Turkish Odyssey Part One

So here I am in downtown Antalya Turkey with my old pal Kermie. Antalya is one of twelve or so cities in Turkey of a million people. There was a meeting of ACEME pastors– pastors of American Churches abroad, from Berlin, Copenhagen, Helsinki, Paris, London, Tokyo, Brussels and lots of other places. They get together once a year for a conference, and this year it was in Antalya, a beautiful south coast resort town in Turkey. They get together for some fellowship, food, fun, learning, and some touring. I and my friend Mark Wilson (see the next picture below) were invited to do the teaching and touring with them. It was a lot of fun.

The first bit of touring that we did was to visit the Via Sebaste, the Roman Road north of Antalya that Paul and Barnabas would have walked down on that first missionary journey. Parts of it are still in remarkable shape, as you will now see.

We build roads and they are rubbish within a year or two. The Romans built roads, and they are still usable…. albeit bumpy. Here’s one other shot of the Via Sebaste…


In an honor and shame culture, there are interesting things you will find along the highway. Not signs for the next pizza joint, but mile markers telling you its only 139 more Roman miles to Psidian Antioch, for example… here is one such Roman mile marker…

More to the point, in terms of honor and shame, you find honorific columns like the one Mark Wilson is standing next to in the picture above, and here is a close up of the inscription, which was found my Mark in his perambulations around Turkey. It’s in Latin first and then Greek and tells of the person who repaired the road and was keeping up the maintenance (your tax dollars at work).

You might be surprised however as to what else would be beside the road that Paul and Barnabas walked down— namely sarcophagi.

In the Greco-Roman world, immortality was often seen as amounting to remembering someone’s name and reputation, even after they were gone. So, to make sure people didn’t forget about you, you’d have your sarcophagus, often with a grave inscription, set up where it would be prominently in view— say, beside the Via Sebaste. If you think ancient people didn’t care about what you thought of them after they were gone, you’d be dead wrong 🙂

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