Monday, September 24, 2012

Travelling Through Millennia During A Vacation

I walked through the main gates of Perga, one of the greatest cities of Greek, and eventually Roman culture. The first things I saw were huge stone walls surrounding the city, with a gap that served as the main entrance, where they grabbed the horses of visitors to be held waiting for their masters till the visit is over, which was needless for me since I didn’t have a horse or anything in kind.
Surprisingly enough, they didn’t check me unlike they did for the others. Neither did they care while I entered the city grounds. At once, I saw people milling around in their customary one piece clothes. Men in their white garbs, some with quality looking sashes around their belts, and some other with ropes instead of sashes; women with their earthen jewelries and accessories around their necks and on their arms; and kids running around in groups, laughing and playing together.
Main entrance of the city.
Then along a colonnaded main street, there were shops with their goods for sale, and people trading, or checking the items in them. Soldiers walking around in their watch, standing before important buildings, especially in front of a keep closer to the entrance, which I suspected to be some kind of governmental one. I noticed a waterway running through the entire city with its sparkling water coming from the hill which the city nestled on, and running toward the main entrance. It was easy to realize that it was the main life source of that city, which eventually I proved to be right, because when the water dried, the people of this magnificent city would move along, and leave the place to rot and die.
When this thought came to life in my mind, all the illusion disappeared and I saw the city as it is now, after seven millennia of its birth: Rubbles, stones, and remnants of the colonnaded main street, shops, mosaic tiles of the public baths, and the most impressively, the underground watering system that surrounds the entire city, all built between around 1200 BC and 600 BC!
Remnants of the shops
Well, yes, it’s all in ruins now, of course. But when you start walking along the main street and alleys of the ancient city Perga, which is now within the city limits of Antalya, Turkey, you almost see all the life went on and went away in the place. Trust me, it creates an impression almost like you would have while standing in ancient Jerusalem.
This is the second time I visit this fascinating city, but frankly, I hadn’t recognized the depth of cultural sophistication you can see here in this city, due to my young age I guess.

In the twelfth century BC, there was a large wave of Greek migration from northern Anatolia to the Mediterranean coast. Many settled in the area immediately east of the area of modern-day Antalya, which came to be known as Pamphylia, meaning “land of all tribes”. Four great cities eventually rose to prominence in the area including Perga.
Perga was founded around 1000 BC and is nearly 20 kilometres (12 mi) inland. It was sited inland as a defensive measure in order to avoid the pirate bands that terrorized this stretch of the Mediterranean. However the nearby Kestros (Aksu) River enabled the town to benefit from the advantages of the sea as if it were a coastal city.
Underground water layout in an ancient city
shocks the viewer with its sophistication.
Water grid covers all around a city
which seems to be huge to its age.

Water "pipes" made of stone extend
from one side of colonnaded main street to the other
In 546 BC, the Achaemenid Persians defeated the local powers and gained control of the region. In 333 BC, the armies of Alexander the Great arrived in Perga during his war of conquest against the Persians. The citizens of Perga sent out guides to lead his army into the city.
Alexander's was followed by the Diadochi empire of the Seleucids. Perga's most celebrated ancient inhabitant, the mathematician Apollonius (c.262 BC – c.190 BC), lived and worked there. Apollonius wrote a series of eight books describing a family of curves known as conic sections, comprising the circle, ellipse, parabola, and hyperbola.
A sight of Agora

Another sight of Agora

A detail shot from the columns surrounding Agora
Roman rule began in 188 BC, and most of the surviving ruins today date from this period.
In 46 A.D., according to the Acts of the Apostles, St. Paul journeyed to Perga, from there continued on to Antiocheia in Pisidia, then returned to Perga where he delivered a sermon. Then he left the city and went to Attaleia.
From the beginning of the Imperial era, work projects were carried out in Perga, and in the second and third centuries A.D. it grew into one of the most beautiful cities, not just in Pamphylia, but in all of Anatolia.
In the first half of the fourth century, during the reign of Constantine the Great (324-337), Perga became an important centre of Christianity after it had become the official religion of the Roman Empire. The city retained its status as a Christian centre in the fifth and sixth centuries.
Due to frequent rebellions and raids, the citizens retreated inside the city walls, able to defend themselves only from within the acropolis. Perga lost its remaining power in the wake of the mid-seventh century Arab raids. Then some residents of the city migrated to Antalya.
After the collapse of the Roman Empire, Perga remained inhabited until Seljuk times, before being gradually abandoned.

