"Cruising the Lycian Shore" is our first cruise in Turkey since October 2019, On this occasion, to give an impression of the experience, we are providing a kind of travel diary. Every day we will pick one image we took that day, accompanied by some explanations and thoughts.
Today was the turning point of our Lycian cruise. We reached the easternmost point of the itinerary. From tomorrow, we return back towards western Lycia, following the same shore we travelled for the first week, but leapfrogging ourselves in terms of our shore visits.
It was also the day of the longest shore excursion, lasting from morning to late afternoon, and dedicated to one of the most celebrated ancient sites in Turkey: Perge.
In the morning, we visited the vast archaeological museum of Antalya (Turkey's fifth-biggest town, ancient Attaleia), to look at many fine finds, but especially at the rich displays of Roman sculpture from public buildings (particularly the theatre) in nearby Perge. We saw many wonderful things there, including statues of all the major Greek/Roman deities. I have written about an Aphrodite in the museum some years ago.
After a local lunch, we visited Perge itself, or part of it. The ancient city was very large, comprising a defensible acropolis (citadel) and a sprawling walled city in the plain below, characterised by the massive walls delineating its limits and by the broad column-lined boulevards that were its main streets in antiquity. We saw fountains, bathhouses, a market, a stadium and also the theatre that is the source of so much sculpture in the Antalya archaeological museum. In terms of grandeur, Perge rivals super-sites like Ephesus.
After returning to our boat, we continued to another cove on the Lycian Shore further south.
Our image today is from the museum, namely from its fine collection of sculpted sarcophagi, found in the cemeteries of Perge. It's a showcase of Roman art. Again, I have written about another specimen (from Patara) before! I picked this one because not only is it a stunningly vibrant work of third-century-AD Roman sculpture, but because it shows an old friend. The scene is the ribald eternal party celebrated by Dionysos, the god of wine (note all the grapes!), theatre, ecstasy and other things, together with his entourage of satyrs and maenads, creatures that are human in appearance, but represent the wilder side of our kind. The lady shown at the centre of our detail is Ariadne, the god's wife. We meet her on many of our tours: in Crete as a local princess and helper in slaying the Minotaur, on Naxos as an abandoned lover and new-found bride, and in Rome as a masterpiece. How nice to see her here, and how intriguing to consider why such a lively and hardly sombre scene was chosen to decorate a sarcophagus, the final resting place of a deceased couple.
Tomorrow, we'll brave a jungle.
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