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TRIP TO COMMAGENE [ENGLİSH]

En son güncellendiği tarih: 11 Kas 2020


It started raining in New York. While people were soaking in the torrential rain in Central Park, many had chosen to go into the surrounding cafeterias. Richard, the architect, hurried out of his office into the street. How was it that he could never calculate the rain? Opening and closing his umbrella he got into the first taxicab he saw. The constant glance at his watch did not go unnoticed by the taxi driver; “I think you'll catch your flight ... Kennedy Airport? " he said. Richard nodded. He was concerned that he did not even know if he had put his passport in his bag. He dug through his briefcase, and all the architectural drawings, seminar files, round trip flight tickets, flash memory cards and camera were in it. His excitement was growing and sweat was dripping down his forehead. Suddenly he felt his body warm. He reached down to the bottom of the bag. Fortunately, he had taken his passport among the seminar files. Relaxed as he leaned his head on the headrest, he loosened his tie. After a short while he was startled by the sound of horns and raised his head. The driver said: "damn it, the road is closed, I have to go to another street." Traffic was jammed, not a step was advancing. The driver turned right and passed through luxury stores and jewelry shops onto the next street. Suddenly they realized that they were being caught in a large crowd. A flood of people in the rain was moving forward with flags and banners in their hands. Richard was relieved when he saw American flags and the Turkish red-and-white-crescent-and-star flags. How could he had forgotten the annual Turkish march in Manhattan? He knew that the parade along Madison avenue was a cultural event. When the driver crossed over to another street, he accelerated. Richard hated large gatherings. He had seen countless crowds like this in the capitals of the countries he had visited to give seminars, had encountered marches and rallies, and had overcome many dangers. In fact, he could never forget the bomb attacks in London. - I'm running late to catch my flight, man, can't you go some other way? - Shortly, we will reach the main street, sir; traffic starts to flow out there; we will relax after the Brooklyn Bridge, said the driver. - We must be quick; my flight is just about to takeoff. - I am doing my best, sir. Richard looked over the historic Brooklyn Bridge into the ringed waters of the East River. He rejected a caller on the ringing phone. After a short while he muted the phone; this time he saw his secretary's name on the flashing screen. When in a hurry, he did not want to be disturbed by anyone. If he met someone, he was often rude and offensive to his secretary. As they arrived at Kennedy Airport, he did not have time to look at the bill he gave to the taxi driver. The taxi driver smiled and then hurriedly shouted "you forgot your umbrella, sir." Richard did not turn back, but quickly headed for the international terminal. Suddenly he heard his name announced. He could not even remember how he got through the X-Ray security machine and looked at the airport arrivals and departures board. All of a sudden, he realized where he was. The Rome-bound flight had already left. His eyes were stuck on the departures board and he remained thoughtful. When he came to his senses, he asked airline personnel whether there was another flight leaving for Rome. He learned though that there was only one in the evening. Thus, it was no longer possible to catch up with the seminar. "Flights are always late, now they don't even catch rain," he thought. Was this good? Was country after country, seminar after seminar, getting boring now? He was aware that lately his life was getting very monotonous. He felt nauseous, but must have forgotten his nausea pills at the office. He could not have breakfast either. A hot coffee might bring him some relief. He walked towards the duty-free shops and stopped in front of someone he liked. The stone heads of humans, lions and eagles on a background poster caught his attention. He had never seen statues on a high mountain before. He was amazed when he read the text at the bottom: "Commagene Sculptures - Turkey" How come had he never seen all these architectural masterpieces before? On the top shelf laid a book introducing Turkey and he took it. The cover art attracted him. The architecture of the "Ishak Pasha Palace-Turkey" was wonderful. Seeing two big temples, such as the Sultan Ahmet Mosque and the Hagia Sophia in the same context made him quite curious. He studied the book and sat down on a chair. He was also intrigued by the name of the traveler on the captions beneath the historical sites: “The great Turkish traveler Evliya Çelebi”. He could not get enough Turkish coffee brought in a small cup. For a long time, he studied the Galata Tower and the Istanbul mosques. He tried to remember why he had not attended any seminars in Istanbul until today. The sun was about to rise when the plane began to descend on Istanbul. The first beams of the morning light were dancing with the minarets of the various mosques. How nice it would be to put your own signature next to the bridges on the strait that connects the two continents. In his mind, he envisioned a new bridge and a new place; neither should have resembled the San Francisco bridge nor the Sydney bridge. As the plane approached the runway, he took his handbag. These days he was very contemplative and forgetful. A little break might provide him some respite. For a long time, he had forgotten to take a vacation away from seminars, conferences, and business meetings. He believed that following in the footsteps of a great traveler like Evliya Çelebi could bring him back to life. In the book, he smiled at Evliya Çelebi's humorous narrative of how cold the city of Erzurum was illustrated by a cat frozen while jumping from roof to roof. He was captivated by the Topkapi Palace, the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and the magnificent Ottoman architecture. He enjoyed visiting the Spice Bazaar, covered bazaars, and the historical booksellers. Maybe being unrecognizable would thrill him. The diplomatic greetings and meals in the countries he had visited had overwhelmed him. Instead