Tuesday January 22 , 2008


Today we left the hotel and visited the Acropolis at Pergamon( Bergama ).  There we saw the Temple of Athena and the site of the Altar of Zeus (both of which are merely ruins, the Altar of Zeus now resides in Germany), the theater (which was able to hold up to 10,000 people), and the Temple of Trajan, an emperor to whom the citizens worshipped as a half-God, because this would keep taxes low and the Emperor happy.  The city was able to supply water by building pools every 100m or so, and once they reached an altitude level with the city they began to run the water through pipes underground.  This created pressure that allowed the water to continue flowing up the hill and to the city.  After a certain part of the hill, they had to use marble blocks to reinforce the clay pipes so they would not burst from the pressure.  How clever of them.  From here we drove to Çanakkale, stopping en route for lunch at a gas station. But don’t worry, we had delicious toast, which was like grilled cheese and you could opt for tomato, sausage, ketchup and mayonnaise on the sandwich as well.  Before visiting Troy, we stopped to see how olive oil is made.  It is quite an interesting process. They wait until the olives have turned a purplish-black color, and when they are ready, beat them from the trees with sticks.  However, it is better if you can hand-pick the olives, but this is not very practical today.  Once the olives have been harvested, they go into a machine that grinds them into mash.  From here they put the olive paste onto a machine that rises and compacts the mash into a pancake.  This process takes about 45 minutes, and the liquid (water and oil) runs from the mushy pancake into pipes that gather into large tanks.  In about one hour, the oil will separate from the water (the oil rises and the water sinks) because the oil is more buoyant that the water.  After this we continued to drive, drive, drive, but when we arrived we visited the ancient city of TROY!!!!!!! It was awesome to see! There are many layers, each layer was a city from a different time period, dating back to over 2,000BC.  Homer’s Troy, referred to in the Odyssey, is located somewhere in the middle, but archaeologists are not certain which layer Homer is referring to.  Many of the artifacts from the middle layers, however, are badly damaged because Schliemman, the man who discovered and first began to excavate the city in the late 19th century, had very poor excavation skills (AKA he kind of didn’t really know what he was doing, he was just excited to be doing it) and damaged many of these middle layers.  He excavated by digging a large trench through the center of the mound (AKA the city) that reached the bottom layer, and discarded much of what he found in the middle layers because he assumed  Homer’s Troy would be at the bottom (and this was the Troy he was most keen on finding).  Troy is located on the Çanakkale passage, or the ancient Dardanel passage, which is the only water passage linking the Aegean Sea with the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea.  Whoever controlled this passage in ancient times controlled the trading routes (and essentially the seas), and this is why the Trojan War was fought (although it is much more romantic to think it was because of Helen). All in all, it was another fun-filled, action-packed day, and we learned a lot!

Katie Kavorkian