"Cruising the Carian Coast" is our second cruise in Turkey since October 2019, On this occasion, to give an impression of the experience, we are providing a kind of travel diary on our blog, following precedents from Greece, Ireland and Turkey. Rather than describing every day in detail (you can check our itineraries on www.petersommer.com for that), every day we will pick one image we took that day, accompanied by some explanations and thoughts.
Today marked the mid-point of this one-week cruise, as some of our guests remarked with mixed feelings. But it's in the nature of time that it passes - and that passing is a necessity for both my callings: archaeology and guiding!
We breakfasted in the shadow (not literally) of the great ancient fort at Loryma, and then proceeded a short distance eastward to a narrow inlet called Serçe harbour. The place looks like a safe refuge for boats along this shore, but it probably is not, considering that multiple shipwrecks, ranging from ancient to medieval, were discovered at its bottom (some of the finds are on display in Bodrum Castle).
We went ashore there and took local transport for a short distance inland to visit the ancient site of Phoenix (Foinix). This Carian town, spread out around a rugged and steep-sided acropolis, was an important Rhodian possession in the third and second centuries BC and although it has never been excavated, there is a lot to see: terrace walls and structural walls (of houses, at least one temple and some churches), burial terraces and pyramidal burial monument supports, rock-cut cisterns (still in use!) and house foundations, vast quantities of pottery, multiple inscriptions, a village abandoned in the twentieth century. Last year, my colleague Olivier posted about Phoenix on this blog - so there's no need to repeat his insights here.
Another charm of Phoenix is the mixed small-scale agriculture and animal husbandry that takes place in the remarkably rocky valley surrounding the site, where almonds, figs and barley are grown, clearly at great expense of time and effort. This kind of mixed production was typical of the region, and of the entire Aegean, from antiquity until quite recently. Many terrace walls, some abandoned, others still maintained, stand witness to the toil of generations here.
We saw some animals as well, including the small breed of cattle distinctive to Anatolia, some chickens and many donkeys. On other occasions, we have spotted horses, wild boar and eagles here, too. Phoenix is certainly idyllic - or bucolic.
A bonus today, and one we'd expect more easily on a spring tour than an autumn one, were the wildflowers on the ancient site. Apart from the usual thistles and asphodels, we spotted some beautiful and delicate, but rather large, purple flowers growing out of crevices in the limestone. They resembled crocuses more than anything else. I am not a botanist by any stretch of the imagination, but a bit of research and asking friends [thank you, Claudia!] suggests they are Colchicum autumnale, colloquially known as the Autumn Crocus, although they actually belong to a different family.
After Phoenix, we had a superb seafood lunch in a tiny port on the Gulf of Bozburun, before rejoining our gulet for a leisurely afternoon of swimming and snorkelling. In the spirit of the day, I spotted some amphora fragments on the sea bottom...
Tomorrow is taking us further eastwards.