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Published: November 2nd 2011
Today was an optional tour to the ancient city or Perge (pronounced pear-gay). I, of course, was not missing any ruins so off we went. Perge was founded as a Greek city in the 12th-13th century BCE. It's on the waiting list to be a UNESCO site. Although originally Greek, most of the ruins here are of the Roman era, since Romans built on top of or modified the Greek structures. This is true of most of the 2685 ancient ruin sites in Turkey.
The Bible mentions Perge briefly saying St. Paul sailed here. It's not on the coast but there is a river he could have sailed that is still the primary water source for the area. the oldest level of strata found here was dating back to the 15th century BCE with Hittite period but the just recently found evidence of civilization here dating back to about 3000 BCE. Alexander the Great used Perge as a military base. It was burned in the 600's by the Arabs.
The Romans came to Perge in the 2nd century ACE. Perge has the 2nd best preserved stadium in Turkey so we started there. Stadiums were used for chariot races (think
Ben Hur), gladiator contests and Olympic type games. This stadium in Perge coul hold about 12,000 people. That's about 10% of the estimated 150,000 who lived here in the Roman period.
From here we entered the city through the Roman gate and went first to the Roman baths. From there we saw the Agora or market, which dates back to the Greek time. There were stalls built for the various vendors around the square. In the middle of an agora was always either a temple or alter to Hermes, the god of trade.
We went to main street of Perge which was also lined with shops, although these were the finer, more expensive goods. In the middle of the street there's a water canal but this was used for beauty, togove a feeling of freshness from the heat, instead of any practical purpose.
While there are great ruins here, after 60 years of excavation, they have only uncovered 12% of the city. I'm always amazed at the beauty and level of advanced knowledge shown in ancient cities such as this. Some much of what they did has stayed with through the centuries.
Our next stop was
the town do Aspendos. Here is the best preserved theater in the world, mainly because the Turks used it as a caravanserai instead of destroying it. I stepped through the entrance and stopped dead in my tracks at what I was seeing. I've seen ancient theaters but this one took my breath away. The Greeks used it for plays and the Romans continued that use and also used them for political rallys. All theaters were dedicated to the god Bacchus or Dionysus, the god of wine, food and entertainment, and there was a great original statue to him still there. The theater is 90% original (2nd century), 5% from the 10th century, and 5% from the 13th century with additions for the caravanserai.
Our final stop was the Anatalya Archaeology Museum to see several marble statues and sarcophagus from the Perge area.
This afternoon when we returned I had a Turkish Bath and massage. If you want details on the Turkish Bath, just ask me but I can tell you that what you've heard is true and this was a totally new experience for me and one I most likely will not have again but it was the
best massage I've ever had and I feel great!
I got to try a new dish at dinner tonight. They had yogurt and rice soup. It was very good.
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