Saturday, April 28, 2012

Warmed Toilet Seats, Old Coins and Cheaters...

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If you've not been to Ephesus, Turkey, it is one spot you need to experience.  Started as a city in 550BC by the Greeks and then dominated by the Romans, it is the largest active excavation in the world.  It is compactt therefore, easier to experience.  We had been there in the early 1990's and at that point our guide told us that at one time the city had 330,000 inhabitants the majority of which were slaves.  On this visit we were told 400,000.  Maybe they adjusted the number, who knows.  On both of our trips we had highly educated guides.  On the first trip our guide was a professor of history and this time our guide was an engineer.  Yes, we believed them because of the quality of the tours we booked.  Anyway, this time we had friends with us who hadn't been. We get out of the bus and the heavens open.  What should have been an hour to an hour and a half  was 30minutes. Here's some of what my friends missed:  The Greeks and Romans were ingenious and sneaky engineers.  They built cisterns on the tops of the hills to catch rain water.  It then flowed downhill to provide running water. At right there is a picture of the latrines.  The seats were marble and therefore, cold in the winter.  So, the slave owners would send their slaves down to the latrines and have them sit on the marble to warm it up.  When it was warm, here came the owner.  At their feet was running water for them to clean themselves.  Read more...

latrines ephesus
There was also a beautiful library.  The sneaky engineers dug a tunnel from the library under the bath houses which then led directly to...the houses of prostitution.  I guess they thought their wives wouldn't know anything about this.  Right.  If you go to Pompeii, you can see penises carved in the roads to show the sailors and merchants where the houses of prostitution are and then once you get there, there are actually murals outside the rooms depicting what sex act the prostitute specialized in.
Our guide told us that when we left the back entrance of Ephesus that we should be prepared for hawkers who would particularly try to sell us 'antique' coins.  Now I like to have fun with these guys.  It has got to be a tough job to stand there all day and try to swindle people.  But, hey, it's a few lira.  So a guy comes up to me, it's one of those, pssst, want to buy an antique coin?  Very very old.  So I looked at him and said, pssst, I've got a very old coin I'd like to sell you.  A friend of his who is nearby cracks up laughing.  I said that I had a 1786 George Washington penny that was worth $5 million US and I'd sell it to him for 500 lira.  His friend is practically rolling on the ground.  I wish I could describe the look on the guy's face.  Maybe I shouldn't try to engage them but for me it's fun and they laugh, more often than not. 
Now on to Olympia, Greece,  home of the Olympics.  Once you've seen Ephesus it kind of puts a damper on other sites with multitudes of ruins.  What was interesting here is that at the entrance to Olympic Stadium, there had been a corridor of statues.  These statues were of Zeus but below the statue they were identified as cheaters.  The inscription not only listed their name, but their offense and their fine.  (Huh.  I know of quite a few athletes that could use this treatment.)
All of this looking at ruins reminded me of my first trip to the Louvre in Paris.  I'd say it was 1978 or so. I had taken some high school students on an "if it's Tuesday it must be Belgium" type trip.  When returning, I showed some folks(let's just leave them nameless) some of the pics from the Louvre, particularly the Venus De Milo. Honest to heaven one person asked me, "Why did they always make those sculptures with either no arms or no legs?"  When were were looking at the statues at Ephesus, I did say to my guide that in Egypt, so many of the reliefs in the temples had many naked body parts gouged out by early Christians.  The Greeks and Romans were very fond of naked bodies.  I noticed that so many of the female statues seemed to have their nipples off. Was this also a form of Christian defacing?  No, she said.  It's a matter that when a statue falls, it usually falls on it's face and the breasts land first.  OK.  I thought it was a good question...
I just liked this guy's face:

1 comment:

  1. Oh! That is really a big blunder if someone deceiving others regarding to the old coins, Just ignore the cheaters.