We have been having an amazingly busy past couple of weeks. There is so much to tell about what we have been discovering on our surveys. However, I promised a part two to our Antakya coverage. Also, since we have now moved down into the city of Iskenderun and will have more access to the internet, consider this the first step to our catching up.
I believe I left off with our visit to Tayinat and Alalakh. From those two sites, we departed for the city of Antakya (ancient Antioch). Our first stop in Antakya was St. Peter’s Cave, which supposedly housed Peter’s church during his time in the city. We managed to be there on the annual celebration of St. Peter’s birthday. It was a surprisingly small gathering, but nice. We did not know much about the celebration either before or after, but I can report hearing prayers and speeches in Turkish, Italian, and Hebrew, among others.
Below is a picture of the proceedings. The cave is located behind the constructed façade on the bottom left of the picture. Just in front of the cave is the lectern.
While Dr. Killebrew and a few others went to run errands in the city, the rest of us decided to climb the mountain above the cave. Out of all the pictures I took that day, none of them managed to actually have a full view of that particular mountain. However, below is a picture of the mountain right next door as we approached the festival.
On the way up the mountain, we came across the following carving.
The local tradition says that this is a representation of Charon, the boatman who takes the dead across the River Styx. However, in truth, it most likely is a representation of 2nd Century CE king Antiochus Epiphanes. He is actually not supposed to be the veiled figure, but is standing on that figure’s right shoulder. You can see most easily his shoulders and neck on the stone separated from the main head by a fissure or crack.
Following our hike, we headed into downtown Antakya for their mosaic museum. Below are a few pictures representing only a fraction of all the mosaics displayed there. When looking at these pictures, keep in mind that these gigantic mosaics are all made out of tesserae about a centimeter across.
That was it for that particular day. However, a few days later, we returned to Antakya to get our residency permits. Below is a picture of one of the main drags in town.
Stay tuned for more posts as we get them ready.