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Tuesday, August 13: Day 113 – Sardis, Philadelphia, et al

Today we left our 18th century Greek home full of original art on a hill overlooking the town of Sirince.

Ertunga says that in January this quaint little village turns into a camel fight locale. The males fight with their necks. The event is initiated by having a female camel walk by.


Sardis

Sardis was the capital city of Lydia. The local people were Lydians not Greeks. A Greek writer wrote that the Lydians’ morals were worse by even Greek standards.

Croesus was the Lydian ruler. He invented coins in the 7th century BC. The first coins were called electrum and had animals on them denoting different denominations.

There is a saying “rich as Croesus”. I am not familiar with it but it is used by the British. Croesus was so wealthy that he funded the building of the Temple of Artemis, one of the seven ancient wonders of the world. His name is inscribed as such on one of the pillars.

Prior to this time, there was only bartering. He said to bring goods to him, and he would give gold coins. Gold and other metals had value.

Legend is that Midas lived in Phyrgia. He was walking through the forest one day and he found a satyr (half goat half man) that was dying. He nursed him back to health. The god Apollo was happy as this was his favorite satyr. He said, “Tell Midas to come see me.”

Apollo granted him any wish. Midas asked for anything that he touched to turn to gold.

“Are you sure?”

This was a big mistake. He could not eat or embrace loved ones.

To reverse the spell, Midas was told to wash his hands, swim and pray in the Pactolus River. Today there is gold in the river. Wool is the best way to pan for gold.

There is a famous story about Croesus. He wanted to know if Solon the law maker philosopher would say he was the most blessed. Croesus thought that because of his wealth that others would call him blessed. Solon picked others over him much to his dismay.

Cyrus the Persian invaded in the night. The people of Sardis did not now that they were coming. They captured Croesus. He became an advisor to Cyrus.


Letter to Sardis from the Bible

“To the angel of the church in Sardis write:

These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead.

2 Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God.

3 Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.

4 Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy.

5 The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels.

6 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.


Commentary

Jesus holds the future.

Sardis slept while Persians invaded in the night. They didn’t know they were coming.

Jesus tells us to be ready in other places in the Bible. The minute that you are born, you are marching toward death. You have a finite number of days. Don’t leave anything unfinished.

Like Croesus, they had everything but were dead. Your king Croesus had everything and was wealthy, but he was unhappy. He was seeking blessing.

Jesus did not say follow Me as He said to the disciples in the beginning. Now, he said walk with me. We are now together as in heaven. We will walk as one. Worthy ones will don a white pure clean garment. It is without blemish. White is difficult to keep clean especially when you are wearing it.

The worthy are written in the book of Life and will enjoy eternity with all the saints-past, present and future.


Jews came here after Babylonian exile. Antioch II brought more Jews here. Sardis is where the Sephardic Jews came from prior to going to Spain.

It is interesting to note that a mosaic inscription uses the word embroidered.

This is the largest synagogue of the Diaspora. It was abandoned in the 7th century. Sections of walls are inscribed with names of donors.

This is still in Sardis but the ancient city is so big that we had to drive. Ertunga pointed out the flat farmland. During the time of Nero, the wine from Salihli vineyards riviled wines in Rome so he ordered the vineyards to be burned. This was for senators to make more money. Talk about eliminating the competition!


Letter Philadelphia from the Bible with Commentary

This is the most positive letter. Every church wants to be like Philadelphia. But believers always have challenges no matter what time period that this letter is read.

7 “To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write:

These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.

Jesus is the only one who is holy and true. He is of the lineage of David of which comes the Messiah. Jesus IS the Gospel, the good news in the flesh. What Jesus shuts, stays shut. What He opens, stays pen.

8 I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.

Jesus has invited those to whom this letter is written into fellowship. Persecution is hard and occurs most often when in the minority.

9 I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you.

Jews who are liars may be those who do not believe that the long awaited Messiah has NOT arrived. They try to dissuade those Jews who do believe. They cast doubts.

This may be a reference to Jacob in the Old Testament when his brothers came to worship him in Egypt.

10 Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.

11 I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.

Their faith in Jesus is something precious. Hold on tight.

12 The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will they leave it.

Only pillars remain in this 5th century church and they are massive.

Pillars in heaven will be more outstanding. Heaven is forever.

