Oct. 26th: Aphrodisias

At first I was less than excited to be writing the blog for today – I have a fair amount of work to catch up on, emails to shoot off, places to explore, Classics to study, etc.

Then I thought it over – my mother has been complaining lately that I haven’t been writing any of the blogs, and much more importantly I realized what the two main events of the day were: A visit to Aphrodisias, and the devastating food poisoning that nearly universally incapacitated the FSP. Given this rich subject matter, I nobly accepted the assignment.

We all awoke from our sound, peaceful sleeps excited for what promised to be a particularly beautiful and well-preserved site. Well, truth be told, our sleeps weren’t quite sound or peaceful. In fact, most of the FSP was awake all night experiencing the wrath of Turkish cuisine. In addition, in Brett’s and my room, a mysterious scratching in the walls kept us awake and terrified until the early hours of the morning until our fatigue, dehydration, and nausea made us pass out in spite of the horrifying gnawing and screeching of what we later decided was in all likelihood a miniature dragon.

Our first stop was at the local market to pick out some delicious food and “genuine-fake” quality Turkish merchandise. Unfortunately, most of the FSP was still feeling battered and weary from a night spent battling the Vanth of digestive problems. Therefore, many opted to concentrate their efforts on merchandise – Eman picked out some “Beats” head phones which are shockingly still working, Cara scored a cozy North Face fleece to keep her warm during inter-frat transit this winter, and I got a comb! Now I can whip that bad boy out during casual conversation and inspire comparisons with The Fonz and other great comb-associated pop culture icons. Yeah. Awesome. Aaron got a rock.

After the market we piled on the bus for a pleasant two-hour drive to lunch, during which most of the FSP passed out. When we arrived we were seated at the “sick table” or the “normal food table” in an effort to contain and remedy the Turkitis that was still afflicting a good number of our party. The quarantine proved successful, and after a delicious/painful lunch, we pressed onward with joy and enthusiasm towards our only site of the day, Aphrodisias.

Aphrodisias is a city made of marble – literally! And we’re not talking faux-marble revetments, but solid, grade-A, Ionian marble. Turns out the residents of the town had the good fortune to settle just a stone’s throw from a massive marble deposit. Lucky, huh? Turns out they also had the good fortune to pick the right side in virtually every conflict they ever wrapped themselves up in – a sense of good judgment that, combined with their masterful sculpture and lucrative marble business, made them extraordinarily rich.

The site was lavish – from the temple of Aphrodite to the theatre to the stadium (the undisputed highlight of the site), every structure was opulent, well built, and shockingly well preserved (Eat your heart out, Pompeii). Unfortunately many FSP’ers had trouble enjoying the site due to continued stomach cramps, dizziness, and eruptions that would put Vesuvius to shame. Our intrepid Professor was feeling much better, thank God, and got to enjoy the site to its fullest. We all enjoyed watching him prance, prance, prance about – giddy as a schoolboy – exploring a site he had not yet visited during his academic career.

After a brief stop in the museum, which was quite impressive for a relatively off-the-beaten track site, it was back on the bus for another long ride to our hotel near the hot springs of Pamakkule. Much to our delight, we found our hotel features a “Thermal Jacuzzi Room.” After dinner, we decided to take a refreshing dip and combine our various viruses in a putrid stew of spring water and dead skin cells. It was glorious. To sum up the group’s opinion on this objectively disgusting and unhealthy activity, it is Aaron’s opinion that this sort of fusion swimming pool hot tub facility should be a legal requirement in all hotels.

Okay – that’s about it for today. We’re all feeling cleaner, stronger, and at least ten pounds lighter. We’re certainly strong enough to conquer whatever challenges tomorrow may level against us. Except a quiz. Dear God, I hope there’s not a quiz tomorrow before we get on the bus. That would be just awful.

Respectfully submitted,



Photos brought to you by Eman:

The new king of Aphrodisias.
If only the Circus Maximus was this well preserved.
“Is that a column I see?”
Teddy pokes around in a pile of marble blocks.
Remains of the Temple of Aphrodite, the patron goddess of Aphrodisias. You probably couldn't have guessed that from the name.
This was once a reflecting pool in the agora. Now it is dead grass.
Welcome to the theater. It's ever so grand.
The students admire the Sebasteion, site for the worship of the imperial cult.
Cat! And a Greek inscription.
An interactive map! What great fun!
Cara's got the orator pose down.
Putti (i.e. cupids) on pilaster capitals. Intricate.
Kathleen peruses the scenes of myth and imperial figures intertwined in the sculptural program on the Sebasteion.
Anchises, baby Aeneas, and Venus.

