Turkish Odyssey
Turkey Marmara Region

Contents
of this Page

Canakkale Bogazi (The Dardanelles)

. Hero and Leander

. Canakkale Battles (The Gallipoli Campaign)

Canakkale

Troy

. Mythological Story

. Archeological Evidence

. Heinrich Schliemann

Behramkale (Assos)

. History of Assos

. Cleanthes

. The Site

Kaz Dagi(Mount Ida)

Midilli (Lesbos) Island

. Sappho

Marmara Region of Turkey Part 8
İstanbul - Çanakkale (Gallipoli) - Truva (Troy) - Assos Destination

   

CANAKKALE BOGAZI (THE DARDANELLES)

 

The Dardanelles is the 61-km-long (38-mi) strait between the Aegean Sea and the Marmara Sea. It is the westernmost section of the waterway that divides Europe from Asia and connects the Mediterranean and Black seas. The width is 1-6 km / 0.75-4 mi and the average depth is 100 m / 328 ft.

The name Dardanelles comes from Dardanus, mythical ancestor of nearby Troy. It was also called the Hellespont in ancient times. According to ancient writers, in mythology, the name derives from Helle who fell from the back of the golden-fleeced ram while passing through the strait on the way to Colchis in the Black Sea.

Despite unpredictable weather and swift surface currents, the Dardanelles has been a strategic water route and an object of conquest throughout history.

 

Unlike the Bosphorus in Istanbul, there is no bridge today on the Dardanelles. In the 5C BC the Persian King Xerxes built a pontoon bridge which stretched from Abydus to Sestus on his expedition against the Greeks.

Hero and Leander

In mythology Hero and Leander were lovers. Hero, a priestess of Aphrodite, lived in Sestus; Leander lived in Abydus, on the other side of the Hellespont (Dardanelles). Each night, guided by a lamp placed by Hero, Leander swam across the strait to be with her. One night a tempest arose, the lamp was extinguished and Leander drowned; when Hero saw her dead lover she threw herself into the water in despair and lost her life too.

The story is the subject of Christopher Marrow's unfinished poem "Hero and Leander" and Lord Byron's "The Bride of Abydus".

The winds are high on Helle's wave
As on that night of stormy weather
When love, who sent, forgot to save
The young the beautiful the brave
The lonely hope of Sestus' daughter

Actually this legend inspired Lord Byron to swim the Hellespont in 1810. To commemorate this crossing he wrote a poem, "Written After Swimming from Sestus to Abydus".

Canakkale Battles (The Gallipoli Campaign)

1915
Feb. to March Naval attempts to force the Straits
May to July Attempts to expand beachheads in Helles and Anzac; arrival of reinforcement
Sept. to Nov. Static trench warfare with no major attacks by either side
December Evacuation of Anzac and Suvla Bay positions
January 1916 Evacuation of Helles, end of campaign

"Damn the Dardanelles!
They will be our grave."

(Admiral Fisher in letter to Churchill-April 5, 1915)

The Turkish Straits have possessed an enormous strategic importance as a result of the policies adopted by powers in their attempt to reach the high seas and warmer climates or to establish sovereignty over the Middle East.

The Gallipoli campaign of 1915 was an Allied attempt to knock Ottoman Turkey out of World War I and reopen a supply route to Russia. The initial plan, proposed by British Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill, called for an Allied fleet mostly British to force the Dardanelles Strait and then to steam to Constantinople to dictate peace terms. They began the campaign convinced that the Dardanelles would fall in one month.

The Allied fleet began bombarding the Turkish batteries at the entrance to the strait on November 3, 1914. This bombardment continued intermittently until March 12, 1916.

To be able to pass through the strait, it was understood that the lands of Canakkale had to be captured as well. Within this perspective, preparations started on February 16. The principal fortifications were attacked on March 18. Sixteen battleships provided the principal firepower. Three battleships were sunk by an undetected minefield and three others were disabled. The Turks had nearly expended their ammunition, many of their batteries had been destroyed and their fire-control communications were out of action. The Allies, however, did not know this. The attack was called off and ships were withdrawn from the strait.

