14 September 2023
I spend my day looking at stones. If there is one thing the Turks have a lot of it is stones. These stones reflect their many great architectural and archaeological accomplishments over the centuries. Stones are also one of the main reasons I visit Turkey for the fourth time. Archaeologists are always digging and uncovering more ancient history told by its stones. I love it!
Assos and The Temple of Athena
The Temple of Athena at Assos, district of Çanakkale, sits about 770 feet atop a steep hill overlooking the Troad Peninsula and the Aegean. Aeolian colonists from the island of Lesbos founded Assos as early as 1000 BCE. Possibly Paul the Apostle visited Assos. I’m told Aristotle slept here. Assos became one of the first western Anatolian cities converted to Christianity
This altar is an intriguing remnant of antiquity. Its construction is believed to have taken place during the Hellenistic period, around the 4th to 3rd century BCE. It honors the Greek god Zeus, the king of the Olympian gods. Among local legends is the story that Zeus, the God of Gods, lived and led the Trojan War from here. However, it is likely he led it from the peaks of nearby Mount Ida.
A sheer rock walled acropolis dominates the highest point over the city. On the east side is the ancient Temple of Athena constructed during the 4th century BCE. It’s dedicated to the goddess Athena, Greek goddess of wisdom and warfare (though I can’t get the connection). The Greek architect Pytheos is credited with its construction.
Pytheos made major contributions to ancient Greek architecture. He is famous for constructing the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus in Bodrum, which is one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. The Temple of Athena is also one of his architectural masterpieces, showcasing his skill in designing and constructing significant structures of the time.
Remains of the acropolis, temple columns, gates, theatre, stoa and agora are present. The Doric temple has a peripteros plan. This is a colonnaded design with six columns on its short sides and thirteen on its long sides. Andesite blocks carved out of the rocks of the acropolis were used in building the temple.
Throughout its history, the temple experienced various phases of use and alteration, reflecting the cultural shifts and influences of different civilizations that occupied this strategic location. The temple’s breathtaking panoramic views of the peninsula and sea make it a site of both religious and architectural importance for the ancient Greeks.
Aristotle hung out here. Since then, many of the intricate friezes and decorative architectural artifacts were moved and “stored” in museums of Boston and Paris.
Adatepe and The Altar of Zeus
Adatepe is a small village on the Aegean with picturesque surroundings, historical buildings, and charming atmosphere. One local site of historical significance is the Altar of Zeus, a short walk above the village. While there are considerably fewer stones to see at this site, the views are spectacular. The Greek and their Gods knew good real estate!
Unfortunately, our van drove by without stopping. Sometimes I think our guide makes up more mythical stories about why we have to turn around. Or in this case, back down the narrow rocky road. Something is told to us about fires in the area. Not a burnt tree in sight. But the old cemetery down the hillside was interesting.
An Olive Oil Museum
“olea prima omnium arborum est…” “olive is first among all trees“Lucius Junius Moderatus Columella
Located in Küçükkuyu is the Adatepe Zeytinyağı Müzesi – the Olive Oil Museum. Who doesn’t want to check out the olive oil scene in one of the largest olive oil producing countries in the world? We begin by visiting an old soap factory turned olive oil museum.
In 2001, this commercial enterprise was established for tourists and exhibits the tools about olive and olive oil. These include olive presses, harvesting and storage equipment. Displayed in the museum are old olive presses, olive picking tools, transport and storage containers, and various folkloric objects. One can learn about the traditional method of making olive oil soap. Of course, one can buy all sorts of local olive related products including olive oil.
We drive around the beautiful Edremit Bay overlooking North Aegean Islands to Alibey Island and the village of Namik Kemal, Ayvalik. The sea side village is busy with markets and a plethora of restaurants, mostly inhabited by locals. Breezes are warm, night is casual, ice cream great, sea food delicious. The cats are becoming a problem. Our overnight room is at the small but modern Labris Hotel.