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.
We have a Best of Scotland tour planned for September 10-20.
For next March (2008) we are planning a tour of Israel and Jordan.
In May (2008) we are planning to repeat the Steps of Paul and John tour that visits the area of the Seven Churches in Turkey (plus Hierapolis, Colossae, and Miletus), Greek islands of Patmos, Rhodes, and Crete, and Athens and Corinth in Greece.
If you have interest in receiving further information about these tours please send us an Email to fjtours [at] gmail [dot] com. I am sure you understand to replace the [at] with @, and the [dot] with . I have written it this way to avoid robots picking up the address.
We left Van this morning and drove along the lake to the place where we could take a boat to Akdamar Island in Lake Van. This is where we find an early 10th century Armenian church. The church has undergone an expensive restoration and reopened by the Turkish government a little over two months ago as a museum. Too much to explain about the Armenians and this church at this time. There are some marvelous paintings and carvings of Bible stories inside and outside the church. Here is a photo I made this morning as we approached the island.
Later we enjoyed one of those unexpected moments when we saw a group of men adding a room to a typical (of the area southwest of Van) stone house. There are many similarities between this house and those of Bible times in Israel. This photo shows the steps (ladder) going up to the roof that is made of timbers covered with earth. The people here were absolutely thrilled that we stopped to visit a while.
We arrived at Batman by about 4 p.m. and headed south to Hasankeyf. This is the area of Southeast Anatolia. Batman is a center of oil production. It is a thriving Kurdish town. Our hotel is probably 3-star. It is nice and clean and the staff is very helpful. There is a new mall across the street with a large grocery, and Burger King, and several other stores. Hasankeyf has a history associated with the Seljuks and the Ottoman Empire. I still need to spend some time studying about the site. There are old cave dwellings similar to those one sees in Cappadocia.The guard at one of the archaeological sites told me that Hasankeyf is an Arab town. He said that Batman (only about 20 miles away is a Kurdish town. My main interest in the old city is that it is built on the Tigris River (call Dicle in Turkish). The Tigris begins in the mountians of ancient Ararat and flows into the Persian Gulf. The Tigris is mentioned twice in the Bible. It is said to be the third of the rivers flowing out of the garden of Eden. It flows on the east side of Assyria (Genesis 2:14). The river is also mentioned in Daniel 10:4. The prophet stood beside “the great river, the Tigris.” This likely would have been far south of here. Ancient Nineveh was built on the Tigris.
The building of a dam on the Tigris threatens the existence of Hasankeyf. It is difficult to stop “progress,” but it is a shame to see history like this flooded. It has happened to other sites in Turkey such as Zugma on the Euphrates.
Tomorrow we head for Sanliurfa and Harran.
Lake Van is a large inland body of water of about 1400 square miles at an elevation of 5737 feet. The lake is fed by a number of rivers and is highly alkaline. It is said that folks sometimes wash their clothes in the lake. Our hotel is located on the lake side and the view is beautiful.
In Assyrian records this area was called Urartu. In the Bible it is called Ararat. The English term Ararat is a transliteration of the Hebrew term. The four references where the term appears are Gen. 8:4, 2 Kings 19:37 = Isa. 37:38, and Jer. 51:27. The King James version uses the term Armenia in 2 Kings 19:37 and Isaiah 37:38 because that is what the territory was later called. The Septuagint uses Armenia only in Isaiah 37:38.
The photo below shows the castle or rock of Van.
Tushpa, the ancient city of the Urartians, was built on this rock, which provides a commanding view over the lake, and at the base of the rock. At the beginning of the 20th century the city of Van was built over the ancient ruins, but was destroyed by the Russians in 1916. The area now is nothing more than a grassy knoll. On the side of the rock and at the top there are inscriptions, the tombs of eighth and ninth century B.C. Urartian kings, and ruins of a temple. A short distance from Van is another site called Toprakkale which marks the Urartian fortress of Rusahinili.
Here is a photo of some Urartuan pottery from the Museum at Ankara.
Tomorrow night we will be staying at Batman. Really!
I saw our group off at the Istanbul airport early yesterday morning. Elizabeth informs me that everyone made it to New York safely. A few hours later I left for Van in Eastern Turkey with Leon Mauldin, David Padfield, and Gene Taylor. We will be visiting numerous OT sites in the east. In Van we picked up a rental vehicle and headed for Dogubayazit. This is the small town closest to Mount Ararat. This entire area of Turkey is the ancient Urartu, the land of Ararat. The Bible tells us that the ark landed in the mountains of Ararat (Genesis 8:4). The specific peak is not mentioned and there are several contenders for the mountain of the Bible. Mount Ararat is the one best known.
On the way north from Van we stopped at the Muradiye falls. The terrain you see in the photos if typical of that area of Ararat. Here is a photo of the falls.
My only other trip to this area was in 1995, so I am excited about the possibility of getting hi-res digital photos of the area.
Between Muradiye and Dogubeyazit we reached an elevation of about 8,000 feet, saw lots of snow still on the mountains, and encountered a little rain. There were shepherds with sheep all through this area. When we arrived our hotel facing Mount Ararat the mountain was totally covered in dark clouds. Within two hours we were able to go out and made wonderful photos of the mountains. We even saw a rainbow. No kidding! The photo below iS of Greater Ararat. We never saw Lesser Ararat completely cloudless. We drove to the check point at the border with Iran. I was surprised to find about 3 tours groups at the hotel. The last time I was there my companions and I were the only ones in the hotel. Here is one of the photos I made yesterday.
This morning we made more photos and visited a few places nearby. In the afternoon we drove back to Van. We went to the museum but it was closed for restoration. We did make photos of some items in the courtyard. We also visited the Rock in Van. We are now at our hotel on the shore of Lake Van.