Fourth Impression: Meeting the marble antiquity and Artimes Dionysus
The summer school was organise, as mentioned earlier, at Sirince a small holiday town / village popular for its vineyards, wines, olive plantations, and some really scenic mountains. And if you find the right location, you can also get a glimpse of the Ege from the mountain top. Sirince is closed to Selcuk which is closer to the sea level. Selcuk, it turns out, is house to the archeological site of Ephesus -an ancient Greek city. Selcuk even has a very simple but well curated Ephesus museum (or Slecuk museum) which houses thousands of things from the archeological site. From busts of the great philosophers, mathematicians, a whole range of really tiny objects, tools, a gigantic sculpture of the emperor, a whole lot columns and capitals, and even friezes, even a large piece of mosaic flooring in the backyard. As if that itself was not too wonderful, the museum also has two large statues of the goddess Artemis. And, as if that was not impressive enough, there is the archaeological site of the entire city that one can visit -not too far from the Selcuk.
On Wedenesday the organizers of the summer school offered a break day, and even helped organise a trip to beach in smaller groups. Until 11 AM of Wednesday I was not sure if I wanted to go out spend the day at the beach. I rather thought to myself to finish some writing, read Architecture and Objects, and really not do too much that day. However, Ahmet was kind enough to think of asking me to join him and my other two roommates to drive down to see the Ephesus museum, the archaeological site, a nice lunch, and then to the beach. It was the lunch that really got me excited more than anything else. Not because I did not want to see any of the other things, but mostly because I was more keen in not doing many things that day, and it is difficult for me to turn down food. So, at 11:30, we all met near Ahmet’s car and began moving towards Selcuk.
After a stop at the museum, we went to this wonderful lunch place a few minutes’ walk from the museum. It is on our walk back after this lunch that Ceyhan explained me about Irfan and ilm. Soon after lunch we drove to Ephesus. Here, we decided to take the horse carriage to reach an alternative entrance to the archaeological site. This was also recommended by one of the colleagues from the summer school. The big reason for this suggestion has to do with the geographical setting of Ephesus. Ephesus as a city literally wraps around a tall mountain, but the bulk of the public spaces and markets of the city were closer to the sea side -the city at one point also had a boat small port connected by a water way to the sea. One does not really experience the sea like this from the ruins today. The city not only wraps around the mountain, the terrain on one of the sides is higher than the usual entrance. That makes it easier to walk down -which is much needed in that scorching heat -one really wonders how did people philosophise, or pretty much did anything during summer when it was not a ruin. Another reason to take the other route was that it is easier to reach back to the parking lot. You do not have to climb up and walk back to the parking lot. That’s simply a lot of walking. Plus, you would miss the other side of the mountain. It may seem like there isn’t much along this back route, but the orchards of a wide range of fruits is simply a treat to the eyes and soul. It makes you realise why Artemis is the goddess of this city.
But nothing matched the encounter with the ruins of the city. The sheer presence of this marble rubble which vaguely, but in a way more clearly, and tremendously, hinted the form of the city than any intact building can. Columns sheered along their height, large capitals sprawling on what was once a street -also made of marbles, white, grey, and black. The marbles of the street felt like soft wax which had worn off in the smoothest way possible into shapes that were unfit to be streets anymore. It was a like a sedimentary rock was turning into a molten igneous rock. What were once the streets along the agora, were fronted by the most intricately put together mosaic pavements. The steps leading down to the Ephesus library and the reconstructed façade of the library almost appeared like stage set, and yet one can wonder what a magnificent edifice this library would have been in the heydays. But perhaps the most impressive, or sublime, was the amphitheatre carved into the mountain. The sheer scale of the theatre itself is overwhelming -like the Koolhaas’ bigness it is enthralling due to its sheer scale.
After walking along the streets of Ephesus, we headed to the beach nearby. The beach was not too much of a beach to begin with. But it was not uninteresting. The sea water was as still as a large lake on a windy day. It wasn’t very deep. The water was really cristal clear. The beach had more pebbles than sand. The water was salty as one would expect. It was easier to float on the water, for some reason. All four of us played a fun game of catch in the sea, without the fear of drowning or being carried by the waves. After spending a short while at the beach, we headed back to Sirince. On the way back we saw it once again, that gigantic carved land art which we refer to as an amphitheatre. But this time afar, and in the full setting of the mountains.
Later that night, the four of us, Ahmet, Ceyhan, Matja, and I, decided to go to a place atop the camping sight where it was absolutely pitch black to see the night sky and drink the wine that Ceyhan had bought for us. It was inevitable to wonder and talk about how the marvellous minds of this region and the neighbouring Greece, their mindboggling speculations, and the role this wine must have played in adding flavour and flight to those speculations.