In the meantime, the Allies had hastily assembled a force of 78,000 men and dispatched it from England and Egypt to Gallipoli. As his flotilla gathered near the peninsula, however, the commanding general, Ian Hamilton, discovered that guns and ammunition had been loaded on separate ships. The transports had to steam to Egypt to be properly loaded for combat. The Turks, now alerted to the Allied plan, used the resulting month's delay to improve their defenses. Some 60,000 Turkish troops, under the German general Otto Liman von Sanders, awaited the Allies.

On April 25, British troops landed at Seddulbahir. ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) troops (at Ariburnu) waded ashore at what they thought was Kabatepe, but it was not. Their boats had drifted a mile north during the night and they landed instead at the bottom of the treacherous ridge. Many soldiers were killed or drowned. A few groups managed to scale the ridge up to Conkbayiri where Mustafa Kemal successfully commanded.

"I do not order you to attack,
I order you to die."

"...It was the last gasp of the battle. On both sides the men had been fighting for three days without sleep and with very little water and food. The trenches behind them were choked with the dead and wounded. The end of the nightmare became more important than the idea of victory. Kemal called out a few words of encouragement to his men as he crawled along.

'Don't hurry. Let me go first. Wait until you see me raise my whip and then all rush forward together.'

He stood up between the opposing trenches. A bullet smashed his pocket watch but he raised his whip and walked towards the British line. Four hours later not an Allied soldier remained on Sari Bayir...."

Simultaneously, on the Asiatic side of the strait at Kumkale, one French division made a diversionary landing and on the neck of the peninsula, a naval force attempted to distract the Turks. The Allied troops were soon pinned down in several unconnected beachheads, stopped by a combination of Turkish defenses and British mismanagement. Losses were high. The Turks ringed the tiny beachheads with entrenchments and the British and Anzac troops soon found themselves involved in trench warfare.

After three months of bitter fighting, Hamilton attempted a second assault on the western side of the peninsula. This assault lacked adequate naval gunfire support; it failed to take any of its major objectives and resulted in heavy casualties. Hamilton was relieved on October 15 and by December 10 his replacement had evacuated the bulk of the troops and supplies. The remaining 35,000 men were withdrawn without the Turks realizing it on January 8-9, 1916. By contrast with the operation as a whole, the withdrawal was a masterpiece of planning and organization, with no loss of life. Estimates of Allied casualties for the entire campaign are about 252,000, with the Turks suffering almost as many casualties an estimated 251,000.

"Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives. You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours.

You, the mothers, who sent their sons from far away countries, wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well."

Above is the letter Ataturk wrote to the Australian people in 1934 which forms proof of his famous motto: "Peace at home, peace abroad".

Back to Marmara
 
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7

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More chapters on places of interest

Aegean

Mediterra-
nean

Central Anatolia

 
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Heroic verses inscribed on a hillside in the Dardanelles, Canakkale
 
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CANAKKALE

 
   
Size 44th largest city in Turkey
Altitude Sea level
Industry Canned food, cement, seafood
Agriculture Grains, sugar beet, tobacco, sunflowers, grapes
Animal husbandry Sheep
History It was founded in the Ottoman Period and continues through the Turkish Republic

The name of the city comes from the shape of the fortress which was built by Sultan Mehmet II in 1452. It has a bowl shape and canak in Turkish is "bowl" and kale is "fort".

Although it is a new city it played an important role during the Canakkale Battles. From the ferryboat on the way to Canakkale, it is possible to see a big inscription on the hillside N of Kilitbahir:

"Dur yolcu! (Stop passerby!)
This soil you thus tread unawares
Is where an age sank.
Bow and listen,
This quiet mound is where the heart of a nation throbs."

