Thursday, April 2, 2009

Step Off, Steps of Ancient Theatres in Turkey

Turkey has a lot of ancient sites. And what it probably has more of than anything else, is steps. I feel like the only things I saw the whole time were ancient steps - steps of a stadium, steps of a bouleuterion, steps carved into bedrock. Most abundant, of course, were the steps of theatres. I am dreaming steps.

The Turkey Trip has been going since the 1980s. Of course, long before then it had been a tradition for Regular Members to take off for foreign parts as soon as the seminars ended, often travelling in groups. John Camp didn't lead the first 'Optional Trip' to Turkey, but he took it up just a year or two after. That was around 1984-5-6. Here it is, 2009. That's a lot of Turkey trips. While we were recently there for 2 weeks, we covered over 4,000 km. If you do the math, you will see that the peeps of the American School of Classical Studies (at Athens) have covered an enormous amount of ground in that particular country.

And they have come across a lot of theatres. Ionia, Caria, etc. are marked by a large number of cities founded in the Hellenistic period, and all of those cities had to have a place for the magic of the stage. What's horrible is that they all have started to blend together in my memory. I just remember steps and steps and steps. Here's a sample of what we saw:

The well-preserved theatre of Priene.

The wet theatre of Magnesia-on-Meander.

The gigantic theatre at Ephesos.

The theatre seats at Alinda, uprooted by olive trees.


The theatre at Miletus, right before it filled up with about 100 teenage boys on a field trip.

The super-tall theatre at Pergamon.

The overgrown theatre at Notion.

Jennifer Neils shows off the theatre at the Asklepion of Pergamon.

And of course, best of all, take a look at the theatre of Iasos. Almost nothing remains, but the shape of the structure, cut into the hill, is entirely clear. Look to the cows.

I'm getting twitchy just thinking about it. That's a lot of ancient theatres.

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