of staying at a famous hotel he had chosen a simpler one. Perhaps it would even make sense to turn off the cell phone. Nobody should interrupt his Istanbul trip. At sunset, sitting at the cafeteria under the Ortaköy bridge, Richard looked at the reddening waters of the Bosphorus. His eyes were fixed on the cruise ships, freighters and fishing boats going and coming in both directions; he opened the book bound with gazelle skin, which he had bought today from a secondhand shop. It was a historical book about Istanbul. There was a preface on the first page. Various “ebcet” dates [method used in the Ottoman Empire to calculate dates] were given in the index and in the footnotes at the bottom of the page, along with the chronology. When he turned the first three pages, galleys, sailboats, and great rafts in the blue waters of the strait cleared his stressed mind. He looked intently at a post card that had been forgotten between the pages of the book. There were tulips and Ottoman writings on the stamp, except on the envelope. He immediately recognized the historical Galata Tower in the picture. He learned that it was a vestige of Genoese times. Suddenly, the French writing on the card caught his eye. "Constantinople - 1920" THE GALATA TOWER The Anatolian side of Constantinople, under the blazing sun, was flooded with people resembling an army of ants. Slaves, smeared with olive oil as protection from the sun, were shaping the rocks brought from the quarries with cutting hand tools. Medos, the architect, was thoughtful while observing the misty opposite shores of the Bosphorus from the top of the Galata Tower under construction. He found a flaw on the project he had been working on for a long time, got angry and shouted at the slaves: "Raise the measure to twenty-four." The slaves, as their backs were being whipped, rolled large rocks by sliding them over wood planks with difficulty. Stones were carved and shaped on the benches set up at the bottom of the defense walls. It seemed impossible for even a single galley to pass through the towers built on a hill overlooking the Bosphorus. If a fire broke out in the city, the trumpets would sound and the slaves in charge of extinguishing fires would rush to the scene. The trumpets sounded for a long time, notwithstanding that a mysterious galley appeared on the horizon. The prisoners captured in wars and working in shipyards were brought to complete the Galata Tower. Medos turned his eyes away from the horizon when the head of trumpeters informed him that a messenger was galloping from the ridges of Karaköy. He brushed his gray beard, which had begun to turn white. In the Genoese city, the messenger wearing a white turban on his head was pale. He handed the sultan's rolled edict, which he took out of his caftan's right pocket. Medos nodded at him to read it. As the messenger read the edict, the translators instantly translated it into the Genoese language. II from the Osmanoğulları family. Murat understood the difficulties for the Genoese and promised support for the completion of the twenty-four towers and the walls. Aid was to be sought at later meetings. After a positive meeting of Medos with the Genoese king, II. Murat's proposal had been accepted. As the Galata Tower rose to the sky, it began to be seen as a part of the Byzantine walls. The Anatolian coast of Constantinople was getting a new skyline. The towers and defensive walls of the small city did not seem to threaten the Byzantine Empire. The Byzantines called the tower rising from the Genoese colonial city the "Big Bastion". Slaves who knew well the arithmetic and geometric calculations were chosen so that the stones for the giant tower, which the Genoese called the "Tower of Christ," were of the same size. The relations with the Osmanoğulları family and the aid pleased the king. In fact, the Genoese said “II. They named him "Murat". Medos climbed the farthest tower and looked towards the Galata Tower, which he had designed at a height of sixty people. In his imagination, he visualized the upper part of the tower once again: the observation floor consisting of large arched windows, an all-around balcony, a cantilever floor with a small arched window and a pointed, conical roof. He thought that Constantinople, the Asian coast, the Altınboynuz shipyards, and the marble and wooden ports on the Bosphorus would be the best places to be viewed from there. The wines brought from the Frankish lands and islands, and the women perfumed with rose oil, soon came to mind. Richard, the architect, looked up from the book as a waiter approached and asked him whether he would like to order. He ordered Turkish coffee. He was so caught up in the book that did not even realize that the other tables were quicky filling up. He felt the curious gaze of a short-haired stylish lady on him; in fact, her face was too familiar and he recalled having seen her in the duty-free shop at the New York airport. How small the world was. When Richard turned another page, a beautiful story caught his attention. COMMAGENE From the garden of his palace King Antiochos looked towards the walls of the castle on the opposite side and up to the sky. Tonight, the Milky Way and billions of stars were close enough to be landing on the ground. His interest in the stars and in distant planets was growing. Stones could be embellished with the last solar eclipse. The night was cool and suddenly he felt cold in his linen tunic. He walked in leather sandals on the mosaics of the garden pavillion symbolizing lion and eagle heads. Just as he entered, he ordered his vizier to take architects, sculptors and stonemasons into the reception hall an hour later. The pool was filled with healing water brought from the Kâhta stream with earthen pipes. The king bathed among laurel, yellow lily and lotus flowers thrown into the water. Beautiful women in the pool rubbed King Antiochos' strong arms, thight stomach and steel breast with olive oil from bottles held in their hands, and foamed his irresistible body with rose scented soaps. King Antiochos was at peace in his magnificent palace. As his body relaxed, he ordered the women out of the pool and examined the beautiful waist-lenght hair and slender bodies of specially selected beautiful women. As the king came out of the pool, palace officials held up a towel for