 
 
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TROY

 
   
The name Troy refers both to the remains of a Bronze Age fortress and city at Hisarlik, near the entrance to the Dardanelles and to the legendary city of King Priam that was destroyed by the Achaeans in the Trojan War. There are reasons to believe that the physical remains in Troy today correspond to the city in mythology. Troy was also once known as Ilios or Ilion; this is reflected in the name of Homer's epic poem the Iliad, a work that claims to relate the story of Troy's fall.

Mythological Story

According to sources in mythology the King of Troy was Priam and his wife was Hecuba. As a result of the gods and goddesses' plot against Troy, Hecuba dreamed of fire coming out of her stomach and of smoke covering the city walls. A soothsayer interpreted that the queen was pregnant and that the child would bring problems to the city. The interpretation found acceptance and, in order to avoid problems, the baby was left in the forest on Mount Ida where he would be looked after by a shepherd. The baby's name was Paris.

Many years later, Thetis, a sea goddess attended by the Nereids and beloved by both Zeus and Poseidon, married King Peleus. Eris, the goddess of discord and sister of Ares, was not invited to the wedding. She became angry and tossed an apple marked "for the fairest" among the gods causing trouble as they did not know to whom the apple was to be given. Three women were nominated: Athena, Aphrodite and Hera. They consulted Zeus but he recommended them the judgment of Paris who lived on Mount Ida. Each nominee promised something to Paris in order to get the apple. Athena promised victory, Hera, kingship of the world, and Aphrodite, the most beautiful woman. Eventually Paris gave the apple to Aphrodite.

Aphrodite's most beautiful woman was Helen who was married to Menelaus, King of Sparta. Paris fell in love with Helen and abducted her to Troy. This was the reason for the ten-year Trojan War between the Trojans and the Achaeans from the mythological point of view.

Agamemnon was the commander in chief of the Achaeans in the Trojan War. He was the King of Mycenae and a brother of Menelaus. Before coming to Troy, Agamemnon agreed to sacrifice his daughter Iphigenia in order to ensure a fair wind for his ships.

According to Iliad, in the tenth year of the Trojan War, Achilles withdrew from the fighting after Agamemnon seized his favorite slave girl. He sulked in his tent until the death of his close friend Patroclus stirred him to return to battle. The smith-god Hephaestus forged him a fine set of arms, including a famous shield on which was depicted the whole range of the human condition. Thus equipped, he avenged Patroclus's death in a celebrated duel with the great Trojan hero Hector. After dragging Hector's body seven times around the walls of Troy behind his chariot, Achilles was persuaded to allow the slain Trojan hero a proper funeral. Later Paris killed Achilles. When the Achaeans understood that they would not be able to capture the city by war, they decided to prepare a trick. The Achaean fleet sailed out of sight, leaving the Trojan Horse behind as a "gift". Inside the large wooden horse was concealed a squad of soldiers who, after the horse had been dragged into the unsuspecting city and under the cover of darkness, emerged and opened the gates. After the fleet quietly returned, the soldiers entered Troy and great slaughter followed. Many Trojan women, including members of the royal family, were carried off into captivity.

Archeological Evidence

Troy was rediscovered and excavated by Heinrich Schliemann (1870-90). Many excavations have been carried out by different archeologists from different countries. From the evidence recovered by archeologists, there had been settlement in Troy from 3000 BC until 400 AD in nine different layers, each established on the previous layer.

Troy I (3000-2500 BC) The earliest settlement was a small fortress enclosed by a strong wall. Houses were built with foundations of stone and walls of clay brick. The settlers knew of copper but normally used bone and stone for tools and weapons. Most of their surviving possessions were of earthenware pottery. Troy I, like many other ancient settlements, came to its end in a devastating fire.

