First of all today, a bit about ordinary life around us: gas prices hover around $4/liter, putting the cost at close to $10/gallon. Djenk told us Turkey and Norway compete almost daily for the highest gas price in the world, seemingly taking turns for the “honor”. Vehicles on the road are numerous, regardless the cost, and come in all types including lots of cars (all smaller than ours in the US), trucks, buses, lots and lots of small motorcycles, and the occasional horse-drawn or man-powered cart. Traffic seems to be more of a competition than a means to get somewhere; drivers seem completely unafraid and go swerving and swooshing down the street. We are glad to be in the hands of Kenon, our bus-driver, who maneuvers the bus into remarkably small spaces and through dense and busy streets.
While we drove from Izmir (ancient Smyrna, BTW — if you’re curious about the history of Izmir/Smyrna, wikipedia can be helpful: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C4%B0zmir) to Sardis this a.m., Djenk gave us a whirlwind history lesson. Most memorable for me was the fact that archaeologists recently unearthed a church in southern Turkey that dates back to 9000 B.C.! (Comparably, the Egyptians were building their temples and religious statues around 3000 B.C.) It was generally believed that humans weren’t in communities large enough nor united enough to have a common worship place, but this temple seems to suggest otherwise.
a remarkable (restored) Roman bath house complete with a WC (what we would call a bathroom in the US): and the ruins of a very large (the largest in the world outside of Israel) Jewish synagogue where Jeff instructed us from Revelation 2-3 on the state of the church at Sardis in New Testament times: After lunch in a Turkish diner (specializing in unique and tasty flat pita”pizzas” topped with meat, cheese and various relishes), we briefly visited Philidelphia, another of the Revelation churches before heading toward the Tri-City area of Laodicea, Colossae, and Hierapolis. We spent the balance of our afternoon in the recently (since 2003) excavated city of Laodicea, a cross-roads in the Roman world; one of those famed Roman roads runs down the middle of the excavations:
Having already seen a temple to a pagan god, a synagogue and a Christian church, we were now introduced to an Imperial temple constructed to honor a Roman leader as well as the ruins of a large awe-inspiring theater:
Our full, fantastic day ended at the Lycus River Thermal Spa and Hotel; after exploring the thermal pool, enjoying a tremendous buffet dinner, and hearing a stimulating presentation on the seventh Revelation church at Laodicea, we all happily headed for our beds.