…I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem,…

The 6th century church certainly thought of Hagia Sophia in Constantinopole.

…which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on them my new name.

Names are a BIG thing in the Bible. The meaning, lists of ancestors, and even changing names. God told Moses to say to the Israelites that I AM sent them. He will right his true name on His sheep. We belong to him. And He will write where we are going.

13 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”


Aphrodisias

Caria and Greeks found themselves in the middle of nowhere. Caravans stopped here to rest on their journey.

Mark Anthony passed through this area many times but the city gave support to Octavius in he Battle of Actium.

Zoidos, a slave of Julius Ceasar, was freed and returned to his hometown. He learned lot as he was like a “house slave”. He helped Octavius in his fight against Marc Antony. After Octavius won, he showed his appreciation by giving the city much riches. To the winner goes the spoils.

Sardis had always been inhabited. In the 5th century, it was called Travopolis which means city of the cross.

In the 1950s, there was a dam built nearby and the officials and the photographer arriving for the opening lost their way and came to this village. It was like time stood still sitting on benches like Roman times.

He took the pictures back to New York University and they did an article in National Geographic. I have pasted the link to the archive but many of you probably have a copy in your basement.

Turkey in 1969 National Geographic

An NYU archeologist, Dr. Kenan T. Erim, spent 30 years in Aphrodisias. Ertunga met him when he was here on a school sponsored trip. Dr. Erim said that when he told his father he wanted to be an archeologist, his response was, “Why do you want to be a beggar?”

He didn’t know at the time that he would always be asking and looking for money to fund the excavation. He died in 1990 and is buried here.

Marble is stronger than limestone but both are attacked by lichens and microorganisms. They enlisted the help of local village women to clean the pillars and apply a mild biocide. Here is a picture before and after.

Here is an interesting scholarly article about monumental decay. The best thing for an artifact is to not be found!!

Microbial Decay of Ancient Monuments

The town of Geyre was relocated after learning that it was on top of the ancient city of Aphrodisias.

Aphrodisias was known for having the best quality of marble. There was even a school here for making statues.

One would order a sarcophagus while still living. There were many mask friezes. The holes is the eyes were places for gemstones. Those gemstones are long gone!!

A temple to goddess Aphrodite and Augustus that faces west. (Early churches followed that tradition as well.)

The architect was quiet and under much criticism. He had the temple curtained and unveiled it on the birthday of Aphrodite where the sun shone on the face of her statue. Maximum awe!

This first century AD temple had three levels supported by columns.
The first level was Doric. The second level was Ionic Greek. The third level was Corinthian Roman.

The archeology team is Turkish and American.

There is an Olympic size swimming pool. It reminded me of The Big Pool in Garden City KS. Soon The Big Pool will be a historical memory much like this one is.

Olympics were held here and names were inscribed on these pillars for popular athletes. An early hall of fame.

Hadrian visited here. Whenever that happened, it was a bid deal and the city wanted commemorate it with a gate, etc.

A Greek bath is Roman bath and the Christians sometimes turned them into churches. Maybe it was convenient for baptisms????

Muslims also kept the baths. There was one for the ladies. The mothers were able to check out potential wives for their sons.

Baths were important ritual prior to weddings. A henna night took place in the baths with the brides’ girlfriends. Men drank together in their baths.

Circus Maximus is a popular Hippodrome in Rome but pales in comparison to the many stadia that we are seeing all over Turkey.

Greek statues have big heads and good physiques. Romans normal sized heads with bodies showing their ripped abs. Often the heads were replaced with the next ruler’s head.

There is a book talking about how to be an ideal Greek man in antiquity. He was to work out his muscles at some point in the day and meet over long dinners for thoughtful discussions. Brain and fit. The ideal Roman was just brawn!!

There is an amazing air conditioned museum. This one reminded me of the bread that we ate at lunch.

I think that this guy died of a splitting headache. Note the tear jars and the coin in the mouth to pay the toll for the boatman on the River Styx.


WORD FROM HOME:

My daughter, Julie, wanted to get a cat. She returned with two 3-month old brothers: Guinness (black with white bib) and Jameson (tabby). They couldn’t look more different but they love each other so she couldn’t separate them. They will be good company while Julie is at work. They will be full grown when we meet them!!! I learned that the definition of a tabby is having an M on the forehead.

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