Turkey and Greece: Spring 2010

Continuing our commitment to a strong international component to our teaching philosophy, the department offered another study abroad course (CLAS 390) to explore the monuments, sites and cultures of Turkey, both ancient and modern.  As usual, the course was offered in conjunction with the Department of Anthropology to complement their archaeology program and in total twenty-four students and five faculty, including for the first time two graduate students, departed from Toronto for a three week tour of the Western coast of Turkey, and select sites in Greece.

After landing in Istanbul, the students were treated to the full spectrum of cultures one can experience for several days.  The Hittites, the Persians, the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Ottomans and modern Turks were all represented in the various monuments and materials found throughout the city and its museum.  Highlights were the famed Hagia Sophia, the hippodrome and Topkapi palace.  From Istanbul the group headed south along the Ionian coast to visit the many cities that played a major role in Mediterranean history for millennia.  Perhaps the most anticipated stop was at the fabled city of Troy – city of the Trojan War and locale for one of the seminal works of classical literature, Homer’s Iliad.  Further south we continued to such cities as Pergamon, with its dramatic vistas, Ephesus, with its sprawling ruins and Bodrum, the ancient city of Halikarnassos.  These and other sites were famous in antiquity, perhaps most famous as cities addressed by St. Paul in his letters, but also for their many monuments – The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus and the Mausoleum at Halikarnossos were two of the seven wonders of the ancient world.

From Bodrum we drove south to catch a ferry to the island of Rhodes, where we saw where the famous Colossus would have been, bringing the total of ancient wonders seen to three.  We explored the ancient site of Lindos and then viewed the ancient castle of the Knights Hospitaller.  Again we explored the history and culture of the land from ancient through medieval times.  We then took an overnight ferry to Athens and finished our tour in this exemplary European city, visiting the Acropolis, the National Museum and even getting a “behind the scenes” tour of the Athenian Agora.  All involved agreed that this was superlative experience that allowed the students to get “beyond the classroom” and see ancient ruins in a much better state of preservation than normal.  The food, the people and the landscape of Turkey also allowed the students to immerse themselves in a culture very different from our own.  We can’t wait for the next trip! Go see the slide show for pictures of our adventure.