Ecclesiastical history

The detail level in the stonemasonry is absolutely fascinating.
St. Paul the Apostle and his companion St. Barnabas, twice visited Perga as recorded in the biblical book, the Acts of the Apostles, during their first missionary journey, where they “preached the word” before heading for and sailing from Attalia (modern-day Antalya city), 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) to the southwest, to Antioch.
Perge remained a Roman Catholic titular metropolitan see in the former Roman province of Pamphylia Secunda. Paul and Barnabas came to Perge during their first missionary journey, but probably stayed there only a short time, and do not seem to have preached there; it was there that John Mark left Paul to return to Jerusalem. On his return from Pisidia Paul preached at Perge.
The remnants of an archgate at the main entrance.
The Greek Notitiae episcopatuum mentions the city as metropolis of Pamphylia Secunda until the thirteenth century. Le Quien gives 11 bishops: Epidaurus, present at the Council of Ancyra (modern Ankara) in 312; Callicles at the First Council of Nicæa in 325; Berenianus, at Constantinople (426); Epiphanius at the Second Council of Ephesus (449), at the First Council of Chalcedon (451), and a signatory on the letter from the bishops of the province to Emperor Leo (458); Hilarianus, at the First Council of Constantinople in 536; Eulogius, at the Second Council of Constantinople in 553; Apergius, condemned as a Monothelite at the Third Council of Constantinople in 680; John, at the Trullan council in 692; Sisinnius Pastillas about 754, Constans, at the Council of Nicæa (787); John, at the Fourth Council of Constantinople in 869–70.

A fallen column head somewhere near the colonnaded street.


Perga is today an archaeological site and a major tourist attraction. Ancient Perge, one of the chief cities of Pamphylia, was situated between the Rivers Catarrhactes (Duden sou) and Cestrus (Ak sou), 60 stadia (about 11.1 kilometres (6.9 mi)) from the mouth of the latter; the site is in the modern Turkish village of Murtana on the Suridjik sou, a tributary of the Cestrus, formerly in the Ottoman vilayet of Koniah. Its ruins include a theatre, a palæstra, a temple of Artemis and two churches. The very famous temple of Artemis was located outside the town.

Sources:, local sources

A walled section of colonnaded street.

The vein details of a marble column near baths.
The column heads from colonnaded street.

I couldn't understand what this building was before,
but the remains stand near colonnaded street
across the Agora.

Again, a column detail from colonnaded street.
Main water channel runs through the city parallel to the colonnaded street and the shops, from the hills that the city leans on to the main entrance.

Monday, September 3, 2012

GUTGAA - Meet and Greet


Q: Where do you write?
A: I write in my study. Sometimes I go to a favorite coffee-shop to work outdoors, with a laptop under my arm, sipping some cappuccino or something.

Q: Quick. Go to your writing space, sit down and look to your left. What is the first thing you see?
A: Three motivational pictures of my dream office with some reminder phrases on them. If you’d like to know what they are, let me share with you: “Make Feel Your Presence; Stick to Your Argument; Keep Your Clarity; Make an Impact; Create Influence; Be Proactive!”

Q: Favorite time to write?
A: It varies. However, I can concentrate much better at nights.

Q: Drink of choice while writing?
A: Well, mostly strong coffee, and sometimes herbal tea.

Q: When writing , do you listen to music or do you need complete silence?
A: It depends on my mood actually. But mostly I listen to rock or new age music.

