All Tombed Out

Trip Start May 22, 2009
Trip End Feb 16, 2010

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Flag of Turkey  , Antalya,
Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Had a beautiful day of cycling along the coast today.  I can't believe the colour of the water!  I can see why it's called the Turquoise coast.  Rugged cliffs plunge to the water below where waves beat the rocks into sand to create secluded little beaches.  It would be wonderful to camp there sometime!

Arrived in Kas.  By far one of the most picturesque villages we've seen so far.  They must have a great influx of tourist money.  But one of the most striking features here is the rock tombs carved into the hillside behind the town.  These tombs are an adventure to discover.  First thing after settling in, we went to investigate. 

There is a flight of stairs leading off the road and then you're left to your own devices.  Scrambling over rocks reminiscent of the 5a rock climbing routes I did in the Pyrenees, you never quite know where you're headed.  But after a few minutes you're greeted with a glimpse of a tomb to spur you forward to discover the next.  Clamoring over the rocks made me wonder about those to made the tombs.  Hiking the tools up day after day.  It was difficult enough climbing myself, let alone carrying a dead body up!

Made me wonder about these people who obviously valued their dead very much and made me do a little research. 

It seems that they carved the look of their tombs in the same style that they made their homes.  Often they would be double and triple stories with ledges inside to lay offering.  They had sliding stone doors in which to seal and many had carving depicting the deceased life and the funeral proceedings.  Many times they were used for whole families as well as servants.  But unlike many civilizations who way their dead to rest outside of the area of the living, the Lycians lived in and among their dead.  Giant sarcophagi set in prominent places throughout the town.  Even stairs carved into the rock face winding by the tombs to the town.  Villagers wold walk past the tombs to get to the fertile farmland below or to the harbor.  There were also inscriptions inside cursing those who would disturb the deceased.  But that mussent have been much of a deterrent.  All tombs have wide gaping holes which are evident from grave robbers breaking in.  I wonder what happened to them...

Such a lot of work went into the creation of these tombs.  You can tell they must have greatly valued the afterlife.  Beautifully carved tombs would have been started while the person was alive.  They must have been commissioned early so that they could be ready in time.   

Something worked on for so long.  Looted and defaced.  Looking inside, most have shattered glass from the last beer binge.  Most have charred roofs from those who have lived inside over the centuries.  In todays day and age, they are not quite as respected as when they were made. 

Brian was remarking how strange it was that these tombs have been sitting around empty for much longer than they were ever occupied with their intended use.  All that work and now they lie empty. 

The next day we went to Myra.  Lonely Planet says that if you only get to see one set of rock tombs that these are the ones to see.  So off we went on a rainy day.  They are certainly spectacularly carved and numerous.  A literal honeycomb of tombs covering the surface of the mountain. 

But they were just tombs.

Such a terrible thing to say, but I think I'm all tombed out. As fascinating as they are, I've seen enough for now. And the thought of visiting another ancient amphitheater is about the most boring thing I can think of right now. Time for something different! Tomorrow we head to Olympos. I'm ready to sleep in a tree house, hike a mountain and dance in the eternal flames that flicker there...
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