Monday, June 16, 2014

2014 - Turkey: Following the Footsteps of Paul: Part 3


Thyatira, now the modern city of Akhisar, was one of the seven cities named in Revelation (2:18-29), praising it for its "love, faith, service, and patient endurance."  However, it was criticized for tolerating false teachers and prophets symbolized by Jezebel.

In Acts 16, Paul, Silas, and Timothy traveled to Philippi and met and baptized Lydia "from the city of Thyatira."

Few archeological remains of the ancient city have been uncovered, though the area was inhabited as early as 3000 B.C.  Only one block of downtown Akhisar has been excavated, revealing this basilica-type building with an apse (click to enlarge photos)... well as the foundations seen here...

We also walked a block to the museum which had this artist's rendition of the site...

...and also artifacts from the area dating as far back as 6000 B.C. seen below...

Here's the video of Thyatira which includes Assos (below):



Pergamum, one of Turkey's most impressive archeological sites, is located around the modern town of Bergama. Evidence indicates the area was settled as early as 8th century B.C.  A Jewish presence existed as early as 1st century A.D., and by the end of that century, a Christian community also existed as evidenced by Revelation (1:11; 2:12-17) when John praised it for its Christian faithfulness in the face of persecution and martyrdom, but criticized it for tolerating a group John considered heretical.

The road to the Acropolis of Pergamum does not allow buses, so the cable car ride was our way up and down.

The Acropolis of Athens is the best known of the many Acropolis sites, but akros means "highest" and polis means "city," and many ancient cities were built atop precipitous hillsides for defensive purposes.  Thus many cities had a section called "the acropolis."  The acropolis of Pergamum is the oldest section of Pergamum.  This photo shows how imposing the defensive walls were...

The theatre was an experience! Built in the 3rd century B.C., the 10,000 spectators had breathtaking views of the city below as they enjoyed the theatrical presentation.

This photo gives an idea of the steepness of the theatre.

One of the many temples at the site...

Here's a video of my trip to Pergamum and it includes Asclepeion found below:



Asclepius was the most famous god of healing in the Greco-Roman world, and the Asclepeion at Pergamum was a popular healing center (there were others at Athens, Corinth, Rome, and elsewhere.) It began in 4th century B.C. and reached the height of its popularity in 2nd century A.D.  It had a temple, a well or spring for purification, fountains, sleeping rooms, a theatre, baths, a gymnasium, and a library.  Patients would spend weeks here for healing, much like at a spa today.  Offerings and gifts were given after healing.

Revelation describes Pergamum as the place "where Satan's throne is" (2:13), a possible reference to the Asclepeion with its supposed healing by and offerings to false gods.

The Sacred Way pictured below was the colonnaded, paved street that ran the half-mile from the foot of the Pergamum Acropolis to the center of Asclepeion.

The Roman Theatre had a seating capacity of 3500 and was used for plays, orations, poetry readings, and musical performances for the enjoyment of the patients and visitors.



The city of Assos was founded during the 7th century B.C. and is now the village of Behramkale. As with other towns, its acropolis is high atop a steep hill, but this one overlooks the adjacent Aegean Sea.  The first settlers came from the nearby island of Lesbos, seven miles off the shore.


A 4th century ruler of Assos was Hermias, who along with Aristotle, had been a student of the philosopher Plato.  And Aristotle, at the invitation of Hermias, lived here for three years and married Hermias' niece.

Paul, at the end of his third missionary journey, traveled overland 20 miles on this Roman Highway...

...from Troas to Assos and boarded a ship carrying his traveling companions.  They then all to sailed to Mitylene on the island of Lesbos, then to Miletus, eventually to Caesarea, and then they traveled  down to Jerusalem.  His visit to Assos is found in Acts 20:13-14, but there is no mention of how long he stayed or whether he preached or made any converts here.

The ruins at the acropolis of Assos are reached by hiking up the long, narrow main street of the town...

The Temple of Athena is the main structure.  It was built around 530 B.C. and had 13 columns on the long sides and six on the two ends.  The temple dimensions are 100 feet by 46 feet. Below are the remains and then a photo of an artist's conception of the temple.

(the video of Assos is included above with the video of Thyatira)



This site is referred to as Alexandria-Troas to distinguish it from other cities named Alexandria (Troas refers to it being close to Troy.)  It is generally simply called Troas.  Troas, founded around 310 B.C., was a major trading center due to its location, but now it is merely a few ruins overgrown by vegetation, and few sightseers stop here. 

Paul traveled to Troas on his second and third missionary journeys.  In Troas (Acts 16:6-8) he had a vision of a man of Macedonia imploring him to come, and Paul and his companions set sail for Macedonia. When returning from Greece on his third journey, Paul again visited Troas for seven days (Acts 20:5-12.)  And in 2 Corinthians 2:12-13, Paul mentions a visit to Troas.  In 2 Timothy 1:16-17, Paul asks Timothy to bring him his cloak, books, and parchments which he had left in Troas with a friend, Carpus.

Here I am walking on the road Paul and his companions walked nearly 2000 years ago.

The site is supposedly over 1000 acres in size, but most is unexcavated and rife with underbrush and buried beneath sand dunes.  It is said that the city walls were over 5 miles in length!

These arches from the bath-gymnasium complex are among the few ruins excavated and available for viewing... 

Here's the video of Alexandria-Troas and Troy:



Troy is actually in Turkey, not Greece.  There is a local saying that "The wind brought wealth to Troy," which refers to Troy's strategic geographic location.  The currents of the Dardanelles and the prevailing north winds forced ships bound for the Black Sea into Troy's bay to wait for the rare south wind, thus bringing commerce to Troy.

The Trojan War is one of the most famous stories from antiquity.  Though probably not historical, it may well be based on an actual conquest of Troy by the Greeks in the 13th or 12th century B.C.  Troy has been occupied from around 3000 B.C. and nine different cities have been built on this site, each one atop the previous one.

The storied incident with the Greek soldiers hidden inside the huge wooden horse is celebrated in Troy today with this replica, which visitors can climb into to peer through the open windows on the two upper stories...

Since nine cities are buried here, they try to show how the different layers are differentiated (click to enlarge photos)...

This partially restored ramp is from the Troy II citadel, which had been built on top of the remains of Troy I...

(The video of Troy is above in the video of Troas)


(Information taken from A Guide to the Biblical Sites of Greece and Turkey by Clyde Fant 
and Mitchell Reddish, a book I heartily recommend to anyone traveling to these sites.  
All photos are my own.)


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