Monday, January 01, 2007

Tarsus and Lystra

Today we left Adana and made our way to Tarsus and Lystra. Tarsus was the boyhood home of Paul and was "no ordinary city" (Acts 21:39). We're pretty confident this was Paul's hometown because Jesus Himself said it was in Acts 9:11. This city has also hosted other significant figures in history such as Marc Antony, Cleopatra, Xerxes, Darius, and Alexander the Great.

A view of modern day Tarsus.

Perhaps the most impressive of the remains of Tarsus. This is all that is left of the ancient main road that ran through the center of town. The ruins just to the side are the remains of a marketplace. Paul would have traveled through here almost daily.

This is the old entrance to the city. It is now called the "Gate of Cleopatra" and legend says she passed through this gate on her way to marry Marc Antony.

Archeologists are unsure of what this giant ancient structure dating to 200AD is but they believe it may be some sort of cult temple. The archeologist traveling with our group said there is nothing else from the ancient world of this magnatude in all of Turkey.

The Kidnis river is where Alexander the Great bathed and caught an illness that almost killed him in 333 BC. It is also the river that Paul would have played in as a child.

After leaving Tarsus we traveled through the Cilician Gates which aren't actual gates but a very narrow passage through the Tarsus mountains. Paul would have traveled through here with Silas on his 2nd and 3rd missionary journeys. Many other famous historical figures would have traveled through here as well.

Unfortunately I don't have a picture to post but I will say this; I was completely amazed at how difficult the travel was to get from Tarsus to Iconium. The mountain passage was extremely rugged and difficult followed by foothills and plains of equally tough terrain. Realizing that what took us 3 hours to drive through probably took a week's worth of difficult travel made me really begin to appreciate the hard work and dedication that Paul was willing to endure to spread the message of Jesus.

After driving several hours we passed Iconium (where we are staying tonight and visiting tomorrow) and went to visit Lystra. I was very excited about visiting Lystra because it's one of my favorite places Paul visited in all his journeys.

Paul visited Lystra on both his 1st and 2nd journeys and here are the main events that took place in this tiny little town:

1. Paul miracously heals a man lame from birth.

2. Paul and Barnabas are worshiped as they are thought to be Zeus and Hermes in the flesh.

3. Paul is stoned to death and raised from the dead.

4. Paul recruits and circumcises Timothy who becomes his protege and the receipient of two personal letters.

5. The church here is one of the intended receipients of the letter to the Galatians.

However what I didn't know is that while archeologists have found very strong proof that this is the location of Lystra, it has yet to be excavated. So when we arrived, this is what we saw:

It's not a hill but rather a tell (an archaeological site in the form of an earthern mound that accumulates from mineral buildup over time) that covers modern day Lystra.

Here is the view from the top.

Me playing archeologist. I'm actually holding several pottery shards I found. I don't know how old they are but they looked very old.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Glad your having a blast. I'm sick and flying all over the US to simply get home from Urbana. I will live vicariously through you as I cough/hack/spit my way through various flights to get home.

Good pics too by the way....