Day 13  September 12, 2010                              Day 14  Table of content for Eastern Turkey Turkey tour Journal
Sunday Mardin
Submitted by Susan Casey 

Today the Turkish people will vote  for their constitutional amendments. Meli wants NO but all the adds that we have seen through out Turkey  said YES. Mardin, still hot!  We all slept well I think, pretty much recovering from the heat from yesterday but as the day wore on we felt drugged again so had relaxing naps in cool rooms before dinner out on the deck as the sun went down and the crescent moon and planet star greeted us.  But during the day it was so hot that the railings were too hot to touch!

Mardin, the only CITY in Turkey designated by UNESCO as a world heritage museum due in part to the city maintaining its old buildings and not allowing them to be destroyed.  Mardin sits high on a hill overlooking the Mesopotamia plain looking toward Syria.  Half of the population is Syrian Orthodox and the influence is strong here.  We visited the Deysrulzafaran Monastery dating back to 300 AD and in use as a patriarchy until 1932  It  was built on an earlier religious spot called the temple of the sun where the tomb room is now located and where all  patriarchs of the monastery were buried == buried sitting up and facing east.  Underneath the tomb room we visited the original temple of the sun room where the ceiling is flat, not arched.  Each stone weighs approximately 3 tons.  The ceiling has lasted 3000 years and has never fallen down, even  with earthquakes. No one has been able to explain how the ceiling was constructed and made to work.  One of the treats before we left the monastery was to hear the words of Jesus said in Aramaic.

One of the unique aspects of this tour is our interaction with people on the street or along the highways stopping to talk with shepherds as they guard their flocks,  talking with people as they go about their day.  This morning was particularly moving.  A man and his young daughter with an IV hookup were standing along the road.  We stopped to pick them up and took them home to their village several kilometers away.


When we arrived at the Monastery, we were met by a nice young man who was going to be our guide at this living Monastery. When he told us that the Assyrian Orthodox in Mardin still speak in Aramaic, the language that Jesus spoke, Meli asked if he could read from his bible a teaching of Jesus so we can hear how Jesus would have said  what he wanted to teach. We all sat in a shady spot in the 2000 year old Monastery and  listened to the melodic words of Aramaic.

It was a very moving experience!

After lunch in a local restaurant we visited a madrasa which is an example of  white sheep architecture culture.  Originally this structure as a school specializing in astronomy.  This was before the days of  telescopes.  Instead, pools of water were used to reflect and enlarge the stars.  The stones used in the building are local  and the mortar uses egg whites which also has the effect of repelling insects.

Mardin through the headstones of a grave

Men playing cards in the coffee houses

The kids playing in the streets with guns

Kids trying to cool off in the pool
 of the medrasa which was once used for
astronomy classes

Nasrah  at the age of 80 is still painting the
icons and tapestry for the Assyrian Orthodox churches/

Nasrah also paint mythological creatures
of Mardin legends

















Our final visit was to the Museum of Mardin. The long history of Mardin  was displayed  in the wonderful collection.
Selcukian pottery  depicting a mother goddess figure is a very unique example of the  Islam - Era pottery. Since islam is iconaclastic, it is very rare to find any personified images let along a goddess figure.

It was a wonderful day. Tomorrow we will be on our own to explore more of Mardin.



                        Day 14  Table of content for Eastern Turkey Turkey tour Journal