Sunday, October 4, 2009

Pictures of Zeyrek

Here are some pictures from our neighborhood, Zeyrek. They are to go along with Hayden's post.

The view as we headed up the hill.

A family we tried to speak to.. (they didn't know English.)

Continuing up the hill to Zeyrek.

Two of the many children that wanted their photo taken. (Dr. Mallery in the background).

Me with the mothers who were knitting.

Andy with our "tour guides."

Hayden with one of the more lively boys.

Leading us around..

Entering the tomb area.

One of the wooden houses as seen from the tomb area.

One of the more decayed wooden houses.

Another wooden house that was falling apart.

Tombstones in the graveyard. (Note the fez!)
One of the boys soon to be circumcised.

"Money! MONEY!" (The part where they demanded payment.)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Zeyrek Neighborhood Project

Nilmini, Nolan, Andy, and I, were assigned to an old neighborhood which had some wooden houses. These are in great disrepair and are crumbling as the government waits to decide what to do with them. We were supposed to explore the area and talk to the locals about life in their neighborhood. Particularly, we were looking for the boundaries of where they call home. It was a good thing that Dr. Mallery came with us because we did not find anyone who spoke English. After eating lunch at Zeyrek cafe, we walked up the hill in our neighborhood, and we immediately met a large group of kids. They were sitting around their mothers who were knitting. They were all so friendly and wanted us to take pictures of and with them. They agreed to show us around their neighborhood, and excitedly grabbed our hands. We at first asked them to take us to the local mosque, Zeyrek camii, and so they pointed in the direction and started running toward it. They took us past some tombs where some locals had gathered for a picnic. We then saw a group of Sunnet boys who were preparing for their circumcision ceremony later that day by praying at the tombs for courage. Most of the tombs either had a fez or turban on them, left over from the old Ottoman empire. The boys had bright gold capes on that were trimmed with white, as well as scepters. Next our small tour guides agreed to show us to the mosque, only it was closed for restoration. On the way we passed through a small market, with booths that sold scarves. One of the boys pulled a stake out of one of the booth’s tents and the vendor scolded him. We resumed going up the hill to the mosque, and passed a tomb of a holy man. The kids stopped with arms outstretched to say a prayer. They motioned to Dr. Mallery and Nilmini to be sure to cover their heads as we went back up the hill in the neighborhood. As we re-entered the community, a loud firecracker went off in someone’s yard that made a very startling sound. The kids were all shouting and leading us on. They led us into another tomb of some holy men, and told us to be quiet. Finally they decided they had come to the end of their definition of the neighborhood, and they had to go home. They suddenly surrounded us, asking for money, and we took out a few lira to give them. As soon as we had done that, they swarmed us and wanted even more. They would not let us go until they had gotten some. They would pass coins off to their friends to make it look like they had not gotten any. They mobbed us and grabbed our arms hoping to grasp a coin. Finally I had to throw the coins above their heads into the street so that we could get away. We continued in the neighborhood and stopped for a drink at a man’s shop. He told us he considered the border of the neighborhood to be close, and so we decided to follow the streets around. We had essentially arrived at the edge of the neighborhood, and decided to continue up the hill to the Camii Fatih. We now considered the boundaries of the neighborhood and planned how we would eventually map it out.
(Hayden Cale)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Nisantasi Neighborhood Report

NEIGHBORHOOD DAY – 28 August 2009

Today was our day to do the neighborhood project. We went with Dr. Mallery to Nisantasi, a wealthy part of Istanbul. We had to take a tram, then a Funiculer, then the Metro to get to it from Sultanahmet. On the way there, we also happened to lose our purple folder with instructions for what to do today. So it was a great start! We had no idea what to do. So Dr. Mallery briefed us on what to do when we got there and showed us around a little bit so we can get a rough picture of the area. Good thing we still had the map.

After arriving at Nisantasi, we stopped to get a cup of coffee at the Starbucks at City’s, a high-end neighborhood mall. After a cup of coffee, we started on our assignment right away. We talked to different people, inside and outside City’s. Inside, we talked to 2 ladies selling stuff toys. One was a student working in her summer vacation and the other one was the regular employee looking over this particular store. Their company was located by the Grand Bazaar. She told us that a lot of people here spoke English because it was where the rich Turks lived and where the rich tourists shopped. The majority of the workers of this mall did not live in Nisantasi but commuted from adjacent neighborhoods.