Hanging out on a tractor. That's how we roll.



Oct. 25th: Miletus, Didyma

Reporting from Turkey: A consultation with Roget’s Compendium of Familiar Quotations, Terms and Idiomatica turns up nothing for an earnest writer searching for just such a certain word as would convey the atmospheric quality that spurred on the forequarters of the day of 25, October, 2015. It was of such a peculiar blend of light and climate, what with the whole, wide sky illuminated to the point of embarrassment, yet still a meagre chill pervading the air, much like the cusp of nausea stirring up and down our bodies. One simply did not know whether a sweater would be a “wise move” or not. This bungling issue resulted in a veritable circus of scurrying dressing and re-dressing, according to the fluctuating conditions of shade and gust.

Change tracks. Now you’ve hopped back in time a smide, and fidgety, persnickety, fourteen-year-old Aaron Pellowski is opening his first history of philosophy. Chapter One: The Pre-Socratics. First subsection: Thales of Miletus. He would return to the Pre-Socratics again and again for years, studying them formally in Reed Hall in the fall term of his sophomore year.

Change back. Here he is in Miletus, on the same turf where Thales was said to have wandered, head angled straight into the stars, sometimes falling into ditches. Thales, whence sprung all western philosophy, the first to seek out the principle (in Greek: arche) of all things. Thus the first philosopher, the first mathematician, the first astronomer, the first economist, the first civil engineer, and more.

It was once said of Thales that he was wasting his time, fidgeting with the questions of the mind and earth. For no greater reason than to prove a point (perhaps the greatest reason there can be!) Thales bought up all the olive-presses. When the olive-harvest came in, the other men found that they were forced to rend olive-presses exclusively from Thales, who charged exorbitant prices. That is all to show that philosophers could make money if they wanted to, they simply don’t. For as Aristotle so neatly put it, the mass of men seek little beyond hedonistic stimulation and vegetative nutrients. Yet there are those better who strive for honor and glory. But best are those who live the life of contemplation.

In addition to Thales, there were also to be found in Miletus, many impressive rocks of serious historical significance. Most of these rocks were covered in a lot of cotton webbing, rendering them more or less inscrutable.

Spirits were down at lunch because Professor Ulrich was sick. Teddy spent most of the time scratching away at a coin he’d found at the site. You could tell by his vigorous thrusting of the toothpick that he really hoped it would turn out to be something interesting. Was it?

After lunch or, “post-prandially” as I should prefer to say, we took our voyage in the direction of Didyma. There was a temple to Apollo so big that I daresay, had I been wearing socks, they’d have been knocked clean off as soon as my gaze lighted on. We’re talking about a grove of truly gargantuan columns.

On the drive home, our guide told us all extensively about traditionally Turkish courtship and marriage. One such as myself, utterly blank in heritage, really envies the culture of others in hours such as this.



Photos brought to you by Yuhang:

Lucas poses in front of his favorite Greek/ Roman building type: the theater.

Early morning explorations at Miletus have commenced.

Jin enjoys the view from the top of the theater.

Cara and a lion friend.

Sad dog.

Bridget-Kate jots down some notes on the bath complex.

Jiyoung is smiling. Typical.

It's always interesting figuring out which parts of sites have been reconstructed.

Liz, Brett, and Yuhang express their excitement about Miletus.
The odeon, otherwise known as a covered music hall.
Arches galore! So many finely-cut voussoirs!

From this view, one might think this is a normal temple. One would be wrong.

The group assembles on the MASSIVE stairs of the Temple of Apollo for their afternoon lecture.

Liz provides some human scale.

The gorgon head, a very common theme for postcards from Didyma.

How many FSPers can you spot in this photo?

Bridget-Kate and Jiyoung attempt to translate some Greek inscriptions.

Imagine what this place looked like with all of its columns in place…


Oct. 24th: Ephesus

Dear darling blog readers,


We started out our day at the leisurely hour of nine. Then we had a nice short walk to the Temple of Artemis which was built in circa 550BCE. This temple to the fertility goddesses featured a cult image of Artemis that had several extra breasts. The temple was huge with a grand total of 127 columns.


Our next adventure was to a mosque that was built in the early Ottoman period. We got to go into a beautiful courtyard that had several tombstones that featured turbans as decoration. Then we got to enter the mosque and our fearless leader Iskander told us about Islam and the five pillars of Islam and cleared up some common inconceptions about Islam.


Then we got to go to the church of St. John the apostle. This is where it was believed that St. John brought Mary to Ephesus. The church of St. John was rebuilt by Emperor Justinian. The church is believed to be the burial place of St. John. In the medieval period it was believed by pilgrims that St. John had not died but, was sleeping underneath the alter and when he breathed in his sleep he kicked up the dust in the church. That dust was put in flasks and sold to the pilgrims.


