A TRIP TO THE LYCIAN REGION OF TURKEY
The Lycians founded a civilisation in Anatolia centuries before the Greeks in the years 2800-2300 B.C. They had a total of 23 cities and their Capital was Xanthios. Some of these cities in the present day Turkey are:
Myra (Demre), Anthipellus (Kaş), Kekova, Simena (Kale), Thelmessus (Fethiye), Teimiussa(Üçağız), Patara, Xantos(Esen Çay).
The Lycian civilization during the Bronze Age they had their own Parliament and were practicing democratic principles. Important large cities like Myra were given three votes and others had one vote in the parliament. Before the patriarchal societies of the Hellenic civilisations, the Lycian civilisation was ruled by matriarchal principles. What followed is common knowledge; The Greeks, Persians, Alexander the Great and the Selcuk Turks who alll left their traces in this region. Whats left to us today are: The rocktombs, the old irrigation systems and ruins of few ancient cities.
Translated from from the Article ın Turkısh: Anthipellus Balikcisi
So says the Fisherman of Anthipellus, A.K.A. Şevket Şişmanoğlu in my travelogue to the Lycian region in 2003.
The year before this trip, my wife and I had taken the Blue Voyage in the region, a luxury yacht cruise with four other couples: three of them German and one Turkish. The captain of the yacht took us to all of the ancient Lycian cities mentioned above including to Myra where St. Nicholas once lived and supposedly the story of Santa Clause first started. During the day we swam in the cool waters of beautiful turquoise bays and when we docked on land we visited several ruins and ancient amphitheaters.Throughout the day our yacht kept cruising between rock tombs and sunken under ground cities of the ancient Lycia. We were served four times a day; breakfast, lunch, an afternoon snack: British tea time and at dinner: usually fresh caught fish accompanied by vegetable appetizers called mezes and the Turkish drink Raki ,also called the lions milk. At night after all of the entertainment was over, instead of sleeping in the cabin, my wife and I preferred to lay down on the deck and fell asleep watching the stars on the pitch black Mediterranean sky. It was probably the best trip we ever made and it only cost us $100 a day room and board and all meals included with 2003 prices.
During the blue cruise we had fallen in love with the city of Kaş, the ancient Anthipellus,which was included among our several stops. The following year after spending few days in Bodrum (Halikarnasos) at our time sharing apartment, we took the bus to Kaş. A breathtaking trip on a luxury bus, on narrow roads through lava formed rocks and mountainous areas, overseeing bays where the colours of blue and green were celebrating their union. While travelling through the lava formations in a hilly area, I remembered a Caribbean cruise where we had to pay a fee in Cayman Islands to visit a tourist atraction called " Hell." I thought to myself : The Hell would be ashamed had he seen the vast Mediterranean lava formations here and Monte Carlo would probably feel jealous had she seen the view of Kalkan and Kaş from top of the hill. And as far as the bus trip: it was a more breath taking joy ride than the ones in Disneyland.
In Kaş; we stayed in a three star motel called Mavilim (My BlueOne) run by a Turkish gentleman who had lived all his adult life in Germany. The hotel was situated on the peninsula, with air continued clean rooms, a beautiful swimming pool and a view several steps above the ocean. The owner Şevket Şişmanoğlu was a very knowledgeable man, who not only took us to all of the surrounding ancient cities and resort areas but also acted as a tour guide and informed us about the history of the places we visited.
In one of the ancient cities we visited a funny thing had happened. We were visiting Kale(Simena), a village build virtually on rocks with no access to the mainland except from the ocean. All of the buildings were on the steep hill and on top of the hill there was old Ottoman fortress. The villagers had tiny stores build into the rocks and they were exhibiting, carpets, kilims, dresses, hats, fake jewlry and the like, not only inside but also outside of the stores. I wanted to try a pair of baggy Turkish village trousers the so called Şalvar. My wife who never liked the Şalvar kept walking down the hill while I tried one of the trousers on top of my shorts.The pants were tied with a simple string in the belt area. I was trying the fit but could not open the tight knot. My wifes girlfriend from Columbus who with her family accompanied us during this trip, offered me to help to untie the knot. As she reached to my belt area, a frog leaped out the Şalvar as if it was coming from inside my zipper.It jumped on her and she started screaming with all the tourists in the area watching us. We all got a good laugh out of it and this story is told many times in our home in Columbus during our dinner parties with our friends and family.
I will not go into further detail about our visit to Kaş in that year, instead I might translate my travelogue named Anthipellus Balikcisi and add to this writing in the future. I just want to mention that we were very happy with our stay at the Mavilim Hotel and our visit to Kaş .From my research on the Internet it seems like the hotel Mavilim is still there in Kaş and Şevket Bey and or his sons are still running it.
ABOUT THE LYCIAN INFLUENCE ON THE AMERICAN CONSTITUTION
It is said that at a given year at a given time there are at least a quarter of a million Americans are visiting Turkey. As a proof of this; even in the tiny rock village of Kale there were several Americans, including families or backpack students the day we visited the village. But I wonder how many Americans realize that Turkey or the civilisations of Anatolia had influenced our founding founders and the American Law and Constitution ?
One of such influence is that of Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent who is recognized as one of the a major law givers of history. Several marble relief portraits including Sultan Suleymans are over the gallery doors of the House Chamber depicting historical figures noted for their work in establishing the principles that underlie American law. Twenty three historical figures including Byzantine Emperor Justinian I, were installed when the chamber was remodeled in 1949-1950.
The other such influence and probably the more important one is that of the Lycian Federation to the American Constitution and to the American Federal System. Here is an expert about the subject from more knowledgeable sources:
Lycia and the American ConstitutionLycia's system of representative government with privileges and obligations in direct ratio to a city's classification is the outstanding feature of the Lycian Union. Its system of elected representatives was unique in the ancient world and much admired by the ancients and later peoples. In fact, the writers of the constitution of the United States studied the Lycian federal system of government with proportional representation as a possible model for their own government.
Excerpts regrding Lycia in the Federalist Papers.
New York Times, The American Constitution's Example in Ancient Turkey:
A Congress, Buried in Turkey's Sand
By RICHARD BERNSTEIN
Published: September 19, 2005
PATARA, Turkey - Alexander the Great was here, and so was Saint Paul, on his way to Ephesus. Centuries later, the drafters of the American Constitution took the ancient Lycian League, which was based here, as an early example - in fact, it was history's earliest example - of the form of republican government they envisaged as well.
The Lycian League was mentioned twice in the Federalist Papers, once by Alexander Hamilton, once by James Madison, so it could safely be said that it entered into the history of the formation of the United States. Now, after centuries of neglect, teams of Turkish and German archaeologists have been working under the hot sun of this small Mediterranean seacoast town, uncovering some of its treasures. Among them, liberated from the many hundreds of truckloads of sand that covered it, is the actual parliament building (see it here) where the elected representatives of the Lycian League met. It has rows of stone seats arranged in a semicircle, the same arrangement used in the chambers of the American Congress. Its stone-vaulted main entrances are intact, and so is the thronelike perch where the elected Lyciarch, the effective president of the League, sat.
To read more of the story and the Excerpts from the Federalist Papers Regarding Lycia
The Federalist Papers are a series of 85 essays written by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison in 1787-88. They were published to urge New Yorkers to ratify the proposed United States Constitution. For the complete papers, click here.