for the 15 of us.)

Saturday (March 6)
-tour of Ephesos (Prof. Walters presented on the Serapis Temple)
-tour of Ephesos Museum (including the infamous statue of Artemis)
-a brief foray into the Saturday market where I bought a “genuine fake” watch (since my cell-phone was no longer useful for telling the time).
Crisler Library (this was our HQ for the trip, where we would meet up, have lectures, or study. The American woman who runs it, Janet, was extremely hospitable.)

Sunday (March 7)
Priene (a city on a hill…we successfully located an ancient synagogue, among other things)
Didyma (the Apollo Temple was designed by the same person who did the Artemis Temple in Ephesos, which has very few remains now…so by looking at the Apollo Temple we were able to get a good idea of the Artemis Temple, which we saw later in the week)
Miletus (a town near the sea, mostly underwater when we visited. cf. Acts 20)

Monday (March 8 )
-Lecture on Artemision (i.e. Artemis Temple) by Ulrike Muss
-trip to Artemision (the remains of the “great” Artemis temple of Ephesos were a short walk from the Crisler Library in Selçuk)
St John’s Church (this Byzantine church–patronized by Justinian and Theodora–was a stone’s throw from the Homeros Pension where we were staying in Selçuk)

Tuesday (March 9)
Claros (excavation is mostly underwater)
Smyrna (in the midst of Izmir, the agora is preserved along with some graffiti going back to 2nd and 1st centuries)
Sardis (synagogue, gymnasium/bath complex, and Artemis Temple)

Wednesday (March 10)
-hike to the so-called Cave of Paul and Thecla (on Bulbuldag overlooking Ephesos)
-putz around Ephesos for an hour or so (since my site presentation was set for the Library of Celsus, that’s where I went…also check out the video)
Church of St. Mary (where the council of a.d. 431 was held condemning Nestorius)
-Church/tombs of the Seven Sleepers (a Christian myth about people who fell asleep for many years and woke up again later, this video should probably have Mission Impossible music paired with it).
-So-called House of Mary (about a 30min bus ride into the mountains from Ephesos, there is a house that is claimed to be the very house Mary stayed in, though even the priest didn’t seem totally sure–watch the video if you’re curious).
-Lecture on Aphrodisias & Empire by James Walters

Thursday (March 11)
Aphrodisias (a city which benefited from the exchange of benefaction by Zoilos, a freed and extremely wealthy slave of the imperial family)
-Aphrodisias synagogue inscription (a list of donors w/ Jews on the top of the list and the God-fearers on the second list, this was in a highly restricted area. The inscription confirms the suspicion based on Acts that God-fearers were Gentiles interested in Judaism but not converts)
-Aphrodisias Museum (including the hall of fame where all the nations the Romans conquered were listed)

Friday (March 12)
-Presentations by students at Ephesos
   :Basilika Presentation by Elizabeth
   : Prytaneon Presentation by Jonah
   : North Agora/temple Presentation by M-Yung
   : Bouleterion/Odeion Presentation by Jim
   : Tomb of Polio/Fountain of Domitian by S-Dok
   : Domitian Temple Presentation by Sunmin
   : So-called Hadrian Temple Presentation by Nathan
   : Kelsos Library Presentation by me (see the video, and this one too. After this recording my camera was full)
   : Tetragonos Agora Presentation by Nizzy
   : Theatre Presentation by Erin
   : Bath/Gymnasium Complex Presentation by Daniel
(the other students presented at other sites on previous days)

Saturday (March 13)
-Lecture by Hilke Thur
Slope Houses Tour (these rich houses are covered with a multi-million dollar roof to keep the intricate frescos and mosaics safe from the elements)
-shopping at the Saturday market/bazaar

Sunday-Monday (March 14-15)
-3:45 a.m. meet bus @ Crisler Library and begin traveling to Izmir to catch the plane
-7 a.m. plane departs from Izmir heading for Munich, Germany
-3:30 p.m. (+ one hour difference) depart Munich for Boston
-7:30 p.m. (+ six hour difference) arrive in Bangor, Maine due to severe winds and rain at Boston
-11:00 p.m. deplane (after sitting for more than two hours on the runway waiting for more information)
-1:00 a.m. finished w/ imigration and customs we board buses which will drive through the night to get us to Boston
-5:00 a.m. arrive at Boston’s Logan Int’l airport
-5:45 a.m. first bus arrives to get to commuter rail
-6:25 a.m. first commuter rail departs for Providence
-7:35 a.m. arrive in Providence at the train station
-7:45 a.m. after nearly 35 hours of travel I am reunited with Ruth and the boys who picked me up
(sorry to be so detailed here, but it is therapeutic as I’m still working through the trauma 😉

To see all of the pictures I took, they are now online, listed by day and location (http://picasaweb.google.com/108414731026541712566).

To see all of the videos I took, they are now online. Most of them are pretty short and a bit shaky. My camera was set in some weird black & white mode (except for green which came through brightly) until the last day when I figured out how to fix it. I recommend the tour of Ephesos series towards the end. http://seanandruth.com/video/

The trip was a tremendously enriching time both spiritually and intellectually. There were a handful of moments when I had pilgrimage epiphanies, like the first time I went to the Agora in Ephesos and I realized the apostle Paul was there, likely selling tents and sharing the gospel with others. Intellectually the trip really helped me to calibrate my sense of the Roman world in which Christianity thrived in the early centuries. In particular, I came to understand polytheism, idolatry, and temples much better, which in turn, made early Christianity seem much more radical than I had previously realized (cf. 1 Cor. 8, where Paul writes “we know that an idol is nothing”). I’m still working out the implications and expect to be able to use what I have learned as a backdrop for reading Acts and the Church Epistles.

2 Responses to “Back from Turkey”

  1. on 20 Mar 2010 at 3:23 pmRay

    Sean, I was wondering how old the architecture is that we see in the above photo. Was it a pagan temple?

    It seems that whatever God does, there seems to be some kind of copy or imitation of it somewhere in the world. The first temple of God must have been really something, the things being of some kind of representation of heavenly things.

    Pagon temples then, ….misrepresentations.

  2. on 21 Mar 2010 at 7:12 amSean


    The backdrop of the group picture is the Library of Celsus. The statues represent the wisdom, virtue, understanding, and knowledge of Celsus. Originally it held as many as 12,000 scrolls. Also, Celsus was buried beneath it (he is still there). To watch a short video about this library, click here.


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