Presence of the Past

by Janine C. Grant

In a city that constantly feels like it is getting newer by the day, it is important to get away to the old.  It is important to be confronted with history in its physical form; to survey the landscape and imagine a piece of you existing thousands of years before.  To take the time to appreciate the importance of the past—all the moments, be they mundane—that has lead you to your current state, alive.

Perhaps I am being over sentimental, dramatic, or just a plain anthropology nerd but whenever I go to see ruins I get this tingle running through my body.  My hands long to touch the stone, my fingers to trace the patterns.  I cannot help but imagine a hand thousands of years earlier doing the same.

I had this same feeling this summer when I visited Patara, an archaeological site in the present day village of Ovagelemis, Turkey. Patara is one of the oldest cities of Lycia dating back in Hittite texts to the 13th Century BC.  Its beachside access and ideal sailing conditions helped to maintain its importance throughout the years.  A few claims to fame include the birthplace of Saint Nicholas and the stop over site of Paul the Apostle, who is noted to have visited on one of his journeys to Rome.

Below are a few images of the ruins:

Entering the archeological site. The beach, located a 5 minute drive and
5 minute walk away from the entrance, has served for millions of years as one of the rare nesting sites of the Mediterranean loggerhead sea turtles.

Lycian sarcophagi were scattered all around the area.

Unearthed ancient stones filled the open landscape in rows and rows

Some walls remained intact

Stages of restoration were cornered off by string.

The theatre, located at the southernmost end of the city, was rebuilt
in 147 AD after an earthquake.

Snapshot from atop the theatre looking out at the landscape
surrounding the site.

This photo is taken within one of the tunnels leading out of the top of the theatre.

Two close up shots of patterns that were carved into the stones in the area.

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