Outside the mall, we talked to a couple of musicians who played outside the stores on the street. One played a tenor saxophone and the other one trumpet. They were part of a band. They said that they were from the Asian side of Istanbul and they commute here two or three days a week to play. After talking to them they played some jazz for us.

From our observations, there were a lot of businessmen on the streets and a lot of people on their phones. It seemed a lot busier and more money-oriented. People don’t sit around in front of their stores just relaxing or talking to a friend. We also noticed that very few women here wore headscarves. Nasantasi was basically a fancy shopping neighborhood. Where the brand name shops stopped, that was the borders of Nisantasi. We found that out after asking a dozen people everywhere we went. When the person did not speak English, we would try to use body language to help. When the person we approach did not speak English, we would point to the ground and say “Nisantasi?” If we got an affirmative answer, we would continue by pointing up or down the street saying “Nisantasi?” It was quite successful to find out the borders of neighborhood. However, people were less likely to converse with us extensively because they were on their way to some place or busy doing something. The people who seemed not too busy did not speak much English.

As we continued looking for people to talk to, we walked by a mosque during its Friday afternoon service. There were several things that we found strange. First, they all sat outdoors on mats facing the Imam and Mecca. All the other mosques we visited the prayer services were inside. Another thing that struck us as odd was that, all the visible worshippers were male. That made sense; women don’t prayer in the same area as men. But when the service ended and the worshippers filed out of the gates, we couldn’t spot any women. Our final observation was that all the worshippers coming from the mosque were walking away from Nisantasi.

We stopped for lunch at a Chicago Pizza place (the neighborhood did not have Turkish food, only international food). Here, we got to talk to the owners of the restaurant. The wife of the owner spoke sufficient English to communicate with us. She grew up in Nisantasi. Later in life she moved to another town to live there for 10 years. Then she moved back to Nasantasi with her husband and they've been living here for 15 years. She said that she liked Nisantasi because of the shopping. It seemed to us that this family was pretty well off because they own another house in the outskirts of Istanbul. They go that house for vacation and such.

After lunch we walked around a little more, we ended up in a park on the Nisantasi border. In the park was a semi-circle of busts of past sultans and of course Ataturk. Facing the semi-circle was a 25 foot statue of Ataturk. There were a couple of old guys just hanging out, there were a few mothers with their children, an older woman feeding birds. It was a pretty peaceful place on the border of one of the city’s busier districts.

As we walked back towards the metro we thought about how it seemed like we had stepped out of the Turkey we’d experienced over the past few days and stepped into 5th Ave. in New York. The honking of taxis, the businessmen on their phones, and fast paced, goal oriented people were such a contrast from the friendly shop owners offering us “good prices” and the stray cats longing to be petted we experienced in Sultanahmet.

-Nikki, David, and Sterling

Monday, September 14, 2009

Yes, we arrived home safely

Someone asked me today whether the trip is done and everyone is home, so I figured I had better post one more update. Fifteen of the sixteen students returned to the US and are moving on to their next projects (most are getting ready for the new school year to begin). The sixteenth student will be studying in Europe this fall, and arrived safely at the host university. Two of the three trip chaperons are also home in the US. Dr. Clark went directly to Jordan to work with some of his archaeology colleagues there for a week, but will be home soon.

We would like to thank all of our readers for your support and encouragement during the trip. It's nice to know that people at home care about what we're doing. I will probably make one more post to the blog later this week if I can figure out an exact version of the recipe for the bread that Amanda and I learned to bake. Unfortunately the recipe we got was along these lines, "Well, you put in some flour and yogurt and a bit of water ...." It ended with baking the bread for five minutes in the oven, but no one could tell me how hot the oven should be other than that they could let me look in and feel how hot it was. So this will take some experimentation. I think the idea of having an exact recipe for something was quite foreign to the people we talked with, so I'm going to try to create something that Americans would find a little more user-friendly. If I'm able to replicate what they made (and that's definitely not a "sure thing") I'll pass it on to all of you. We've already tried searching on the internet and haven't come up with anything.

