Posted by: lukelavan | May 11, 2010

Study Tour: Ancient Cities of SW Turkey April 2010

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The study tour of Turkey organised by Luke Lavan and Peter Talloen was an unforgettable adventure that I would recommend to anybody. To experience the fine blend of western and eastern cultures that exists in Turkey was an eye-opening experience that I will cherish for years to come. The lectures and guided tours that we received were well-planned and enriching. This study tour has renewed my enthusiasm for archaeology and has made me keener to pursue a career within an archaeological domain. Studying archaeological sites from a book can never emulate the thrill of seeing the ancient world with one’s own eyes.               

Marcus Dean (CLAS & Spanish)

My favourite site was Sagalassos.  The approach was very dramatic, with steep and twisty roads.  We were fortunate to enjoy tea and cakes on arrival, which was particularly welcome after a long journey of anticipation.  We then enjoyed the special privilege of having the entire site to ourselves.  The mountain setting was superb, and there were particularly dramatic views from the theatre.  The fact that both Luke and Peter had excavated on the site gave a special level of detail and poignancy to their commentary. Being early evening, and quite high up, the air was pleasantly cool, and the evening light beautifully soft. Sagalassos also provided the only example of a working nymphaeum complete with water.  Seeing this brought home the luxury of clean water and helped reconstruct the other examples which were now empty, dusty stone basins.

There were many other highlights, such as the beautiful white and turquoise waterfalls at Hierapolis, and the excavated houses at Ephesus, where in some cases several layers of decorative schemes could be seen.  The Hotel Medusa was an excellent base, and the vegetarian cuisine was some of the best food I have tasted anywhere, and of a quality which would put many London restaurants to shame.  An evening lecture there after a swim in the Meditteranean sea enabled us to make sense of the different site plans. Peter was a fresh, knowledgeable, good-humoured and enthusiastic guide, and very different to how I imagined a research associate. 

Toby Huitson (School of History)

There were many things that I enjoyed about this trip. The great value for money meant that I was afforded an opportunity to experience another culture across two time periods: then and now which I otherwise would not have had. Some of the most thrilling sites we visited were those which required a lot of physical effort to get to. They were often far from any main track and were nestled on the side of a mountain affording us the same astonishing views that would have been available in ancient times. The remoteness of these places allowed me a real understanding of all aspects of the geography of the ancient town. I found this trip invaluable in many ways. I wished for an excursion that set my studies in context and it did just that and more. It allowed me to visit the shops, walk the colonnaded streets, and peer into the tombs which I had spent many months looking at in text books. It brought my studies to life in a whole new way. But it also enabled me to meet a new group of interesting people, of all ages, who enjoyed the same area of study as me.                  

Leaphia Darko (CLAS and English Literature)

The Turkey trip was an absolute eye-opener and showcase to the complexity and splendour of the Classical World, something which I was unaware could have spread so comprehensively to Turkey. I have always had a desire to travel to this country, a place only recently in the sights of the tourist masses. However, for the majority of the tour, we avoided the large highways, sticking to routes used mainly by the local people; in so doing, I got a taste of the real Turkey, and the sights that attracted people there in the first place, particularly the impressive landscapes. I knew very little of Hellenistic and Roman history before the trip, but learned information that will stay with me, partly helped by being in the places where these cultures and societies played out. More importantly, having two incredibly knowledgeable people leading our visits to the sites, Luke and Peter, who are utterly devoted and passionate about their subject, ensured an unforgettable six days.               

Robert Weber (History and Spanish)

The trip to South-West Turkey in April 2010 has been an extremely worthwhile experience. Being a history student, my knowledge of Hellenistic archaeology was limited before I went to Turkey, yet being a part of this experience has inspired me to learn more. Some free time at Ephesus led to a small group of us being at the theatre at the same time as a group of young Turkish children were rehearsing a traditional dance routine. To be able to be seated right at the top and still see and hear clearly what they were doing was an incredible experience, and to hear the applause of the fifteen or twenty spectators echo around the theatre meant we had a far greater appreciation for what it might have been like thousands of years ago at its full capacity of 25,000.                      

Kerrie Body (History)

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