Sunday 29 November 2015

The Ancient Kingdom of Lydia

Sardis was the capital of Lydia ruled by mighty King Croesus during the period 560-547 BC. The Lydians were cited as the first people to mint coins of gold and silver in Asia Minor, and it was Croesus who funded the construction of the great Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world. Although some claim that he was largely a legendary figure, his signature at the base of one of the columns from the Temple of Artemis, now displayed in the British Museum, is evidence that he was an historical king who ruled from the city of Sardis.  
In the Book of Revelations, the fifth of St. John's seven Messages was sent to the church in Sardis. 
It is home to the remains of the Temple of Artemis, a Roman Synagogue, and a baths-gymnasium complex revealing the city's former glory and wealth.
The Temple of Artemis in Sardis was the fourth largest Ionic temple in the world. Originally built in 300 BC by the ancient Greeks, the temple was renovated by the Romans in the C2nd AD. 
Much of what remains today is Roman, but these two mighty columns are Hellenistic

There is a small brick and rubble church located at the corner of the temple which was probably built in the C4th AD long after the Temple cult had been abandoned, and was used as a place of Christian worship for 300 years before being buried under a massive medieval landslide
This abandoned crane was brought to Sardis in 1911 by Prof Howard Crosby Butler of Princetown University and used for lifting and moving fallen architectural blocks during excavation at the temple. It was moved around the site on a narrow-gauge Decauville railroad track with a small locomotive. The crane was made by Dorman Long at Middlesborough in the north of England.
A short journey from the temple is Roman Sardis - this is Marble Street made up of 34 Byzantine shops many of which were owned by Jews. Recovered artifacts suggest a restaurant, taverna, a shop selling dyes and paints, and others selling glassware, and metal hardware. In some cases the presence of benches, latrine seats, and basins indicates that several may have been non-commercial, and were probably living spaces for the proprietors. Personal names and religious symbols inscribed on the walls reflect the cultural diversity of the residents.
 A Roman drainpipe
A surprising discovery was made here less than 50 years ago - a Jewish Synagogue. Excavations by both Harvard and Cornell Universities have unearthed the most impressive synagogue in the western diaspora yet found from antiquity. Over 80 Greek and 7 Hebrew inscriptions as well as numerous mosaic floors have been found. It has provided indisputable evidence of a continued presence of Jewish communities in Asia Minor, and their integration into Roman life, at a time when scholars previously assumed that Christianity had eclipsed Judaism.
Immediately adjacent to the synogogue is a large bath-gymnasium complex. Bathing was an important Roman tradition - something that they spread throughout their empire.  
A red inscription dedicates the space to the Roman Imperial family: Emperors Caracalla and Geta, and their mother Julia Domna; and even records that the hall was gilded by two ladies of consular rank: the sarcophagus of one of these ladies, Claudia Antonia Sabina, was found at Sardis and it is now in the Archaeological Museum, Istanbul

On this photo the remains of marble walls can clearly be seen which once covered the whole of the interior
The complex was thought to have been completed in the late C2nd or early C3rd AD - repaired and modified in succeeding centuries. The Synagogue was made out of a conversion of one of the marble halls in the bath-gymnasium complex, but all fell into ruin during the C7th AD 
I never cease to be amazed at the Romans and continually find myself in awe of the massive footprint that they have left behind for us to admire and appreciate across three continents. 
This post is for my second born granddaughter and she will know why!

Thursday 26 November 2015

My Masala Dabba

Twilight Taj Mahal
Tasting different spicy foods whilst travelling in Northern India and Kashmir earlier this year has encouraged me to be more experimental 
An Indian spice tin known as a Masala Dabba is a staple in most Indian homes. Cooking is so much easier when all the spices you need are close to hand rather than tucked away in the back of a cupboard, often forgotten, and turning stale.
A good Masala Dabba is made of quality stainless steel and has an inner transparent sealing lid in addition to the air tight outer lid to keep the spices fresh.

They have seven little bowls which are filled with favourite spices.
The best way to obtain spices for a Masala Dabba is to visit a an Indian shop where the spices are often cheaper and fresher than those purchased in small jars from the supermarkets. However, because I visited Istanbul's Ottoman era Spice Bazaar my Masala Dabba has been filled with spices purchased there.
Rooftops Istanbul

As I selected the spices I wanted in the bazaar, they were vacum packed for transporting home, and accompanied by a sample of turkish delight to taste - pompegranite with hazel nut, pistachio, mixed nuts, rose, orange and creme de menthe...... 
Spices to make curry apart from the Sumac - a spice used in Middle Eastern cuisine to enhance humous, meze, sprinkle on fish, chicken, raw onions, and in salad dressings. It can be used as a substute in any dish which uses lemon juice.

Monday 23 November 2015

Exeter Cathedral

The carved bosses and corbels in Exeter Cathedral are amongst the finest examples of English Decorated Gothic architecture, a form of architecture that flourished in England for 100 years from 1270. The largest boss weighs in at over two tons; each one is different and decorated with either human figures, biblical stories, or naturalistic forms. The replica boss shown above gives a unique opportunity to view one of them close up and a chance to appreciate the intricate detail. Dated 1300, it shows a knight and three dragons signifying the Christian soul trampling on the world, the flesh, and the devil

 Most of the corbels along the nave show a naturalistic style or have a single figure - each one is different
On the north wall of the north transept is a large, blue faced astronomical clock, donated by Bishop Peter Courtenay towards the end of the C15th. A fleur-de-lys represents the sun's cycles around a 24 hour dial, with noon at the top and midnight at the bottom. The moon's phases are shown and the day of the lunar month can be read from the inner ring. The golden globe in the centre represents the earth.
Inside the mechanism are ropes which used to be greased by fat. The fat attracted mice who ran up and down the clock ropes - hence the nursey rhymn 'Hickory Dickory Dock' is thought to have been based on this clock.
The Pulpit was designed in 1876 by George Gilbert Scott, and shows the martyrdoms of St. Alban, St. Boniface and the Victorian missionary Bishop John Coleridge Patteson
A pair of finely wrought golden gates lead into the
quire (choir)
Most of the present Cathedral was constructed 1270 - 1342
However the two towers date from an earlier Norman Cathedral which was demolished to make way for the present building.
one of the two stout Norman towers
The impressive light and airey interior has the longest Gothic ceiling in the world
The West window sparkles like a jewel. It was designed by William Peckitt of York (1731-95) arguably the most important glass designer of the C18th

 The organ is an historical instrument of international significance, but is far from being a museum piece. It is a working instrument used day in and day out in the way it was intended to by its creator John Loosemore in 1665.

The properties ajacent to the Cathedral on the northern side in Cathedral Close are mostly over 500 years old. Many, like the one above, belong to the Cathedral. This one is entered via an impressive doorway.
On this sunny, late November weekend, a typical 'German Style' Christmas Market was being held on the Cathedral green with stalls from all over the Continent
Rather fancifully, Mol's is said to have been the haunt of Elizabethan seafarers Sir Francis Drake and Sir Walter Raleigh, where they met to discuss their victory over the Armada. It was built in 1528 to house the Cathedral Annuellars. The facade seen here was added in 1596. Annuellars were priests who attended to the last wishes of benefactors to the Cathedral.
This Italian chocolate stall at the Christmas Market caught my eye, but I averted my gaze and walked on 

Spent the weekend in the city of Exeter, Devon, but next time it will be back to travels from Turkey