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x0x A Secret invitation Antiocheia

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  • Turkish Culture List
    [See more on this subject by visiting the pages selected for you by Anita Donohoe: http://www.turkradio.us/k/antiochea/ ] x0x A Secret invitation Antiocheia By
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 27, 2008
      [See more on this subject by visiting the pages
      selected for you by Anita Donohoe:
      http://www.turkradio.us/k/antiochea/ ]

      x0x A Secret invitation Antiocheia


      Downing Taurus toward mid-February, Leo will bring
      plenty to the plain of Yalvac as the prophets pass
      through Antiocheia of Psidia.

      The first time my travels brought me to Isparta it
      was May, and like most Sagrak villagers museum
      week took me to Adada to enjoy the festival. In
      Turkish 'ada' means island, so the name of this
      city makes you think of waves and the sea, but as
      one of the 12 cities of Psidia it is up in the
      mountains and thus has been protected from the
      ravages of time. As I watched young girls dancing
      out in front of the Temple of Emperors-like the
      'poppy' trees of these mountains they were decked
      in purple and pink-the old men of Sagrak village
      sitting in the rows ahead of me in their thick
      glasses and prayer caps kept murmuring the same
      word like an incantation: "Yalvac, yalvac,
      yalvac..." Yalvac is the largest county of Isparta
      province and contains the ancient city of
      Antiocheia. The root meaning of 'yalvac' was
      supplicant, but over time the word took on new
      meanings to signify abettor, messenger of god,
      herald, and prophet.


      Ever since, whenever I go to Isparta I have
      answered a secret invitation and made my way to
      Yalvac. It is a place where believers made
      history. Alexander on his great expedition, who
      passed through Psidia on his way to Phrygia to
      link up with the other half of his army; the
      Crusaders, pouring down to Antakya (Antioch) from
      Iznik (Nicaea) in the firm conviction that they
      could take Jerusalem; the Arabs, pressing up from
      Antiocheia to the walls of Istanbul; St. Paul,
      patiently waiting for the day to come as he spent
      days in Antiocheia with a weaver in the quest to
      spread the word of his secret religion to all
      mankind; Battal Gazi, kicking up the dust as his
      horse galloped into Yalvac; the two armies
      clashing in the battle of Myriokephalon; all of
      them contributed to writing this history. Everyone
      had a reason for coming to, or passing through,
      Yalvac. As a meeting point for civilizations, and
      because the roads around it had military and
      commercial importance while its soil was fertile,
      Yalvac was highly strategical. Thus Antiocheia was
      a major Roman colony that rose to be capital of
      Psidia, and in the Christian era was the seat of a


      On a cold but sunny winter's day I pass a
      coffeehouse under the branches of an
      eight-hundred-year-old plane tree, continue on
      through streets lined by Yalvac houses decorated
      with ancient artifacts, and enter Antiocheia one
      kilometer northeast of the city. From the spot
      where the portal should be I look back at Yalvac,
      and at the rich soil stretching away behind the
      township. Wasn't it this soil that led the emperor
      Augustus to settle retired Roman soldiers and
      landless Italian villagers here to start a colony?
      By mixing soldiers with the people he not only
      served the cause of Romanization but at the same
      time was able to control the lands in the east. My
      eyes seek out the Via Sebaste, a road with
      Antiocheia at its heart which the governor of
      Galatia built in order to inflict a decisive
      defeat on the Homanads.

      This road eventually became Rome's most famous
      commercial and military artery in Asia Minor, and
      its traces may be followed today thanks to the
      milestones discovered by archeologists.

      This region has been inhabited since Paleolithic
      times, and passed from the Hellenistic kings to
      the Kingdom of Pergamon, from Rome to the Kingdom
      of Cappadocia, thence to the pirate kindoms, and
      finally, for a rather long spell, back to Rome.
      Various armies took turns camping here until the
      12th century, but then the fate of the region was
      decided permanently by the battle of
      Myriokephalon-the era of the Turks and
      Islamization had begun.


      I pass between ancient stones bearing the reliefs
      of helmets, soldiers, shields, hawks, bulls' heads
      and the like, where the fragments of the portal
      strewn about make up 65 percent of the building's
      total. The city is built on seven hills, with a
      plan resembling that of Rome, and I commence
      walking on its Decumanus Maximus (east-west
      avenue), which will lead me to the center. How I
      would have loved to say I had seen the ancient
      city intact, and to start relating my impressions
      of it. But this is impossible due to earthquakes,
      the Arab incursions, and particularly the razing
      of the city in the 8th century by Abbas, son of
      the Caliph Velid.


      The state of most buildings you see in the ancient
      city is just like that of the portal. Apart from
      the theater, bath, certain walls, and the columns
      left standing on the Decumanus Maximus, everything
      is either on the ground or below it. The mounds of
      earth you see on the way to the Acropolis-and you
      wonder what they conceal-prove that there is still
      much to be said about this ancient city. The
      avenue that passes by the theater intersects a bit
      further on with the city's other main avenue, the
      Cardo Maximus (running north and south), and from
      here you attain the Tiberia Platea. The
      inscriptions that have been unearthed, the altars,
      glass goblets, oil lamps, tableware and coins from
      almost every period show that this was the heart
      of city life. The structure that begins where the
      Platea ends and has 12 steps belongs to the
      Propylon which provided passage to the emperor's
      sacred precinct on the flat ground to the rear. It
      was built to honor Octavius, who defeating Marcus
      Antonius in the naval Battle of Actium became sole
      lord of the Roman world and received the title of

      The famous 'Res Gestae' inscription unearthed here
      recounts the lifelong exploits of Augustus, who
      brought universal peace to his empire. Climbing
      the stairs you reach the highest point of the
      city, Antiocheia's most impressive site, the
      sacred precinct of Augustus carved in the rocks.
      Turning back takes you to the central church
      directly opposite the Platea, and from there a
      northward route brings you to the nympheum or
      fountain. From here you can see the aqueduct,
      which has virtually become the symbol of Yalvac
      and brought water 800 meters from the Sultan
      mountains to this fountain, from where it was
      distributed to the city. As for the building in
      the northwest corner of the city, which for the
      time being is called the bath, circular holes may
      have collapsed in its roof, but it is still the
      best-preserved structure in the city, made of
      large, regular blocks of stone.


      Our last stop in the ancient city is the Church of
      St. Paul.

      Here he delivered his first official sermon, and
      he spread the word of Christianity from Antiocheia
      to the entire world. For hours I have been
      wandering through the ancient city without seeing
      anybody but a few local tourists, or hearing
      anything but the sound of the wind and pigeons'
      wings. But suddenly the silence was broken, as I
      saw some 50 Japanese tourists come and enter the
      church single file, find places for themselves and
      begin to pray. Their heartfelt "Amens" resounded
      even outside, and without visiting a single other
      place they left the city, once again in single
      file. Now I leave the ancient city to go to the
      temple of Men in the Gemen grove at 1,600 meters.
      I reflect on the loneliness of Antiocheia, and it
      seems like the loneliness of a prophet, one word
      for which in Turkish, you must remember, is
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