Biblical Archaeology of the Western Region

Highlights Latmos of Bafa Lake & Miletos, Ephesus and Smyrna, we will explore the ancient world, nature and cultural mystery of early Christian caves discovering 6th-7th century paintings. In the New Testament era, the region was under Roman reign, with the fourth greatest city in the world, Ephesus, where St.Paul visited twice, challenged the Synagogue : “He entered the Synagogue and reasoned with the Jews (Acts 18:19-21)

Topics: Seven Churches of Revelation, St.Paul’s Missionary Journeys, Christian Art, Monasticism

Overview :  4 nights/5 days

Biblio Traveler Advisory Bodrum extension with Mini Blue Voyage: Yacht Cruise; Match Latmos Mountain with St. Paul’s walks for youth Church groups (Latmos requires moderate fitness for hiking)

Highlights: Smyrna with Agora Excavation house visits; brief on the early Christianity related archaelogical findings, Kadifekale excavations.

Strabo says “ This is the most beautiful city in the world”; much later Smyrna was the city to the Bishop of which St.John  wrote his Apocalyptic epistle, the shortest and the least reprehensible of all the Epistles to the Seven Churches of Asia.It does not appear whether St. Paul or St. John first introduced the gospel in to Smyrna.Smyrna is the second of the seven churches listed in the Book of Revelation. It was one of only two churches (the Philadelphia Church Era being the other) that received only praise and no correction from Jesus. The  Smyrna Church became predominent by about 135 AD (the time of the second fall of Jerusalem) though its leadership began to develop a bit prior to this. Here lie the excavations from the ancient city of Smyrna. In the first century Smyrna was a thriving port city of the Roman Empire. And in this community a group of Jesus followers came together as a church – one of seven churches addressed in the beginning of the Book of Revelation, written by the Apostle John, once the young disciple of Jesus Christ. By visiting to major sites, we will be discussing early Christians from Smyrna and how they were slandered, imprisoned, and martyred, as well as the life of St. Polycarp. St. Polycarp , Bishop of Smyrna and Holy Martyr (c.69-c 56) is one of the Apostolic Fathers of the Church, namely one of the early witnesses and teachers of the Apostolic traditions of the Christian Church. The narrative of his martyrdom is the first Christian narrative of a martyrdom outside of the New Testament.

Ephesus According to St. Luke, St. Paul spent two years and three months (Acts 19:8-10) three years (Acts: 20:31) in Ephesus.Obviously, he had chosen Ephesus as his base, keeping in touch with previous foundations believing that churches should reach out to unbelievers:“The missionary outreach of the church of Ephesus is confirmed by the greetings sent by “the churches of Asia” to Corinth (1 Cor 16:19). Paul himself mentions the names of three of these churches: Colossae, Laodicea, and Hierapolis “The church at Ephesus was founded by Paul where he struggled with the Jews, he left his disciples, Priscilla and Aquila there (Acts 18:19). Paul did tremendous work in Ephesus, preaching and teaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. God permitted many miracles to be done through him, including the healing of the sick and casting out of the Demon. Even Sorcerers turned from their evil practices and repented upon witnessing the power of God. As was so often the case, Paul eventually found himself in grave danger from idol worshipers. In one case was that of the pagan God Artemis and those who were in the business of supplying them. Paul exposed their fraud, and in return they nearly killed him in the Great theater.

Miletos Bible mentions that in Paul’s 3rd missionary Journey he met with the elders of the Church of Ephesus at Miletos in 57 AD (Acts 20:15-38). It is believed that Paul stopped by Great Harbour Monument and sat on its steps. He may have met the Ephesian elders there and then bid them farewell on the nearby beach. Miletus is also the city where Paul left Trophimus, one of his travelling companions, to recover from an illness. Paul must have made at least one additional visit to Miletus, perhaps as late as 65 or 66 CE. Paul’s previous successful three-year ministry in nearby Ephesus resulted in the evangelization of the entire province of Asia. It is safe to assume that at least by the time of the apostle’s second visit to Miletus, a fledgling Christian community was established in Miletus. Another visit to Miletus is suggested by 2 Timothy 4:20, which describes Paul leaving Trophimus in Miletus due to illness. Miletus had a Christian bishop by the time of Decius, when St. Thyrsus and his companions were martyred at Miletus. Eusebius, Bishop of Miletus, attended the Council of  Nicea in 325.

Lake Bafa & Latmos with legendary Stylos Monastery The Latmos mountain range borders on the eastern shores of Lake Bafa in South West Turkey and represents one of the most impressive landscapes and archaeological abundance on the Aegean littoral.  Since prehistoric times the Latmos  was one of the sacred mountains in Anatolia. The mystical aura of this local cult was ultimately incorporated by Christians, who erected a cross upon the mountain peak. The Latmos remained a sacred mountain until the end of Medieval times. At that time, it was called “Latros”. Monks driven out of the the Arabic peninsula sought refuge here in the 7th century AD. During the following centuries these groups of hermits grew into a centre on monastic life that was comparable with the Greek community in Athos. This is attested by numerous monasteries and eremite dwellings or prayer rooms decorated with wall paintings. The most outstanding, widely renowned abbot in Latmos was St. Paul the Younger, who lived there in the 10th century AD. His monastery, the Stylos Monastery, where he was also buried, lies below the mountain peak and is known today as “Arap Avlu.” The other most impressive monastic ruins are those of Yediler located near the village of Gölyaka. Wall paintings painted on the overhanging rock cliff near the Yediler Monastery display scenes from the life of Christ. They belong to the highest quality of Byzantine paintings in Latmos and rank equal to those in the capital of the Byzantine empire, Constantinople.