We had a lovely lunch. Then were able to climb up to the cave of the seven sleepers.


After lunch we got to the archaeological site in Ephesus. It was wonderful. We got to explore the agora/forum. Then we walked along the road looking at greek inscriptions as we went. It was so exciting for students who were lucky enough to study Greek to look at Greek inscriptions since we really only have Latin inscriptions in Rome. We went to the terrace houses, which were beautiful. We all lamented that Pompeii is not as well preserved as this block of terrace houses. One house in particular was very cool because it had a huge apse where the patron of the house met his clients. I imagined he sat there like the godfather “you come to on the day of my only daughters wedding” . We went to the library of Celsus where Aaron “This is a metaphor but, for what I know not what” Pellowski, got to tell up about the Hellenistic virtues of knowledge. Inside the library there was an undisturbed grave, one of the few in the ancient world.

Professor Ulrich then urged us to continue despite our tired feet by tempting the students with promises of a ruined church and a bath complex. We dutifully followed him out to more remains. We went to the ruined chuch of Mary in which the Council of Ephesus was held in 431 AD. This council determined that Mary was in fact mother of God. There was also a bath building students explored but, the author of this blog might have been busy exploring the church


We trekked back down to the gate, had a lovely meal and finally went to bed. Safe and sound.




Photos courtesy of Thomas:

The lone standing column of Artemis of Ephesus, one of the 7 wonders of the Ancient World.

Group photo time!

What's left of the temple (plus a dog friend).

The group gets a crash-course on mosque architecture.

So much ashlar masonry.

Basilica of John the Apostle.

Thomas be creepin'.

One of the little old ladies making bread at our lunch stop.

Time to climb things (and by things I mean the path to the Cave of the Seven Sleepers).

It's nice to know they are genuinely fake. We might have been confused otherwise.

Ok, let's get down to business. There are buildings to see and inscriptions to read.

Damnatio memoriae at its finest. Sorry, Domitian.

“What a fine selection of column capitals.”

#marble #rad #ginghamshirt
View of the Library of Celsus from the top of the street. Impressive.
“Ohhhh. Hello there, Temple of deified Hadrian. Almost didn't see you there.”

One of the world's most frustrating puzzles.

The terrace houses. Why can't Pompeii still look like this?
Musing about the muses.
#libraryofcelsus #awesomepossum #movetourists
FSPers like climbing things.

Bridget-Kate puts on a performance in the theater.

The theater is a dominating feature of the landscape.
Remains of the Church of Mary.

“Alright. Enough is enough. Time to go.”


Oct. 23rd: Pergamon

It was Thanksgiving today—at least in our minds—because the one thing we knew was that we all got a great piece of Turkey. After a late night yesterday, it was definitely nice to get some shuteye. We ate breakfast, packed up, and headed to Pergamon, our first and only stop. We arrived rather early in the morning and we stopped at the Red Basilica. We listened, took notes, and observed a tunnel that the Romans had built to allow the portico of the Red Basilica, or the Temple of Serapis as we now learned, to be constructed on top.

Our next stop was the Asclepion, in other words, the sanctuary to Asclepius. There we saw the remains of a structure based off of the Pantheon in Rome, and constructed only a couple of years afterward. The complex also included sleeping quarters and a theater. The theater was actually rather peculiar, showing traits of both Roman and Greek culture.

We went to lunch and were surprised with a buffet. This was our first real Turkish meal because airplane meals don’t count and it passed the test. The Turkish food definitely got my approval and as a guy who constantly talks about food, this was a sign the trip will be a success. They even had some nice deserts such as rice pudding.

The real Turkish delight, however, was the acropolis of Pergamon. It was everything you could ever want in an acropolis: a library, a bunch of great temples (notably the Trajaneum with its incredible substructures and being made almost entirely of marble), the altar of Zeus (look it up, it’s worth it I swear), and of course the incredible theater of Pergamon. With 80 rows and the ability to hold 10,000 people, the theater was absolutely breathtaking. All of these sites came with a view which was just amazing.

Stunned by all that we had seen, we got into the bus, sang, mumbled and grumbled—albeit happily, and even got some actual reading done on the two-and-a-half hour ride to our next stop of Selçuk.


Photos by the lovely Jiyoung:

The “Red Basilica”, aka the Temple of Serapis. Just look at that Roman brickwork!

Thomas tries to get the perfect shot. The sun is proving problematic.
Eman contemplates the meaning of life.
Turtle friends!

