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.
We had a great day visiting the sites of Istanbul. The city is important in secular and church history. A few of us spent almost the entire day in the marvelous Archaeological Museum. I made more than 500 hi-res digital photos today. Tonight at dinner we celebrated a birthday and an anniversary. Not enough time to post any photos, but will plan to do that later.
As the group returns home I will be departing for Eastern Turkey with three friends. We will spend a week in that part visiting some of the important Old Testament sights.
We probably will not have Internet access tomorrow night from Mount Ararat, but we may have access the following night. I will post some notes whenever possible. Keep checking back.
Our flight from Antalya to Istanbul was delayed by a little over an hour. We felt right at home! Istanbul was formerly known as Byzantium and Constantinople. This is where Europe meets Asia. We enjoyed a boat ride along the Bosphorus, vital waterway linking the Black Sea to the Mediterranean Sea. The Asian side was known as Bythinia in Roman times. Peter addressed his epistles to the saints in various parts of modern Turkey (1 Peter 1:1). We made a short visit to the Grand Bazaar. This bazaar is made up of 4,000 little shops. The prices are not that great and one must be able to bargain or else be ripped off.
This photo shows the Golden Horn in Istanbul, Turkey. Here is located the Suleymaniye Mosque, the Hagai Sophia, and Topkapi Palace.
If you are visiting the blog for the first time be sure that you click on May 2007 (to the right) or Previous Entries (at the bottom of the page) to see the early part of the tour.
Friday we visited the historic ruins of ancient Pamphylia: Antalya (biblical Attalia, Acts 14:25) and Perge. Antalya is the modern name for Attalia which served as the port of entry from Egypt and Syria to the interior of Asia. From here Paul sailed back to Antioch (Acts 14:25). Our visit included the harbor, and Hadrian’s Gate, The photo below is of the harbor in Antalya (biblical Attalia).
We enjoyed the visit to Perga very much. There are impressive Hellenistic and Roman ruins. Most of the Roman structures date to the second century A.D. This is where John Mark turned back from the work (Acts 13:13-14; 15:37-39). On his return from the first journey, Paul spent some time preaching here (Acts 14:25).
The museum in Antalya is one of the nicest regional museums I have visited. Many of the artifacts, especially the statuary, are from the second century Roman city of Perga. Here is a photo of an Imperial Priest. A knowledge of the Roman Cult is important when one begins to study the book of Revelation. These were the men who gave the certificates to those who had worshiped the Emperor.
Antalya is a popular Mediterranean resort town with many nice hotels. I would have enjoyed a few days just to relax. Next is Istanbul.
Konya is the site of ancient Iconium, one of the oldest cities of Anatolia. Paul and Barnabas encountered much opposition in this city (Acts 14:1-6). Konya is best known today as the home of the Whirling Dervishes. We made a brief visit of Konya including the Archaeological Museum. The museum contains three inscribed stone monuments of interest. One mentions Derbe, another one mentions Iconium, and the third one mentions Lystra (photo below). No ruins of Iconium have been excavated. The legendary second century Acts of Paul, telling about a convert by the name of Thecla, takes it setting in Iconium.
We continued west to Yalvac for a visit to the site of Pisidian Antioch. Yalvac is located on a plateau at an elevation of about 3600 feet above sea level. The nearby mound of Pisidian Antioch marks the spot where Paul presented a lesson summarizing the history of the Jewish nation, especially as it related to the Messianic promise (Acts 13:14-41). It was from this city that Paul announced that he would turn to the Gentiles (13:44-52). We also made a short stop at the archaeological museum in Yalvac and then continued through the beautiful mountains and valleys, and past Lake Egridir, to the Pamphylian coast to Antalya (Attalia) for overnight. Here is a photo of the Roman aqueduct that supplied water to the city of Antioch.
Friday we visited Perga, Attalia, and the Archaeological Museum. Check back later to see the photos.
We had a great day Thursday visiting Pisidian Antioch. I will try to get sme photos posted tonight. This morning we will visit Perga in Pamphylia, a short drive from our hotel. Check back later in the day.