On 29 April, an intrepid band of ASCSA students, senior associates, and friends of the School set off further east than any ASCSA trip has gone before. Led by the indefatigable John Camp and the lightning-fast Yildirim, our group began with a flight to Antalya and a night in the luxurious Side Resort, owned by the Bastiyali Tour Company, the organizer of many wondrous ASCSA trips to Turkey. It was the first night of tasting the delights of SE Turkey- Adana kebabs in Adana, acanthus coffee in Diocaesaria, kunefe in Antakya, pistachios and bakhlava in Gaziantep- and archaeological sites, too.
The itinerary was a rigorous one, but promised (and delivered!) extraordinary remains, sites visited by none of us before, and sculpture as old or older than human settlements. We crossed many of the rivers that played a role in ancient history (the Eurymedon, the Issos, and the Euphrates) and tested the flow of the last by racing Winnie-the-Pooh sticks, one of John Camp's favorite childhood games.
The pre-ceramic site of Gobeklitepe contains at least five circles of stone megaliths, dating to 11,000 Before the Present. Child-like low relief carvings of foxes, ducks, and vultures keep company with a charging bull and toothy boar on T-shaped slabs up to 4 meters tall. Chuck Griffin, our traveling architect, marveled at the ability of the stones to stand upright.
The Antioch mosaics and their cousins, the mosaics from the partly submerged site of Zeugma presented domestic decor at its most glorious. Panel after panel of mythological figures and intricate framing grace the walls of the Antakya Museum and the floors of the new state-of-the-art Zeugma museum in Gaziantep. Jenifer Neils, Chair-elect of the Managing Committee, gave us a great introduction to the Antioch mosaics before a nearly two-hour stretch of admiring the pavements.
School friend Olga Palagia did the honors of introducing us to the Nemrud Dagi sculptures before our strenuous climb to the summit. Her presentation was most welcome because we all arrived gasping from the exertion and the 7,000 foot elevation. That did not stop some of us from having a snowball fight in the presence of Antiochus and the gods.
The students bested us all with their great reports. Stephanie Craven (Seleucids and Ptolemies in Cilicia), Sarah Miller (Alexander at the Issos), Rachel McCleery (Cicero in Cilicia), Jess Lamont (the First Crusade), David Hewitt (Julian at Antioch), Tristan Barnes (Karatepe), Charles George (the Sili Greek dialect), and Allison Kemmerle (the current Syrian conflict and its effect on Turkey) showed off the very best of their ASCSA training. Sketching along the way was Judy Allen (see her work in an upcoming issue of akoue).
The journey will be remembered for many non-academic moments as well. The Great WF (Windell Fisher) brought his wit, wisdom, and knowledge of the Bible to many of the places where St. Paul lived and visited. The "shortcut" at Lamos resulted fortunately in no broken bones, but some of us scratched for days after as a result of the mites we encountered there. John Hale crafted the world's first Anabarzos juleps (see recipe below) on Kentuky Derby Day (the first Saturday in May) and, to the amusement of a village resident, sang a rousing rendition of "My Old Kentucky Home" appropriately while we stood outside of the remains of the ancient stadium. On our last day we left our hardy and trusted driver Ramazan outside the Gaziantep airport after our bus suffered a flat tire just a kilometer from our final stop.
Next stop Ai Khanoum?
Recipe for Anabarzos juleps: one fifth Jack Daniels, one carton visne (sour cherry) juice, one large bunch of mint (lightly bruised), approximately ten hard candies. Mix in empty five-liter water bottle. Serve in plastic cups or empty water bottles. Serves 18.
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