Walking to the Asklepion along the ancient road.

Only you can prevent forest fires.
View of the acropolis from the lower city.
Lucas is ready for adventure.
Marble, marble, everywhere.
Puppies and columns = our favorite things

The TA is all smiles this morning. So many pretty things!

Thomas and Yuhang soak up the sun in the baby theater.
Checking out the cistern.
#photoopp #turkey #tedward
# TheLegend

Group photo time!

Real caryatids and telemons!
I guess this theater is pretty cool.

Chillin' in the theater. Yeah. We cool.




Oct. 21st: Free day!

Ciao tutti!

Today was the first free day of the road trip! After a week of presentations and exploring some amazing archeological sites, most people set out for a day of fun in the sun. Most people headed for the beautiful island of Capri or hung out in the lemon-scented streets of Sorrento. Some adventurous souls even returned to Naples to catch a glimpse of some more churches. The group enjoyed our last supper at the hotel before packing up their belongings for our trip to Turkey tomorrow morning.






The marina in Capri.

So beautiful.

Sunshine and smiles.

Valley of the Mills, Sorrento

Bagni della Regina, Capo di Sorrento

You can just make out the island of Capri in the distance.

Blue water

Excellent view of the bay of Naples

Lemon grove in Sorrento


Oct. 20th: Oplontis, Herculaneum, Mt. Vesuvius

Hello wonderful blog readers!

The first half of our second road trip ended today, but rather than being uneventful it was still packed with excitement. We awoke early and had our customary delicious hotel breakfast and then headed to the train station to go to the Villa of Oplontis. This ancient villa is located in the modern city of Torre Annunziata and honestly is the only reason one should ever step foot in that city.

At the Villa itself, we were treated to a wonderful presentation by Aaron in which we were taken from room to room while he discussed the layout and decoration of the Villa. This Villa may have been owned by Poppea, the second wife of Nero, and contains great examples of second and third style wall paintings. The Villa was enormous – in fact it even had its own bath complex and swimming pool!

After touring the Villa, we headed back to the train station to buy our tickets for Herculaneum. However, upon our arrival, we discovered that the ticket office was closed and the bar across the street only had one ticket left … and no food. Although the idea was tossed around of us just hopping on the train without 14 tickets (Italian public transportation officers never actually ask for your ticket anyway), we decided that we weren't willing to pay the fine if today was the day they decided actually to check for tickets. Therefore, it looked liked we were stuck in Torre Annunziata with Professor Ulrich until our fearless TA Katelyn could make it to Pompeii to buy the rest of our tickets and return. In her absence, a series of bizarre occurrences happened including us running into Umberto, the guard who brought us into all the awesome places in Pompeii earlier this week. Finally, much to our relief, Katelyn returned with discounted tickets and a story of her own to tell.

Our next stop of the day was Herculaneum. This site is different than Pompeii because rather than being covered in ash it was covered in hot mud. As a result, more has been preserved in terms of second stories of buildings, wooden structures, etc in Herculaneum than in Pompeii. We spent about 2 hours exploring the site including many houses, a bath complex, and the main road of the city. However, because the site was covered in hot mud it has been much more difficult to excavate and much of the city has yet to be uncovered.

As our formal lecture was coming to an end, a group of us discovered that the last bus to the top of Mt. Vesuvius was leaving at 3. Upon hearing the news, we immediately sprinted through the entire site of Herculaneum (while getting some weird looks from passing tourists) and uphill to the pick-up point. After a very long and windy thirty minutes, we were dropped off about three quarters of the way up the mountain and then had to hike to the crater. We reached the top after about a thirty minute climb uphill and were not disappointed. The views were incredible both of the surrounding area and of the volcano and crater. The only sign that Vesuvius is still an active volcano was the billows of steam and smoke rising from the crater in front of us. As to be expected we took a multitude of pictures and even brought back a few souvenirs.

Back in Pompeii, we enjoyed another delicious meal at the hotel followed by us all heading to bed early after a very eventful day and week. We are excited to have a free day tomorrow and then we're off to Turkey!

Until next time,



Photos alla Kathleen:

Welcome to the Villa of Poppea. Watch your step.

Aaron Pellowski: FSP expert on the Villa at Oplontis


Engaged columns! woot woot!

Bird with fruit. So cute.

Name that opus!

At this point in the trip, we are all becoming wall painting experts.

The site of Herculaneum!
What happens when hot mud surges into a bath building? The hypocaust floor system collapses!
Second storey? On an ancient house? Inconceivable.

Mosaics! Yeah!

Hike to the summit of the volcano.

The Vesuvius crew.