Troy II (2500-2200 BC) Although only 122 m / 400 ft across, was slightly larger than the preceding settlement and had more massive walls and larger buildings. It was one of the earliest cities in Anatolia to show evidence of town planning. It was wealthier than Troy I; it possessed more gold and silver and made much more use of copper. Its artisans were more advanced; the potter's wheel, for example, appeared at Troy during phase II, when the Trojans were in contact with both the Aegean world to the west and central Anatolia to the east. Troy's power and wealth were probably derived from its strategic position, controlling important trade routes between Asia and Europe. The ruler, his family and their most trusted retainers probably lived in the fortress, whereas the majority of the Trojan people lived in the surrounding countryside, grew grain and other crops, tended livestock and provided troops when required. Troy II, like Troy I, suffered catastrophic devastation by fire.

Troy III, IV, V (2200-1800 BC) Although the character of the fortress was preserved throughout these three periods, this era was undistinguished and of minor importance.

Troy VI (1800-1275 BC) A city established by newcomers with well-constructed walls. This phase was the high point of Troy's history. The area enclosed by the citadel was then about 230 m / 750 ft across, with finely crafted stone walls and stoutly fortified gates. Once again, the rulers of Troy occupied a position of power and importance in relation to the neighboring Aegean and Anatolian peoples. It was destroyed by earthquake.

Troy VIIa (1275-1240 BC) Resettled by the survivors of Troy VI, depended on the same fortifications. Its houses were crowded together; many had large storage jars sunk beneath the floors. Sewage system pipes dating from this period can be seen in the main street that goes to the southern gate. Just to give an idea to compare with Athens, at that time there was no Athens and even in the golden years of Athens (4-3C BC) there was no sewage system.

The impression is that of a community under stress, possibly like Priam's citadel, the siege of which features in the Iliad and other stories of the Trojan War. According to tradition, Troy fell in 1184 BC. The archaeological evidence supports a date of about 1200 BC for the destruction of Troy VIIa.

Troy VIIb (1200-1100 BC) Resettlement followed on a small scale.

Troy VIII (700-350 BC) Troy in this period appeared to be a small market town.

Troy IX (350 BC-400 AD) During this phase Troy was a Hellenistic and Roman city.

Heinrich Schliemann (1822-1890)

A pioneer in field archaeology, the German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann is best known for his excavations at ancient Troy and Mycenae. Schliemann was largely self-educated. Because his family was poor, he had to leave school at the age of 14 to earn a living. He continued studying on his own, however, showing an exceptional ability in mastering foreign languages. He soon began to exploit his remarkable aptitude for business dealings, which enabled him to amass a large fortune early in life and to retire at the age of 41. From then on, he devoted himself to archaeology. He began to dig at Troy, his most famous excavation, in 1870.

Schliemann has been criticized for using methods that seem crude by comparison with the techniques of today. He also has been criticized for being a treasure hunter rather than an archeologist. The moment he found the so-called treasures of King Priam, he left the excavation with the treasures.

According to some he deserves great credit, however, for creating methods where none had existed previously and for demonstrating that excavation can be more than a mere treasure hunt that it can, in fact, restore a knowledge of lost civilizations.

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Wooden Horse, an adaptation to mythological Trojan Horse, Troy
 
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BEHRAMKALE (ASSOS)

 
   
 

Assos was an ancient harbor city which was also famed due to the stay of the philosopher Aristotle for three years as the head of a philosophy school. The Stoic philosopher Cleanthes was from Assos too. Lesbos Island in the Aegean Sea can be seen from here on clear days. Though it is not visited by many foreigners Assos is well known and has many of its archeological finds exhibited in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Louvre in Paris and the Museum of Archeology in Istanbul. With its natural appearance and exotic atmosphere rather than its historical background, Assos has recently become very popular among Turkish people.

History of Assos

Mythologically, Assos was the capital of the Lelegians before the arrival of Aeolians who colonized Assos and made it their harbor in c. 1000 BC. As with all other cities in western Anatolia, Assos went through the Lydian, Persian, Alexander the Great, Pergamene, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman periods.

Notably in the 4C BC Assos was ruled by Hermias, one of Plato's students and a despot, who came to be known as the Tyrant of Atarneus. In order to establish a Platonic state there, Hermias invited a number of scholars among which was Aristotle, who married the Tyrant's niece. During the Persian conquest Hermias was executed and Aristotle had to leave Assos for Lesbos.

