An Acropolis in Metropolis

Metropolis, found in modern-day Torbalı, Turkey, was a Greco-Roman city that was situated between two of the great cities of antiquity, Ephesus and Smyrna. The city possibly dates back to the Bronze Age since there are Hittite hieroglyphics that date around that time. Though the city was founded in the 8th century B.C.E. it did not flourish until the Hellenistic period. The city at some point or another was under the control of the Pontic King Mithridates VI, but then spent most of the first-century B.C.E. onward under Roman control.
temple to the greek god Ares, the god of war, lies somewhere within the defense walls of the city on the acropolis. The acropolis was surrounded by defense walls and sat above the hellenistic theater and Roman baths that can be seen today.
This is one of three altars dedicated to Ceasar Augustus are found in the Theater on the site of the ancient city of Metropolis.
This is one of three altars dedicated to Ceasar Augustus are found in the Theater on the site of the ancient city of Metropolis.
The theater that holds three altars dedicated to Augustus found in Metropolis
The theater that holds three altars dedicated to Augustus found in Metropolis

‘be cheerful, enjoy your life’ – says one 2,400 year-old mosaic

According to archeologist Demet Kara at Hatay Archeology Museum, the mosaic is a part of ancient Greek-Roman city of Antioch and has an Ancient Greek inscription saying ‘Be cheerful, enjoy your life.’

The ancient city of Antioch was established by Seleucus I Nicator -who is one of Alexander the Great’s generals- in the 4th century BCE. It is known to be the first place where the followers of Jesus were referred to as Christians.

 

Smyrna: An Introduction

1. There are actually two Smyrnas, named Old Smyrna (founded in 11th century BC) and New Smyrna (reestablished by Alexander — at least, it was his idea, of course — in 4th century BC), respectively (they worked hard on the names).

2. Homer (author of The Iliad and The Odyssey) was born in Smyrna! (well, maybe. 6 other cities lay claim to the ancient poet, but many think Smyrna is his likely hometown)

3. “New Smyrna” became part of the Roman Empire around 195 BC, and more than likely had a significant Jewish population. Setting the cultural groundwork for the Gospel to spread through the activity of the Apostle Paul

4. Smyrna is one of the seven churches addressed in the beginning chapters of the book of Revelation. The church more than likely was planted through the ministry based in Ephesus. It seems that when John wrote to them the church was experiencing persecution, but the Apostle John reminds them of the promise of the resurrection and that they will not be affected by the second death

“‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10 Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. 11 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.”

5. Polycarp (AD 69-155) was the Bishop of Smyrna until he was burned at the stake and stabbed when the fire didn’t finish the job. Multiple church fathers (Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Jerome) all make reference to Polykarp being a disciple of the Apostle John, and even being ordained by John as Bishop of Smyrna.

6. Polycarp seemed to have read the letter from John and taken heed of it throughout his life. He was “faithful unto death.” This is evidenced by the reply he gave those who were to burn him at the stake:

“For eighty and six years I have served him, and he has done me no wrong. How then can I blaspheme my King who saved me? You threaten with the fire that burns for a hour and then is quenched; for you do not know of the fire of the judgment to come, and the fire of the eternal punishment, reserved for the ungodly. But why are you delaying? Bring what you will!”

7. Because Polycarp had a direct relationship with an Apostle (John), his understanding and teaching of scripture and doctrine was highly regarded throughout the Christian church and he is credited with helping the church on a path of orthodoxy when heretics like Marcion and the Gnostic Valentinus were running rappant.

8. Polycarp wrote his “Letter to the Philippians” while Bishop of Smyrna. This letter is of utmost importance, not just for the sound doctrine and encouragement found within, but because Polycarp makes many references to New Testament books which helps in the field of textual criticism and in understanding canonization of the New Testament.

“Stand fast, therefore, in this conduct and follow the example of the Lord, ‘firm and unchangeable in faith, lovers of the brotherhood, loving each other, united in truth,’ helping each other with the mildness of the Lord, despising no man” (Polycarp, Letter to the Philippians).

9. Smyrna is thought to be the hometown of the church father Irenaeus. Tradition states that Irenaeus heard Polycarp speak when he was a young man. Irenaeus is also thought to have grown up in a Christian home, perhaps the first church father to have come to faith as a child.

10. Smyrna got rocked by a massive earthquake in 178 AD and was rebuilt by Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius (who was likely partly responsible for the martyrdoms of Polycarp and Irenaeus).

|| Old Smyrna ||

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Ancient walls and foundations with modern Izmir, Turkey in the background
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“Block out the sun”
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“Drainage system no more”
"History in the distance"
“History in the distance”
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“Through the pillars”
Broken pieces remind us that no city lasts forever
Broken pieces remind us that no city lasts forever

|| New Smyrna ||

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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.

Göbekli Tepe

Here is an article I wrote for Ancient Encyclopedia on GOBEKLI TEPE which is the oldest man-made place of worship yet discovered, dating back to 10,000 BCE.

“Göbekli Tepe” (“Hill with a Navel”, or “Potbelly Hill”) is found approximately 16 km (10 miles) northeast of Şanlıurfa, an ancient city in southeastern Turkey once named “Edessa” and known as “the City of the Prophets”. While this nearby city has a rich religious history, just how far back religion stretched in this region was unknown until the discovery of “Göbekli Tepe”

Read the rest of the definition here…

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