It is hard to describe just how beautiful Turkey is in May. The air is crisp, the temp usually in the 70s, the lack of pollution noticeable, the sky Carolina blue, and the flowers and snow capped mountains gorgeous. What’s not to like. This picture and the next one were taken next to the site of an archaeological dig at Altin Tepe a site that has both an ancient Urartu fortress and a much more recent Byzantine Church ruins with dazzling mosaic floor.In the picture with the poppies you can just see the tin roof of the shed which covers the Byzantine floor mosaic.
We arrived at Altintepe early and so I waited at the gate for the workers to come and open the site. Altintepe is about 10 miles east of Erzurum in eastern Turkey and it is well worth the visit. The tel is huge and one is left breathless after the climb to the top of it.
One worker arrived a bit earlier whose name was Halit. Here he is standing at the back gate. Halit kindly shared a cup of tea with me while we waited for the man with the key. Turks in general are very friendly and hospitable and helpful when they can be.
Once in the site we climbed to the top and one of the female workers showed me around. Both she and Halit were tasked with assembling the jigsaw puzzle that is the church floor. There is a schematic of the Byzantine church and a description below.
In another picture below you will see the ancient Urartian temple. One of the regular things one finds at such sites is the way that high places were prized and so used by generation after generation of civilizations even when the culture had drastically changed and the original kingdom long gone. The Byzantines were especially adept at reusing Greco-Roman and earlier stones and constructions for their own Christian purposes.