But seriously, where have these days gone?
Only a few more days before I head back to Toronto and real life, although I foresee a lot of changes in my life forthcoming.
So, Day Twelve was from Izmir to Canakkale. We first drove to Pergamon, modern Bergma. We unfortunately could not visit the acropolis, as a few years ago the council voted it was too dangerous to drive up because of wind, and so they built a trolly. The trolly, however, is also very dangerous (more dangerous than driving) and later it was discovered that the company that built the trolly was the son of the head councilman.
So tours rarely go up there, as it is too dangerous. Instead, then, we went to the healing centre nearby, where “death is not allowed to enter”. A person that was too sick could not enter, but anyone else would be welcome. It was technically free, but you had to present gifts for the god of healing. As well, you had to carve a figure of whatever you needed heeling and put it by the temple as an offering. You would then be given something to sleep (sometimes hashish, or other herbs – as one of my favourite authors once said, (I’m paraphrasing here) some priests get drunk, and some get high) you would be put in an isolation chamber. It was thought that you would either dream of the god telling you the cure, or you would dream something, and priests/doctors would interpret it. There was a massive medical library, and between this library an the one at the acropolis, they had 200,000 volumes.
Fun fact: the Egyptians, who possessed the largest library at Alexandria, became jealous, and so stopped exporting papyrus so they could make no more books. This didn’t work, as this prompted the invent of parchment. However, when the Romans took over, Anthony gifted all the books in the library to Cleopatra. Sadly, this meant that all those thousands of ancient scrolls were in Alexandria when a fire destroyed all those ancient documents.
What. A. Waste.
Anyways, so the place where they put you to sleep, by the way, was a huge underground chamber with running water and hot baths all over, and were optimized for acoustics so the sound of the water running everywhere would echo. There was also a spa, and a healing centre for those with mental problems, and interestingly, there is a conference for the international association of mental health professionals or researchers or the like, as this was the first place (known) to have treated mental health problems.
After this, we hopped back on the bus and went to – wait for it – Troy.
If you do not know the story of Troy, and do not want to go read Homer, you’re in luck. Here is my cliff notes version of the story of Troy, just for you.
Once upon a time, a king and queen were expecting a child. The king approached an oracle, and the oracle told him that he would have a son, and that this son would come to be the ruin of Troy. He was told to kill the child, for the sake of the city. The child was born. The father and mother, however, could not kill their son, whom they had named Paris. Instead, they gave him to the guards, and instructed them to kill him. They brought him outside the city walls, but they could not kill him, either, and so they left him in the wilderness, presuming that the child would eventually be eaten or starve. However, the child was taken care of by a mother bear, until a shepherd found him. The shepherd, not knowing from whence the child came, took him in, and raised him as his own. One day, the shepherd heard of a contest to win a bull in the great city, and told his adopted son to go to the city and win the contest. He did, and his sisters recognized him. He was invited to rejoin the palace. After a time of his residing in the palace, a celebration took place, and all the gods except the god of mischief were invited. The god of mischief, affronted, threw a golden apple into the party, upon which read the words, Eris Cali, “for the most beautiful one”. The three goddesses, Hera, Athena and Aphrodite fought, and eventually asked Heracles which was the fairest, but he said to let Paris decide. Each goddess offered him a bribe – Hera offered him power, Athena offered him wisdom, and Aphrodite offered him, “the most beautiful one”. Believing she meant herself, Paris gave her the apple. She then gifted him with Helen of Troy, the most beautiful woman in the world. Paris and his cousin snuck into Greece and abducted Helen, and this gave the Greeks an excuse to invade. The war lasted for ten years, and when the city was finally overcome, the invaders burned it to the ground.
And thus was the end of Troy.
Now, Daghan mentioned that in many guide books is it cited as the most disappointing tourist location, but I think that is, without a question, BS. I say this because I think the allure of the city is not so much the aesthetic appearance of the ruins, but just how historically rich and complex they are. I mean, it is fascinating, and I will try to outline some of the most important points here.
– Troy, for a very long time, was little more than was known of in Homer’s poetry. No one knew where it was, only that it once existed. So one day, a poor young man in Austria named Heinrich Shrema (sp) was looking at paintings with his father, and they came across one that dazzled the little boy. He asked what it was, and the father answered, this is Troy. And thus the passion was born. The little boy grew up to make his fortune (only slightly legally) and eventually made enough to fund a dig. He did not, however, know Greek enough to study the original sources, so he married a Greek girl named Sophia (which means wisdom) and eventually the trip was made. He, sadly, started his dig on the wrong hill.
Now around the same time as he and his wife were on their dig site, a few hills over there was a gentleman from Britain digging with an archeological team, and they found the right hill. They had barely begun to tap the surface – indeed, they still have only tapped the surface – when they were called back, and so this gentleman, William Duhrnwell (sp?), invited Heinrich to continue digging where they had started. They kept digging, and one day somehow he started to become obsessed with finding treasure – which is why they don’t call him an archeologist. Now, before this happened, he had dug, you know, properly, but once he started treasure hunting, he began just digging trenches. Which, of course, ruins the dig, because all the stuff from that pit is impossible to date and you lose so much in the way of artifacts in one fell swoop and a whole host of other things, so sigh to that. On the up side, I suppose, there is one pit where you an stand at the bottom and see all nine (possibly thirteen, but we will get to that) layers of the city. Eventually, though, he did find his treasure; his wife found it under a fig tree. They told all the workers it was his birthday and they sent them all away. She hid all the treasures under her skirts and they smuggled them out into Germany.
I would like to interject here that this marks the third time I have sat down properly with the intent to finish this post. Either I am trying to be far too detailed, or I’m just exhausted from traveling. Possibly both.
Troy was cool; got a photo with the Trojan Horse (no, not the real one). Also, as I mentioned, we learned that some of the archeologists were publishing their findings that there may have been 13 layers to the city, not just nine, which is interesting. Also, he noted that mostly it is German archeologists but it is slow going due to lack of funds.
After Troy, we headed home.
That is, back to the hotel.
That took way too long.