On his missionary journeys, Paul sailed from Assos. His visit to the harbor city of Assos strengthened the early Christian colony there.

Cleanthes (c. 331-232 BC)

He was a Stoic philosopher who proposed a form of materialistic Pantheism. He was one of the first philosophers to maintain that the sun was the central body in the cosmos. This concept was revived in the 16C by Copernicus. Cleanthes proclaimed that the universe and God, or the vivifying ether of the universe, are ultimately one and the same.

The Site

It consists of an acropolis with an inner defensive wall, a lower town with an outer wall, a harbor below the lower town and a necropolis outside. At the center of the acropolis in the inner walls was a 6C BC Doric Temple of Athena with Ionic influences. It is an andesite temple in antis with 13 by 6 columns. Five of its Doric columns are standing today. The Temple of Athena is the only surviving example of Doric architecture in Anatolia. With some materials from the temple and other buildings an Ottoman mosque was built in the 14C. The cross in relief and an inscription in Greek show that either the stones were taken from a nearby Byzantine church or the building was converted into a mosque from a church. The dome has a diameter of 11 m / 36 ft.

The other remains are from the Hellenistic period and scattered below the acropolis facing the sea, among which are an agora, a gymnasium, a small temple, a theater and a bouleterion. The necropolis was outside the city and contained many sarcophagi made of local Assos stone. This stone was very appropriate as it accelerated the decomposition of the flesh. The word sarcophagus derives from the local stone of Assos.

Below the acropolis to the north a 14C AD Ottoman Harpusta Bridge can be seen which crosses the Tuzla stream.

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Ottoman Harpusta Bridge, 14C AD, Assos
 
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KAZ DAGI (MOUNT IDA)

 
   
Kaz Dagi is located near the Edremit Bay between Ayvacik and Edremit. Kaz Dagi, also named Karatas Tepesi is 1774 m / 5,820 ft. It is a mountain nearly as popular as Olympus in mythology. Its fame is due to the first mythological beauty contest in the world which was held there under the judgment of Paris. In mythology, the Gods also watched the Trojan War from the top of Mount Ida.  
 
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MIDILLI (LESBOS) ISLAND

 
   
Lesbos, a modern Greek island in the Aegean Sea which can be seen from Assos or Ayvalik regions within less than 25 km / 15 mi from the coast, covers 1,630 sq km / 630 sq mi and has a population of more than 100 thousand people. Mytilene is the largest city on the island. By the 7C BC the island was a notable cultural center and home of the poet Sappho.

Sappho

A famous poet who became popular between 610-580 BC. In most of her poems she wrote about her love for other women so she was regarded as a homosexual. As she was from Lesbos island she was called "Lesbian" and when this word was associated with her so-called homosexuality, it started to stand for female homosexuality.

In the ancient world, sentimental poems were read with the music of lyres and since those times, poems of this kind have been called lyrical poems.

"That man seems to me on a par with the gods who
sits in your company and listens to you so close to
him speaking sweetly and laughing sexily, such a
thing makes my heart flutter in my breast, for when I
see you even for a moment, then power to speak
another word fails me, instead my tongue freezes into
silence and at once a gentle fire has caught
throughout my flesh and I see nothing with my eyes,
and there is a drumming in my ears and sweat pours
down me and trembling seizes all of me and I become
paler than grass and I seem to fail almost to the point
of death in my very self."

 
 
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Contents
of this Page

Canakkale Bogazi (The Dardanelles)

. Hero and Leander

. Canakkale Battles (The Gallipoli Campaign)

Canakkale

Troy

. Mythological Story

. Archeological Evidence

. Heinrich Schliemann

Behramkale (Assos)

. History of Assos

. Cleanthes

. The Site

Kaz Dagi(Mount Ida)

Midilli (Lesbos) Island

. Sappho