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1601x0x A ladder to history: Selcuk

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  • T.R.H.
    Apr 6, 2009
      [See more on this subject by visiting the pages
      selected for you by Anita Donohoe:
      http://turkradio.us/k/selcuk/ ]

      x0x A ladder to history: Selcuk

      By FIRAT iLGoR

      The capital of religious tales, Selcuk, takes one
      on a historic journey rooted in associations.

      The noise of the crowd mingles with that of the
      zurna, that wailing Turkish ancestor of the
      clarinet. In Selcuk, in the middle of a square
      surrounded by thousands of people, two camels vie
      for supremacy. The drummer brings his stick down
      hard on the taut skin. One of the camels trips the
      other, and is about to bring his opponent down.
      Suddenly I hear a bell jingle behind me, and turn
      to see a boy shaking this bell at the camels
      waiting their turn to wrestle. Then the sounds of
      the drum and bell mingle, and in my brain there
      begins a historic journey rooted in associations.
      And it takes me to those roads where camel
      caravans passed with their jingling bells, and
      armies marched by to the sound of drums; then to
      the shores of the Aegean and to Ephesus, which is
      named for an Amazon, a woman warrior.


      In the Grand Theater the cries of spectators in
      their tens of thousands mingle with the roar of
      the lions loosed on the gladiators. As blood is
      spilled in the arena, out there on the foothills
      of Mt. Panayir the bright red anemones are

      A dog bursts out of a cave, and then seven men
      emerge rubbing their eyes. Bewildered, they look
      around, and one of them calls out to the dog
      frisking in the grass: "Kitmir, come here!" Belief
      has it that during the reign of the Emperor Dacius
      seven Christians fleeing persecution at the hands
      of idolaters fell asleep in the cave where they
      were hiding. Centuries later a goatherd with his
      grazing flock moved the rock that blocked the
      exit, and light seeped in to wake them up. The
      cave is in Selcuk, and since the 5th century has
      been held sacred by Christians. And Kitmir is the
      name of the Seven Sleepers' dog.

      Selcuk is the capital of a number of religious
      tales like that of the Seven Sleepers. One of them
      starts in a village on the banks of the Rhine.

      A peasant woman named Anna Katharina Emmerick, who
      had been bed-ridden for twelve years, dreamed of
      Jesus and Mary. In 1842, after her death, the
      things she had told were made into a book. In
      1890, as this book was being read to nurses at the
      French Hospital in Izmir, a nun was intrigued by
      details concerning a house. She spoke to two
      priests who were at the hospital to teach and
      conduct mass, and asked them to investigate
      whether these revelations were true. When a
      research team went to Selcuk in 1891, they
      stumbled on a monastery which matched the details
      in Emmerick's book, even though she had never set
      foot in the region. This monastery gained even
      further prominence thanks to a visit by the
      recently deceased Pope John Paul II in 1979, and
      today is a destination for Christian pilgrims.


      One of the most important dates in Selcuk history
      is July 21, 356 B.C. That day,those who wished to
      plunder the Temple of Artemis-one of the seven
      wonders of the world-set fire to the building, and
      the people were at first in shock over this great
      devastation, then began to debate why Artemis had
      not guarded her 'house.' After a while they had
      the answer. That day the stars had announced to
      Artemis the birth of a child who would later rule
      the earth, and because she was the goddess of
      birth she had gone to aid in the delivery, thus
      leaving her temple unguarded. When the child grew
      up he would become a great king, and on arriving
      in Ephesus would be welcomed with applause. You
      all know his name: Alexander the Great! When the
      Persian King Darius came down to this region,
      after laying waste to Anatolia, he was stopped not
      by armies but rather by a single man, a sage.
      Herakleitos was the son of an Ephesian tyrant, and
      when he renounced the throne for philosophy and
      the study of nature's mysteries, most Ephesians
      laughed at him. Herakleitos is known for his
      dictum that you can't bathe in the same river
      twice, and Darius wrote him a letter with the
      offer of a comfortable life at his court. The
      answer he got was, "I am content with my little
      portion of bread." Herakeitos didn't go off to
      Persia, but he earned Darius's respect and saved

      Until then no one had imagined that the day would
      come when, through his ideas, a philosopher would
      stop the armies of an invader who respected
      him.Time has buried the secrets of history in the
      silt swept along by the waters of the Little
      Meander, and now Ephesus gazes at the stones used
      to build St. John's Basilica. Beneath this
      edifice, in the middle of Selcuk, was found the
      grave of Jesus' most beloved disciple, St. John.


      One place worth seeing in Selcuk is the village
      of Sirince, 8 kilometers away. On weekends
      especially, the place is packed. Some come to see
      the old houses, others to taste the fruity wine,
      and still others simply to catch their breath.
      Another sight is the Outdoor Steam Train Museum in
      the village of Camlik. The curator, Atilla
      Misiroglu, has not only devoted himself to trains,
      but at the same time is the son of a railway man
      who used to work at the old station in Camlik.

      The huge black trains, after bringing countless
      people together, have gathered here. Thirty
      locomotives, thirty 'black lions,' seem to have
      put their heads together to reminisce. Another
      private museum is the 'Cultural Village' at the
      Pamucak-Selcuk-Gumuldur junction. You won't
      get many chances to visit an old Anatolian village
      represented by dolls. But of course one of the
      most important spots in Selcuk is the Ephesus
      Museum. Here there are important artifacts from
      classical times: matchless statues of Artemis,
      Eros riding the back of a dolphin, the head of
      Socrates, Priapos, the statue of a warrior, and
      the altar from the Temple of Domitian, to name
      just a few. As I wander through the museum a woman
      comes up to me, and pointing to the statue of
      Artemis whispers, "I'm waiting for the guards to
      go in the next room before I touch the white
      marble. Did you know that Artemis presides over
      the stars and the signs of the Zodiac; that she's
      the moon goddess who aids women in labor?" "Yes,"
      I reply, "and in these parts Artemis is the
      goddess of hunting. then, do you know which camel
      won today's wrestling match? Was it Engin from
      Kursunlu in Canakkale, or Arap from Milas?"

      [Listen to an interview with Emily Bunker,
      author of "Nuri's Donkey" at:
      http://www.turkradio.us/k/donkey/ ]