The Pilgrimage: Turkey, Part Fifteen

Ephesos is the Greek name for the city (Ephesus the Latin one), and it refers to bees, hence the bee on the coin.The patron deity of the city, Artemis is represented on the other side of the coin, by the deer or stage. The Roman name for this deity was Diana, the goddess of the hunt. In Ephesos however the emphasis seems to have been on Artemis as a goddess of health, hygiene, fertility.The city of Ephesos was nestled between two harbors and involves a couple of long streets that … [Read more...]

The Pilgrimage: Turkey, Part Fourteen

The ride from Aphrodisias to Kushadasi is not terribly long, and along the way we stopped at my favorite leather factory, Kircilar.They make the very best leather coats and jackets, and wallets and belts and purses etc. out of lambskin. It's beautiful stuff, and my groups always enjoy this stop, not least because two of them at least get drafted to model these items on the runway show,complete with the usual bouncy runway music. A good time is had by all. For those not interested the … [Read more...]

The Pilgrimage: Turkey, Part Thirteen

A trip to Aphrodisias is always a treat as it is a truly spectacular site, and now it sports the best museum related to the growth of the Imperial Cult in the first two centuries. In order to understand the relevance of this to NT studies one needs to recognize only two recent historical persons were being called God in the first or second century, either the Emperor or Jesus. There is then a case to be made that these two figures were the basis of two rather new religions, competing ones. I … [Read more...]

The Pilgrimage: Turkey, Part Twelve

Down and across the Lycus valley from Hierapolis is Laodicea.This city was famous in antiquity, and famously had a water problem, not lukewarm water but brackish water. It was a huge city with two major theaters (one for morning one for afternoon performances depending on where the sun was) and a stadium, and it has become a huge dig, the most active ambitious dig perhaps in all of Turkey. Just reconstructing the streets in itself is an enormous task Here for example is Syria Street … [Read more...]

The Pilgrimage: Turkey Part Eleven

The Lycus Valley is a large,long, lush valley which includes three ancient cities of importance for Christianity--- Hierapolis (which we will visit first), Laodicea, and Colossae (which we will not visit, as no dig has ever transpired there, and there is just a small mound of dirt there. We have found evidence of an odeon there sticking out of the side of the hill, but that's it).Hierapolis is important as a center of early Christianity, including the final home of Philip and his … [Read more...]

The Pilgrimage: Turkey, Part Ten

The Temple of Artemis at Sardis is not to be confused with the one at Ephesus. Indeed, there were several different Artemises, one more a fertility goddess, another rather like Diana the goddess of the hunt, and so on. Here is a sign to get us oriented in regard to the one in Sardis.Here's the shot as one approaches the site...The setting of this temple is gorgeous, in a valley surrounded by mountains,Here's a beautiful catalpa tree, .A word here about the stone masons … [Read more...]

The Pilgrimage: Turkey, Part Nine

The big three sites to go see among the seven churches of revelation are Ephesus, Pergamon, Sardis, to which one must now add a fourth, Laodicea, because of the amazing archaeological work done there in the last five years. In this blog post and the next we must focus on Sardis. We will look at the major part of this site first, which includes the shops, synagogue and gymnasium complex. In the next post we will focus on the Temple of Artemis, which is a half mile away.Like most of … [Read more...]

The Pilgrimage: Turkey, Part Eight

The god Asklepius was in many ways one of the most important of all Greco-Roman deities, and this was true all over the Mediterranean world. Health and healing in a world full of disease and death, before modern medicine, was an urgent matter. The symbol of the god Asklepius you will be familiar with-- it is the snake curled around the staff which we still see today on the AMA logo, among other places. Notice for example how Galen, one of the early famous doctors, who came from Pergamon is … [Read more...]

The Pilgrimage: Turkey, Part Seven

Izmir is a beautiful seaside city of three million. There is however not much to see here in terms of the seven churches of Revelation. So we moved on to Pergamon, where there is a ton to see both on the Acropolis and in the Asklepion complex below. It will take a couple of blog posts to work through the Pergamon material.The modern name of the city is Bergama, and it was a much more important place in antiquity than it is today. It was a much bigger city as well. It takes a couple of hours … [Read more...]