Monday, September 7, 2009


So it’s the last day and I finally get to blog. I must admit that this is a very emotional moment for me… we’ve had so many beautiful moments here in Turkey. My keyboard is damp with tears as I write. My only regret is Dr. Mallery leaving us without any warning. Why would she leave us?! As we students have wrestled with this issue, I’ve been thinking about how she always told us to look for the hidden curriculum. With this is mind, David, Alex, and I decided that the only possible explanation is that she is a super hero. Perhaps Wonder Woman? But where would she stash her invisible plane? She must have been called away to save innocent people at the last minute and didn’t have time to warn us. If this be the case, God Speed Dr. Mallery, God Speed.


BUS TRIP!!!!! We drove from Cappadocia to Ankara today... on a bus. The landscape looked like Central California, flat and baron with a few hills. I’m sorry if you live in Central California, but seriously there’s nothing there. You should move. The Bay Area is nice this time of year.


Our first stop, once we’d reached Ankara, was the Mustafa Kemal Ataturk Mausoleum. If you don’t know who Ataturk is, he’s basically the father of Turkey and a mix between George Clooney, Superman, and Chuck Norris. If that one doesn’t work for you, he’s like Lennon mixed with the Savior sprinkled with John Wayne. He’s respected like a religious figure. On November 10th at the exact hour of his death, the whole country stops, buses pull over, business stops, and five minutes of silence is observed. He’s a war hero, politician, and legend. Turkish Superman wears Ataturk pajamas.

His burial sight looks like a huge Roman temple complete with a courtyard and underground museum. The path to the mausoleum is lined with stone lions and guarded by color guard from the Turkish Army, Navy, and Air Force. Like I said, he’s the man. His museum contains his stuffed dog, shaving set, medals, and paintings of famous battles during Turkish war for independence. My favorite of these depicted an epic battle where Ataturk stands at the highest point on the field calmly smoking a cigarette while cannons and rifles go off around him. When I grow up I want to be just like Ataturk.


Turkish Fanta tastes funny.


Next we went to the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations. There where lots of nice broken pots and sculptures but no labels to be found. This forced me to make my own conclusions on what things might be. For instance, this sculpture depicts Eros the god of love. The hole through his middle however was inflicted by a Nazi bullet aimed at Indiana Jones as he swung to safety on his whip yelling, “THIS BELONGS IN A MUSEUM!!!” I love archeology.


Well now I think I’ll rest my imagination and get some sleep. Tomorrow we wake up at five o’clock in order to leave at five thirty so we can catch a plane to Istanbul. From there we fly to Munich then L.A. Everyone here is doing well except for a few feeling a bit sick, but we’ll see you all tomorrow night.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Konya photos

Nikki's post described the group's time in Konya. Here are some photos of Konya. The first photo is of the tomb of the Mevlana. The interesting thing about this mosque/tomb is that it is officially a museum, but it's also a site of pilgrimage and worship for many sufis. So visitors mingle with worshippers, who are technically not supposed to be worshipping in a museum. The green tower is directly above the tomb of the Mevlana (Rumi).

This is a street scene of Konya. The atmosphere is very different from Istanbul.

This is a picture of the inside of the Alaattin mosque, that Nikki described in her post about Konya.

Nikki also mentioned the "forest of pillars" on the inside of the mosque. Here's a photo of that:
Wish I had some photos with this group in them. Photos of the group, anyone?

Pictures of Cappadocia

Here are some photos of Cappadocia to illustrate some of what Nolan described in his post. Note that I'm not with the group, so these are photos I took last year. Maybe one of the group members will be able to post some photos from this year, but at least you'll have an idea of what they are seeing from these pictures.
This is what Nolan is calling a "fairy chimney." He described the geology in his post, so I won't reiterate it here, but this will give you a good idea of what they look like. This one hasn't been carved to make a home or other building in it.

Here's a scene of some homes carved out of the rock. Many of these are still inhabited, though the government has been making people move out of them as part of an effort to preserve them.

This is a fresco in one of the churches in Goreme. The churches in this area are carved out of the soft rock, and many of the frescoes are still in fairly decent shape (except that the eyes are scratched out of many of them - depiction of people is forbidden in Islam).