“Mesopotamia: Ancient Art and Architecture”

I am excited to dive into “Mesopotamia: Ancient Art and Architecture” written by renowned professor Zainab Bahrani.

This book is the first in ten years to present a comprehensive survey of art and architecture in Mesopotamia (modern Iraq, northeast Syria and southeast Turkey), from 8000 BCE to the arrival of Islam in 636 BCE.

Published by Thames & Hudson Publishers, I am especially excited about this work because a couple of my photographs from southeastern Turkey are featured in the book.

The book is richly illustrated with around 400 full-colour photographs, and maps and time charts that guide readers through the chronology and geography of this part of the ancient Near East.

It addresses such essential art historical themes as the origins of narrative representation, the first emergence of historical public monuments and the earliest aesthetic commentaries. It explains how images and monuments were made and how they were viewed. It also traces the ancient practices of collecting and conservation and rituals of animating statues and of architectural construction.

Accessible to students and non-specialists, the book expands the scope of standard surveys to cover art and architecture from the prehistoric to the Roman era, including the legendary cities of Ur, Babylon, Nineveh, Hatra and Seleucia on the Tigris.

Graveyard and Monuments: Ahlat, Bitlis, Turkey

Along the shore of lake Van from Tatvan is the small but significant town of Ahlat, famous for its splendid Seljuk Turkish tombs and graveyard.

Founded during the reign of Caliph Omar (AD 581–644), Ahlat became a Seljuk stronghold in the 1060s. When the Seljuk sultan Alp Arslan rode out to meet the Byzantine emperor Romanus Diogenes in battle on the field of Manzikert, Ahlat was his base.

Just west of Ahlat is an overgrown polygonal 13th-century tomb, Usta Şağirt Kümbeti (Ulu Kümbeti), 300m off the highway. It’s the largest Seljuk tomb in the area.

Further along the highway on the left is a museum, and behind it a vast Selçuk Mezarlığı (Seljuk cemetery), with stele-like headstones of lichen-covered grey or red volcanic tuff with intricate web patterns and bands of Kufic lettering.

Over the centuries earthquakes, wind and water have set the stones at all angles, a striking sight with spectacular Nemrut Dağı as a backdrop. Most stones have a crow as sentinel, and tortoises patrol the ruins.

Read more: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/turkey/ahlat/introduction#ixzz4KzJqYW2c

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İshak Pasha Palace: the Ottoman jewel of eastern Turkey

Sitting just 30 km from the Iranian border, this Ottoman stalwart blends together the architectural design of the surrounding cultures (Ottoman, Persian, and Armenian) with fluidity and precision. The imposing structure carries with it memories of a time gone by, when pashas and their families ruled the mountains of Anatolia, and the Ottomans controlled from Iran to the shores of Spain, from the tip of the Arabian peninsula to the walls of Vienna.

Construction started on the palace in 1685 by Colak Abdi Pasha, the bey of Beyazit province, continued by his son İshak Pasha and completed by his grandson Mehmet Pasha, surviving over 300 hundred years through war, the fall of the Ottoman empire, infighting, and now, secured as a UNESCO work heritage site.

The site consists of multiple courtyards, a Mosque, the men’s quarters, baths, a ceremony hall, a bakery and kitchen, dungeons, a massive Harem, a soup kitchen, and an impressive central heating system.

Though the palace was abandoned after the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the essence and grandeur of what used to be can be found inside it’s intricate and ornate walls. But what makes the palace truly breathtaking is it’s location; surrounded on all sides by the Iranian border, the charming/rugged town of Doğubayazıt, Turkey, the hills in the shadows of the 5,000m Mt. Ararat, and the tomb of an Uratian King. A visit to the palace is not just about the site itself, but about the region that has been home to Urartu and Armenian Empires, was occupied by Persians, Assyrians, and Ottomans, and is home to the landing spot of Noah’s Ark.

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The main gate of the palace that leads to the first courtyard.

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The entrance into the Harem.
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One of the rooms used as a bakery.
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The first courtyard right inside the main gate.
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One can stand in awe of the architectural detail of this 300 year old structure.
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One of the archways that are found throughout the palace.
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The outer wall the surrounds the palace.

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The Mosque in the center of the palace.

