Reflections on the Trip of a Lifetime: Day 13 Assos, Alexander Troas, Troy
Assos, Alexander Troas, Troy
Today we visited three sites, and all were impressive. It was another big day for all of us. He didn’t let on, but I reckon it must have been a long day for Bariş, too. He did a fantastic job!
On this map, Assos is the southernmost site, then we came north to Troas, then further north to Troy.
Assos is mentioned in Acts 20. Paul sailed from here to Mitylene, Chios, then on to Miletus, which is just beyond Ephesus. Luke and his companions arrived at Assos and met Paul there, having come from Troas.
We went ahead to the ship and set sail for Assos, intending to take Paul on board there; for he had made this arrangement, intending to go by land himself. When he met us in Assos, we took him on board and went to Mitylene. We sailed from there, and on the following day we arrived opposite Chios. The next day we touched at Samos, and the day after that we came to Miletus. For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus, so that he might not have to spend time in Asia; he was eager to be in Jerusalem, if possible, on the day of Pentecost.
– Acts 20:13-16
These were the points on Paul’s voyage. Remember that you can zoom the map if you like.
We went up to the acropolis, where we saw the remains of the Temple of Athena, which was impressive, but we hardly spent any time admiring it because the view was so spectacular! The island of Lesbos is immediately across the water from Assos, and the whole landscape was completely spellbinding.
The town which now exists on the side of the very steep hill, was quaint and appealing. We had lunch there, of barbecued sea bass. It was exquisite! Some of the group were nervous about eating fish, for fear of bones, so we shared techniques for avoiding the problem. This opened up a whole culinary category for a couple of people, and their first foray into fish was a real treat.
It seemed, as we pulled in, that all we were going to see here was the little harbour where Paul and his companions set sail from. But there was much, much more!
We went up the hill behind, and explored an excavation site.
The Turkish site manager didn’t speak much English, but managed to show us that this frieze was depicting the shape of the leaves of a local tree. He picked one up and placed it next to the frieze to show us.
Meanwhile, Bariş was being a very good sport, posing for a photograph with this canon ball… being a tour guide takes a special kind of person.
We then went further up the hill, to a site which is now beginning to be excavated. These arches are standing despite numerous earthquakes over the centuries, but soon they will get reinforced with scaffolding for safety so we were told to get our pictures now!
This building is a bath complex.
There is nothing about this horse that commends it as being anything like the legendary Trojan Horse, except perhaps that it is, after all, a big wooden horse that people can fit inside. If something like this had turned up outside the gates of Troy, it most certainly would have been burned down, not brought inside!
The real Trojan Horse (if there ever was one), would only have needed to be about the size of a real horse, or a little bigger – big enough to fit one or two men inside, who would open the gates of the city after dark. This one’s for the tourists…
Bariş had asked us to lower our expectations of the site before we arrived, but I found it fascinating. It’s true that we had seen lots of sites by this stage, and this one was not really much different, but it still held lots of fascination value, and a couple of “wow”s.
The city has been rebuilt many times throughout its many thousands of years, through many civilisations rising and falling. The archaeologists talk about 9 “Troys”, which are the nine identifiable stages in history that can be discerned in their digs. In this picture there are labels on various blocks and other features, that have been identified as III, IV, IX, etc. I found that fascinating.
The ramp to the city is in remarkable condition.
This is what it would have looked like in the day.
Insofar as Troy was much like other sites, it served to underscore what our Greek guide had told us way back in Athens: Every Greco-Roman city had these certain features: Agora, Odeon, Baths, Stoa, Temple, Acropolis, and so forth.
This is the Odeon. Out the front, a stoa. Directly opposite (not in view here), baths.
Engagement with the Text
The text for the day was Acts 16, with a focus on verses 6-10
They went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. When they had come opposite Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them; so, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. During the night Paul had a vision: there stood a man of Macedonia pleading with him and saying, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’ When he had seen the vision, we immediately tried to cross over to Macedonia, being convinced that God had called us to proclaim the good news to them.
– Acts 16:6-10
It was marvellous to put real, concrete places to these names. The New Testament locations in Turkey will never again be simply a fog of labels to me. The whole trip has provided me with an added dimension of appreciation for these narratives.
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Press on with these bro. They’ve been a great read.
Thanks for that. I’m enjoying it! It’s a lot of work, but I think it’s really worth it.
It’s so hard for me! I’ve just been straight back into ministry. Not complaining, I love it. But you know, priorities.
Yep. I get it 🙂