Tuesday I spent some time in the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Philadelphia. The museum has a nice collection of artifacts of interest to the student of the Bible. One of the best known names associated with the museum in the field of biblical archaeology is that of James Pritchard. Professor Pritchard edited The Ancient Near East Texts and The Ancient Near East in Texts and Pictures. He was also well known for his work at Gibeon and the book, Gibeon, Where the Sun Stood Still.
The museum has a nice collection from Egypt, Canaan, and Mesopotamia. The section on Mesopotamia is now closed with many of the items included as part of a traveling exhibit. One of the retired professors at UP told me 4 years ago that the museum has 40,000 clay cuneiform tablets, but I saw none of them on display during this visit. Currently there is an exhibit on Amarna, but I did not find it especially impressive after having visited museums in Egypt, London, and Berlin.
There is a good section on Rome, especially dealing with Emperor Worship. This is a helpful resource in studying Revelation.
The Museum does not permit copies of photos made in the museum to be posted on other web sites (without some special permission, perhaps). If you are in the area, it is a worthwhile visit.
Ben Witherington recently visited Mount Nemrud [or Nemrut] and has posted several good photos. Note his point about the Greek of Ephesians and 2 Peter, and his theological comments on heaven and hell. Click here to go to the Ben Witherington blog.
And while looking at Ben’s blog, you might want to check his excellent stormy night photos of the Library of Celsus at Ephesus. Click here.
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“A good name is to be more desired than great wealth,
Favor is better than silver and gold” (Proverbs 22:1 NASBu).
There’s no place like home. David, Gene and I left our Istanbul hotel at 4 a.m. Monday morning. We had good flights to Frankfurt and to New York. Gene was to make a connection in Tampa so we were on the same flight from JFK. We left the gate on time, but then had to wait on the runway because of bad weather along the eastern seaboard. We got to Tampa 4 1/2 hours after departure. So far as I know Gene made his flight.
In the next few days I will try to provide some general summary of the trip and post more info about the tours for 2008. Thanks for all the comments you have made (most have come by Email rather than on the blog).
This morning we left the hotel in Kahta about 10 a.m. and headed back toward Mount Nemrut to visit the Karakus Tumulus. This site was built in 36 B.C. by King Mithridates II as a burial mound for three female relatives. This, like Nemrut, was part of the Kingdom of Commangene. From here we had a nice, distant view of Mount Nemrut. This photo shows the mound at Karakus. Nemrut is the high pointed peak.
We continued a few miles to see a Roman bridge over the Cendere River that was built in the 2nd century A.D. in the time of Septimius Severus. Some of the limestone blocks in this bridge we made from columns that once surrounded the Karakus Tumulus.
Then we drove to the Gaziantep airport to wait for our flight to Istanbul. Lord willing, tomorrow morning we will depart for home.
I am writing this blog in a restaurant in the airport while eating spaghetti.
During the Ancient Crossroads tour the group traveled 1953 miles by coach. On the excursion to Eastern Turkey we drove 1376 miles. That’s a total of 3328 miles. We did not see an accident during the entire 3 weeks. It is also significant that we did not encounter anything unpleasant except for kids at some locations who tried to become our guide.
David Padfield says that Ferrell drives surprisingly well for a man of his age. Is that a slam, or what?
We did not expect the hotels in the East to be as good as we have used in the western and central part of the country. Our hotels ranged from the less than desirable one at Mount Ararat to a 5-star hotel in Gaziantep. Every hotel (for the three weeks had wireless Internet available except for the one at Mount Ararat. This was very nice, and allowed me to keep this blog fairly current every day. It is time consuming. Most nights I only got about 6 to 6 1/2 hours sleep. I need to get home and rest a while!
We are thankful to the Lord for the safety of our travel. We are thankful to have been able to make this trip and to have shared it with you. We hope to be able to share it with our brethren in many ways in the coming years.
We arrived safely in Istanbul and are now in the Airport Hotel. We have to be up at 3 a.m. to make the flight to the USA.
