Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Turkey Travelogue 5c - The Road Less Traveled in Ephesus

The most enjoyable part of my Ephesus experience was crammed into the last half hour. Aside from the regular tourist pathway, the ruins of Ephesus are not well-marked, and major sections of the site are cordoned off, perhaps in an effort to preserve the past from thousands of trampling feet. When we met up with D.&D. at the Library of Celsus, they described a way to get behind the roped-off section without crossing any barriers, and emerge on the harbour end of the Arcadian Way:
So after we got down to the bottom of the hill, I left t. to rest at the park entrance and started trucking down an unmarked trail. The path led me to the ruins of a massive basilica, built in the early 2nd century and originally used as an administrative center or a museion. In the fourth or fifth century (depending on who you ask), part of the west end of the basilica was converted into the church of St. Mary:

The church of St. Mary takes its name from an early church tradition that the apostle John settled near Ephesus during the last years of his life, accompanied by Mary the mother of Jesus. The church is sometimes known as the Church of the Councils because it was the site of the third Ecumenical Council (A.D. 431), which--rather unecumenically by today's standards--condemned the Nestorian heresy. The less-famous "Robber Council" was also held here in A.D. 449.

On the other side of the wall, there is a plaque commemorating the visit of Pope John VI, who held a service here in 1967.After I took this picture, a man who had been hacking at undergrowth with a machete, pointed at his wrist and said something--in Turkish presumably, because I imagined he was warning me about an impending attack of dangerous Ephesian insects. Once I had done waving my arms in the air, I realized he wanted to know what time it was. There was no one else around.

In broken English he explained that he had been helping with archaeological digs in Ephesus for the last 15 years. Then he pulled some ancient coins out of his pocket, and offered to sell them to me:

Surprised that I only wanted a photograph, he asked why I wasn't interested. I didn't know how to explain nicely that they were most likely fake, for as the Lonely Planet guide remarks, "Some genius discovered that when coins pass through the digestive tract of a sheep or cow, they emerge looking convincingly aged" (221). Even if they were authentic, it would have been illegal for me to purchase them. So I said, "No, thank you" and walked away.

A little further down there is a baptismal for infants:
And a baptismal room with a pool in the middle for adults:
There is another, very similar, albeit extensively reconstructed, baptistery in the Church of St. John in Selçuk:
I'm guessing the three interlocked circles on the stone below symbolize the trinity:

1 comment:

Danny Gamache said...

Excellent! Although you make it sound like D. and I were doing something illegal to get you behind the barriers! :)....