 

 

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A view of the palace from the ancient tomb that sits above the site with the view of modern-day city Doğubayazıt, Turkey

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Destination: Dubrovnik – Walled Cities of the world:

Old City of Dubrovnik (Croatia)
Old City of Dubrovnik (Croatia) Description: Old City of Dubrovnik (Croatia) Date: 18/06/2005 Copyright: © UNESCO Author: Francesco Bandarin Source: Francesco Bandarin

Dubrovnik has been on my list of places to visit for a while now. This article got me excited to visit it and I started making plans. Learn more about it and other walled cities of the world.

Short History of Dubrovnik

The ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’, situated on the Dalmatian coast, became an important Mediterranean sea power from the 13th century onwards. Although severely damaged by an earthquake in 1667, Dubrovnik managed to preserve its beautiful Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque churches, monasteries, palaces and fountains. Damaged again in the 1990s by armed conflict, it is now the focus of a major restoration programme co-ordinated by UNESCO.

My favorite artifacts housed in Şanliurfa’s Archeology Museum

“The history of civilization began here!” Quite a claim, which makes visiting Sanliurfa’s Archeological Museum in Sanliurfa, Turkey all the more exciting.

Here are my favorite artifacts founds in this massive museum.

"The Urfa/Balıklıgöl Statue" is the oldest human-sized statue yet discovered. Dating from the 11th century BCE this statue of a man dropping his genitals is from the Neolithic period and seems to have been a part of a temple dedicated to a god of reproduction or eroticism. It is housed in Şanliurfa’s Archeology Museum in Şanliurfa, Turkey.
“The Urfa/Balıklıgöl Statue” is the oldest human-sized statue yet discovered. Dating from the 11th century BCE this statue of a man dropping his genitals is from the Neolithic period and seems to have been a part of a temple dedicated to a god of reproduction or eroticism. It is housed in Şanliurfa’s Archeology Museum in Şanliurfa, Turkey.

 

Statue of a military commander from the Roman Period. t is housed in Şanliurfa’s Archeology Museum in Şanliurfa, Turkey.
Statue of a military commander from the Roman Period. t is housed in Şanliurfa’s Archeology Museum in Şanliurfa, Turkey.

 

These large tablets comes from the 6th-5th century BCE. They contain the inscriptions from King Nabonidus, who was the last king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, reigning from 556–539 BC. These tablets were found in Harran -- near Sanliurfa, Turkey -- which was an Assyrian stronghold and also contained the temple of the moon-goddess, of whom Nabonidus' mother was a priestess. It is housed at the Sanliurfa Archeological Museum in Sanliurfa, Turkey.
These large tablets comes from the 6th-5th century BCE. They contain the inscriptions from King Nabonidus, who was the last king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, reigning from 556–539 BC. These tablets were found in Harran — near Sanliurfa, Turkey — which was an Assyrian stronghold and also contained the temple of the moon-goddess, of whom Nabonidus’ mother was a priestess. It is housed at the Sanliurfa Archeological Museum in Sanliurfa, Turkey.

 

This totem statue was found at the Gobekli Tepe site near Sanliurfa, Turkey. The Gobekli Tepe site is the oldest man-made place of worship yet discovered, dating back to 10,000 BCE. Found in the cradle of civilization, Gobekli Tepe has reshaped archeologist's understanding of religion and culture in the neolithic and pre-historic ages.
This totem statue was found at the Gobekli Tepe site near Sanliurfa, Turkey. The Gobekli Tepe site is the oldest man-made place of worship yet discovered, dating back to 10,000 BCE. Found in the cradle of civilization, Gobekli Tepe has reshaped archeologist’s understanding of religion and culture in the neolithic and pre-historic ages.

Coffee Tour: Prague and Budapest

I knew heading on this trip that Prague and Budapest were hipster-hangouts (Bohemia, after all, is in Prague). But little did I know that the third-wave of coffee had hit these cities hard, and the world is better for it.

The third wave is, in many ways, a reaction. It is just as much a reply to bad coffee as it is a movement toward good coffee. – Trish R. Skeie, Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters

Some observations:

  • English, it seems, is the language of third-wave coffee (obviously while also being the language of the world economy). Menus, items for sale, brewing methods etc. were all in English. It made my life easy.
  • The coffee shops (espresso bars, roasting labs, cafes etc.) are concentrated in the same areas, mostly.
  • The third-wave is fairly new in Prague and Budapest, but has a firm grasp. Most shops have started within the last 4 years.