him to dry. King Anthiochos looked at the famous architects and stonemasons while sipping wine from the glasses held in their hands, in the spacious hall of the palace whose walls were decorated with purple lilies and lotus flowers. He knew the people and started a nice conversation with them, who were pleased to be in the palace on grounds decorated with emerald and ruby mosaics among the lion statues. Architects Greg from Zeug, and Tales from Samsat, wearing linen dresses and leather sandals on their feet, were there. Judging by their loud speech, they seemed to be arguing. When the meeting began, everyone sat on rosewood chairs in a crescent-shape row around the king. He first looked at the architects' proposals and drawings and saw that the structures would be made of wood, earthen briquettes and cut stones. This should not be the usual architecture of the time. However, no drawing was similar to his dream. King Anthiochos wanted huge statues that could be seen even from distant lands. He was provided with information from the best architects about the materials necessary for these large structures, how many architects, sculptors, foremen, mathematicians, slaves were to be employed, and when the work would be completed. No idea satisfied King Anthiochos. The meeting was still going on while servants lit the oil lamps. This time, the architects gathered around the large chestnut table, which was taken to the dining room for dinner and decorated with blueberry flowers. The meal included fried venison, boiled mashed potatoes, sea bass, salad, and honey milk desserts. King Antiochos, after having tasted roast venison and salad, spoke. - My father Mithradates I was the most important king of Commagene and what made him so important were big projects and achievements. However, he did not live long enough to build these big projects. My goal is to make my father’s dreams come true, by combining the Persians’ Zoroastrian religion of Mithradates I and the Greek polytheistic religions of my mother Laodike. Thus, we will create a world religion, we will make this mountain its centerpiece and we will spread this religion all over the world from here. The faces of the god statues will face both east and west and my will will be written on their backs. In my will, I will instruct the kings who will replace me to make the temple beautiful, those who come to worship in good faith will be praised by me and those who come with bad faith will be cursed. This mountain will be far away from wars, where no force will disturb our gods, and only the roar of the winds will be heard. Greg, the Zeugma architect spoke: - My dignified king, I have no architectural problems in making your tomb on the summit of this unreachable mountain and carving the stone statues. But… - But what? - Your majesty, the god statues to be made so high according to your wishes will not be able to withstand harsh climate conditions. You know that, except in summer, this high mountain is always covered with snow and ice. The stone god statues could be damaged by severe frost. - They can get hurt, what do you mean?... I'm giving you fifteen days. For fifteen days, you will be hosted in my palace in the best possible way, eat the most delicious meals, bathe in private baths and fountains where no one will enter, make drawings under flower pavilions and sleep with beautiful women in feather beds. In short, all the treasures of my kingdom will be at your service, and I will spare no expense to fulfill my greatest ideal. If necessary, I ask you, to trim the slopes of the mountain, form piles of soil and place these sculptures on top of the mountain. On this mountain, the lion will symbolize our power on earth and the eagle heads will symbolize our face in the sky. After a while, the architects, who took a break from honey and milk desserts at the magnificent dining table, glanced at each other in surprise. *** Commagene architects, sculptors and stone carvers expected the great task to last for years. First, in the east, west and north, the mountain would be terraced and the terrace would be wide enough. Then, the god sculptures would take shape in the hands of the stonemasons. Architects and stonemasons went without sleep for days, protected from the scorching heat of summer by rubbing olive oil on their bodies, and eating fatty animals fed with honey and milk from the winter cold. Although the strong winds slowed their work, they did not give up, they were proud to have the tomb of their King Anthiochos on the summit. The statues of their gods were gigantic, sculpted as Anthiochos wanted. Anthiochos placed his statue on the left side of Zeus and the statue of his beloved mother Laodike on his right side. Now, on the high summit, the gods of east and west would rest peacefully, listening to the sounds of winds, and watching the sunrise and sunset forever. *** The sun was about to set as Richard, the architect, examined the magnificent statues, one facing east and one west. Surprised, he dropped the brochure from his hand, and as he leaned on the ground to retrieve it, he drifted away from the stone statues facing the wind. While the god statues on top of the high mountain remained in the darkness, Commagene commemorated King Anthiochos gratefully. Richard walked the narrow paths and took the waiting bus down the slope. When the bus left, he pulled out the historical book from his bag. He examined the silhouette of Ishak Pasha Palace under the dim light inside. Getting off New York's fake skyscrapers and having stayed with the silent witness of past history had brought him back to life. Tomorrow morning his first job would be to go to Erzurum and from there to Doğubeyazıt. Watching the sunset tomorrow night in the palace of fairy tales excited him. The bus stopped in front of his hotel in Adıyaman while he was looking for his glasses to read under the dim light the small captions in the booklet. The driver said: - Sir, you are the only one on the bus, won't you go back to your hotel? Richard looked up from the book and looked surprised at the driver who was waiting for him to get off the bus, then returned to the book and read the footnote: "The Commagene sculptures were named after the rulers of Nemrud, who were named in the Old Testament." THE END

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