April   Leave a comment

Feeling the need for a dose of history, as if just living amongst it here isn’t enough, I made another visit to the ancient city of Arykanda on Sunday. It’s quite a curious place, evidence suggests that it was initially built in the 5th Century B.C. by the Lycians then some parts had to be rebuilt by the Greeks and then again by the Romans and was used up to the 11th Century A.D. when the settlement moved down by what became the old main road.

We always seem to have marked periods of our history by wars and invasions, at least that’s how it seems to me and I always find it sad that we needed to protect ourselves from from attackers and invaders by building fortified places to live. It’s a great shame that we couldn’t live peaceably but an even greater shame that we usually obliterated the civilisation and history of a people that we attacked and defeated. If we had kept and preserved the knowledge and discoveries of conquered peoples how much more rich would our lives be now?

Imagine how tough life must have been, not only was it hard enough to farm and grow enough to sustain ourselves but there was the constant worry of whether a marauding band of ne’er do wells bent on death, destruction, rape and pillage was just over the horizon heading straight for your village. No surprise that folk chose to build places that could be better defended and of course to begin with they chose the most inaccessible place available, and that brings me to Arykanda. It is situated on a very steep slope right under a huge vertical cliff, just to wander around it’s different levels requires the agility and lungs of a mountain goat (of which there are plenty but you can’t get near them), indeed the slope is so steep that there wasn’t room for a complete stadium so they had to build a half stadium with seats only on one side, a steep drop fifty feet down to the theatre being on the other side. Still the gladiators could throw each other off the edge if the crowd gave the thumbs down, I don’t suppose they had many lions or other wild animals there though, what with one side of the stadium being completely open.

Only a few rows of stone seats in the half stadium

Only a few rows of stone seats in the half stadium

Another thing that I wondered about while getting my breath back was the lack of ordinary peoples’ houses. The pamphlet that accompanies the receipt for your entry fee mentions an area that is thought to have been the original residential area of the city, there are a couple of other areas where there are a few houses but these were stone built and would not have housed everybody.

Decoration marking steps on the half stadium seats, the theatre steps have the same decoration, could they have been painted white to make the steps more obvious?

Decoration marking steps on the half stadium seats, the theatre steps have the same decoration, could they have been painted white to make the steps more obvious?

These cities always have the bath houses, temples and markets etc. and even the small theatres are usually built to seat an audience of at least six thousand, that seems to be the standard entry level theatre size, but where did all these people live? Nowhere have I seen any housing, or the remains of it, for the workers, the poor guys cutting all this rock and lugging it up vertiginous slopes to make a nice bath complex for the rich people to luxuriate in, for example. It seems to me to be very likely that the lower status housing would have been simply and cheaply constructed of wood and mud, materials that degraded and were absorbed back into the land due to the weather. Anyway it was a nice day out, we took the very pleasant back road from Çukurbağ through Kasaba, Dirgenler and Çamlıbel and had a pleasant lunch at the main road watering hole afterwards.

The theatre is below the open side of the half stadium. Note the tree growing out of the seating

The theatre is below the open side of the half stadium.

At home the cats are now thoroughly acquainted with the garden and have been bringing various small furry creatures, some dead some not, in through their cat-flap. I caught Defne practising her climbing, the photograph does not how much she and the tree were wobbling and she did well not to fall off.

Wobbling like mad but Defne didn't fall.

Wobbling like mad but Defne didn’t fall.

The usual knocking sounds of courting tortoises have been heard amongst the bushes, this pair didn’t seem in the least embarrassed.

There'll be a few babies coming along later.

There’ll be a few babies coming along later.

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Posted April 6, 2015 by cukurbagli in Uncategorized

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