Now, for the good part…pictures.

Prague

Our first stop…EMA Espresso Bar

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Second…Original Coffee

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Third stop…La Boheme Cafe

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Budapest

While we loved the coffee in Prague, Budapest had a lot more options. It seems like specialty coffee has deeper roots, or at least is spreading quicker, in Budapest.

Stop #1…Sock’s Coffee

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Stop #2…My Little Melbourne

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Stop #3…Tamp & Pull

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Stop #4…Kontakt

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Stop #5…Espresso Embassy

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Stop #6…Blue Bird Cafe

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We didn’t get to visit all the shops on our list…but that just gives us reason to go back! Until next time Prague, and Budapest…

Oh…and this sums up our coffee tour…

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Istanbul Coffee Festival: Recap

A couple weeks ago I shared how excited I was for the Istanbul Coffee Festival. Well, it has come and gone, and I must say, I was very impressed. As my wife and I walked up to Haydrapasa Station in Istanbul we were greeted with the sweet aroma of dozens of roasters and baristas working fervently to brew a cup that appeals to all senses.

Appealing to All Senses: There is something more to coffee than its caffeine stimulus and its action on the taste buds of the tongue and mouth. The sense of smell and the sense of sight play important roles. To get all the joy there is in a cup of coffee, it must look good and smell good, before one can pronounce its taste good. It must woo us through the nostrils with the wonderful aroma that constitutes much of the lure of coffee. – William H. Ukers (All About Coffee)

Unfortunately, I can’t share the aroma through this medium, but I can share the sights.

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Sanliurfa Haleplibahçe Mosaic Museum

The Haleplibahçe mosaic exhibit opened up in Sanliurfa, Turkey in June 2015 and now stands alongside the biggest museum and is a part of the biggest museum complex in Turkey. It has impressed all who’ve had the pleasure to visit this massive complex. Today, we will feature some of the best of the mosaic exhibit.

Orpheus
Orpheus playing his harp for the wild beasts, dates from about 194 CE and is the oldest of the Edessa/Urda mosaics. The artist’s name is even engraved in the piece, “Bar Saged.”

Opening at the beginning of June, the museum development covers a 200,000 square metre area set within the path of the dried up Karakoyun river bed and includes an “Archaeology Park”, ornamental gardens with fountains and a plaza in which there are two significant buildings. The main archaeological museum building encompasses 60,000 square metres over three floors, houses archaeological finds from across the region along with interactive displays, film and lecture theatres and activity centres. The building is thoroughly modern in concept, has full wheelchair access throughout and takes the visitor through the entire history of the Sanliurfa region starting with the Neolithic and Chalcolithic periods and progresses through Hittite, Babylonian, Persian, Ancient Greek, Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, Islamic and Ottoman periods.

Four apostles
In the center of this mosaic dating from CE 563 is a symbol representing the four apostles who wrote the four gospels found in the New Testament: Matthew is depicted as a lion; Mark is depicted as an ox; Luke is depicted as a man; and John is depicted as an eagle. Within the frame, a Syriac description reads, “this house was built in CE 563 during the days of Abbot Sam by Helpidus and Yuhannus.”
This African man leading a Zebra is a clear indication that Edessa (Sanliurfa) was connected to the massive trade routes that went through the middle east in the 3rd to 4th centuries CE.
This African man leading a Zebra is a clear indication that Edessa (Sanliurfa) was connected to the massive trade routes that went through the middle east in the 3rd to 4th centuries CE.
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Birds are favorite in the Haleplibahce exhibit.

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This shot is a view of a small portion of the exhibit, showing how big the exhibit really is.
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Another shot showing how massive the complex is.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This mosaic shows the highlights from the life of Achilles. The images included a depiction of Achilles being held by his nanny, his mother, Thetis, holding Achilles by the heal and dipping him in the river Styx in order to make him invulnerable, Achilles saying good-bye to his mother, the training Achilles received from the wise centaur Chiron, and a depiction of Thetis mourning as Achilles departs for the Trojan War.

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There can be no mistaking that this new mosaic museum at Haleplibahçe, (along with it’s counterpart museum which features items from Göbekli Tepe, Nevali Çori, and more…post coming soon) is at the center of the history, and the future, of Sanliurfa, Turkey.