Dead Diggers and long-haired Achaeans
My flight home for Xmas took me over Turkey so I opted to stop in and take a tour of Gallipoli and Troy. Gallipoli is important to Aussies because the Turks buried a lot of our lads there in WWI. Troy is important to me because Homer wrote a cool story about burying some Trojans there.
Gallipoli was ok but it was a lot like visiting 30 cemeteries full of people you don’t know, spread over a large area without any handy diagrams to show you what they were trying to achieve. I was quite taken aback at how accommodating and warm the Turks are in welcoming visitors from those countries that previously came to kill them. I couldn’t figure out whether they’re a naturally forgiving people, they genuinely value all lives lost in battle, or they just get excited by the tourism dollars that we bring. Ataturk, the general/president of the time, said “… your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well”. Wow. A Turkish bosom sounds like a fine resting place.
Troy surprised me in that it quite clearly did exist. I was expecting to find a few vague brick outlines in the middle of a desert, but instead I found a spread-out city, huge walls up to 12 metres tall, and evidence of rebuilding in at least 7 different layers. The only reason they found Troy is because a greedy German was looking for Priam’s gold, but apparently we still haven’t found it. The weirdest thing was finding clay brick walls which those first archeologists had built to help themselves understand the shape and layout of some of the original buildings. I can just imagine a bunch of Harrison Ford-scientist types spending hours labouring in the sun building traditional brick walls.