The colossal stone heads at Nemrut Dağ, with their distinctive array of crowns and caps, are among the most iconic images of Turkey. Many guidebooks and tour agencies stress the importance of visiting this monument – sometimes referred to as the Throne of the Gods – at either sunrise or sunset to appreciate fully the spectacular illumination and reflection of the sun’s rays on the sculptures and tumulus. Others specifically advise against visiting at these times on the grounds that inevitably you will share this impressive event with a large crowd of other spectators, thereby spoiling the sense of majestic isolation.
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.
Chi (ch) is the first letter of Christos (Χριστός), Greek for “anointed”.
Theta (th) is the first letter of Theou (Θεοῦ), Greek for “God’s”, the genitive case of Θεóς, Theos, Greek for “God”.
Upsilon (y) is the first letter of (h)uios (Υἱός), Greek for “Son”.
Sigma (s) is the first letter of sōtēr (Σωτήρ), Greek for “Savior”.
Legend and history surrounding the use of Ichthus and the fish symbol in early christianity abounds; however we know that there is definite historical usage, since Augustine explains it’s meaning in his “City of God”, and because it is found in ancient sites like Ephesus, in modern day Izmir Province, Turkey.
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:
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.
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).
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.
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.