This morning we visited the Muze in Gaziantep. This museum contains many of the mosaics and some statues from the Roman city of Zeugma. Zeugma has been covered by the waters of the Euphrates River due to one of the dams built by the Turkish government to provide hydro-electric power and water for irrigation for southeastern Turkey. Archaeologists worked diligently over a period of years to preserve as much of the material as possible. The small mosaic below had been called Gypsy Girl. I think it would rival the Mona Lisa.
By 11 a.m. we headed for Mount Nemrut. We stopped at a gas station in Bezni for a comfort break. The locals who were sitting around talking did their best to communicate with us. Everyone we meet is friendly. I call this photo “Mayberry, Turkey.”
After checking in at the Zeus Hotel in Kahta, we arranged for transportation to Mount Nemrut. In 1995 I drove to the parking lot in a rental car, but decided that it would be best to leave the driving to someone else. It took about 1 1/2 hours to get to Nemrut Dagi. This mountain is part of the Anti Taurus range and is more than 7000 feet above sea level. This area was known as the Kingdom of Commangene in the three centuries preceding the Christian ear. It served as a buffer between the Seleucids and the Parthians in the third century B.C. In the first century B.C. it served as a buffer between the Romans and the Parthians. The most famous ruler was Antiochos I Epiphanes (ruled 64-38 B.C.). In 72 A.D. Vespasian made the Commangene part of Roman Asia. Being away from home I have relied on LonleyPlanet Turkey (April, 2007) for some of the facts. The sunset was not very brilliant this evening. In fact we left a little early because of an approaching shower. The tumulos was made of loose stones in the form of a pyramid. Antiochus ordered this built as a burial site for himself and some relatives. The remaining tumbled statues of rulers and gods are impressive. Some of the heads are between 6 and 7 feet tall. Take a look at the people beside one of them. The site overlooks the Euphrates River to the East.
By 8:30 our driver had us back to the hotel and we enjoyed the evening meal. We thought Leon would have arrived in the USA, so we called him to tell him that this was the best day of the tour!
Even though we are in a very nice hotel in Gaziantep, the wireless connection has been less than ideal. That gets time consuming and a bit frustrating. Thanks for writing about tours and other things you want me to take care of. I would like to do so but do not have the time. This is a study tour and we stay busy.
If you have written about one of the future tours I will keep your Email and respond when I can back at home.
Here is a photo of the Euphrates River that I made yesterday. Read an article I have written on the Euphrates with a photo of the river I made in 1971 near the Persian Gulf. Note the difference in the color of the water in the mountainous region and in the flat area in the south of Iraq.
Today we are going to Mount Nemrut (Nemrut Dagi) after a visit to the Gaziantep Museum.
We had a good visit to the museum and have now arrived at Katha. At 4 p.m. we will begin the trip to Nemrut Dagi in time for sunset photos.
We arrived in Gaziantep in time for Leon to make his flight to Istanbul. He plans to return home tomorrow. I have had some problems with the wireless connection in the hotel tonight. Will have to wait till later to post about our visits to Sanliurfa, the Euphrates River, and Carchemish. Here is a photo we made at Carchemish. The tell is in the middle, about 1/2 mile behind us. I know the photo is a little corny, but we are out, standing in our field.
Yesterday afternoon we visited Harran (some English Bible versions use Haran). Harran is located in biblical Padan-Aram (Genesis 25:29, et al). Abraham and his family lived in the area (Genesis 11:21). The city has a long history which I will not go into now. For the past two hundred years the people who live here have built mud brick conical, beehive-shaped houses. We also see some of these houses in northern Syria. Here is a photo showing one of the houses. Due to the heat in this area we waited until late in the afternoon to visit. The lines you see going across the buildings are made by the shadow from the power lines. An oven can be seen to the right of the boy. The woman is bringing a load of pruned grape vines to be used in her oven.
Today we visit Sanliurfa, claimed by the Muslims to be the birthplace of Abraham, and the Euphrates River.
We had a long day driving from Batman to Sanliurfa. We visited the museum here and then went to Harran before returning to Sanliurfa for the evening. I probably will not be able to get anything else posted tonight, but wanted those who are following our journey to know that we are o.k.