Q: What was your inspiration for your latest manuscript and where did you find it?
A: Latest or earliest, I always get my inspiration from two sources: The real life (real experiences) and dreams I have while asleep.

Q: What's your most valuable writing tip?
A: Well, after all these years spent by translating or writing hundreds of books, I acquired many skills and various habits about writing. Since my approach in translating is to rewrite a book in another language, instead of translating it phrase by phrase, I see translating work as writing, too. So I can say the most important parts of writing, after the inspiration, are layouts (I call them writing maps), and of course, discipline. Anyway, you can’t be an artist without discipline, and this is what I see the new enthusiasts lack most.

Q: After so many books translated or written, you must be a well established writer already. So why do you still need an agent?
A: Well, that would be a rightful question. However, most publishers in my country follows a system different than how it’s done in Europe or The US. This approach creates a vacuum in writers’ agency line of work in my country. And there aren’t many writers in my country who can speak or write in English (which I see the universal language of mankind) much fluently, so mostly they can’t go worldwide. But if you want to do something professionally, and as perfectly as possible, I believe you must work with professionals, and do what you do in a professional manner. That’s why, at this stage of my career as an artist, I believe I need a professional agent who would promote me better than I can do myself. 

Who is Selim Yeniçeri?

Yeniçeri was born in Istanbul, Turkey, in February 7th, 1972. From his early childhood he began to signal to his artistic potential, and at 8 years old, he began to work as a dubbing actor for Turkish government’s television and radio station TRT, while getting trained on acting by many famous, or legendary, names of Turkish Government Theater. He also acted on stage in many plays, beginning with Macbeth by Shakespeare (Yeniçeri was 11 years old then, and he acted Lord McDuff’s son).

When he was a high school student 14 years old, and with experience in various lines of art so far, it was time for music now. He grabbed the old guitar of a family friend, and began to learn how to make rock music. When he was through the high school, he began his formal artistic training at Mimar Sinan University Academy of Fine Arts as a Traditional Turkish Handcrafts student. Meanwhile, he also focused on his music, and he had concerts in various cities.

When graduated the university, with his own words, since “he read a lot, and he had to find a way to read for free,” he began to translate books from English to Turkish, and he translated his first book The Belonging by William R. Brassell for Okyanus Publishing. This decision was a turning point in Yeniçeri’s life. While working as a book translator, he also studied on psychology and self-help with a leading Turkish psychologist Mahpeyker Kocgunduz, whom Yeniçeri met when he was trying to overcome his problem of genius syndrome.

In 1999, he began to record his first (and only for now) album titled Road of The Kings. All the songs in this symphonic hard rock album were written and composed by Yeniçeri; other than being the lead singer in this album, he played rhythm, lead, and acoustic guitars, piano, and keyboards. However, when the recordings were complete in the beginning of 2000, album proved to be a disappointment for Yeniçeri due to imminent global financial crisis.

At the beginning of 2002, he flew to Philippines. Living in this tropical country for around a year, he made pop rock and R&B music at various bars with his Filipino band named The Diamonds. At the end of the year he was back to Turkey, and taught English for a private foreign language school until 2004.

In 2004, he founded Cosmic Books as the company’s first general publishing director, publishing books about spiritualism, New Age, metaphysics, self-help, and occultism. Again in 2004, he published his first novel titled Enigma. The plot of the book was highly surprising, and a nationwide publishing magazine Kitap showed the novel as one of the most interesting works of the year.

Focusing on his career as a freelancing book translator afterwards, Yeniçeri became one of the best selling translators of his country in 2005, translating the legendary medical work You: Your User’s Guide by Mehmet Oz, MD.&Michael Roizen, MD.

With hundreds of radio plays, dozens of concerts, one symphonic hard rock album, numerous illustrations and artworks, around 300 translated books in various genres, 8 written novels and self-help books under his belt, Yeniçeri is a shining example of putting what taken from books into good use in real life; also a loving husband, and a much admired father of one.
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