Trip Start Dec 04, 2006
Trip End Jun 17, 2007

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Jeannie here.  After a couple of long bus rides through Gallipoli and Troy, we are in Ephesus (well, in nearby Selcuk technically).  Ephesus is awe-inspiring.  It is home to an amphitheater that seats 25,000, a stunning marble street, and the remains of an impressive library; among many other fountains, homes, and  statues.  Today it was also abloom with beautiful red poppies that were abundant throughout the ruins. 

Ephesus was first built by the Romans in 300 BC.  Later, it became the second most important city of the Byzantine Empire and went through a tumultuous series of centuries including multiple sackings and floodings.  It was abandoned around the 15th century, and has only been partially excavated at present.

We knew we would be seeing impressive ruins from the Roman Empire, but somehow we forgot that both Paul and John stopped here during their trips throughout the region.  Paul wrote I Corinthians while staying in Ephesus, and later wrote Ephesians to the residents.   Because the history of the place is so layered and complicated, I think Sean is kicking himself for not  learning everything there was to know today.  I, on the other hand, really enjoyed wandering through the baths and homes, trying to imagine daily life on such a scale.  I found the amphitheaters charming, and I loved imagining my students performances of Antigone taking place there.  

We also walked to the nearby cave of the seven sleepers from Islamic lore, and stopped at a lovely restaurant serving a delicious Turkish stuffed pancake called "gözleme".  We enjoyed some apple tea on sofas outside while we watched some puppies playing in the neighboring orchard.  It was one of the best, most relaxing dining experiences we have had on the trip.

Once we crossed through an olive grove to reach Selcuk again, we decided to go to the local museum.  It has a wonderful collection of sculpture and artifacts from Ephesus, and it was well designed for weary traveler brains.   The final exhibit was about gladiators and research that has been done by Austrian scientists to determine causes of death, diet, and previous injuries based on the skeletons found at the Gladiator cemetery at Ephesus.  It was a fascinating look at the lives of gladiators as they paired the scientific findings with the mosaic and bas relief depictions of gladiators. 
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