Educational Travel in Turkey for Classics Students

Educational travel in Turkey is an exciting opportunity for Classics students to see important, impressive sites of the ancient world. The large complex at Ephesus, including the Library of Celsus, is sure to awe, while the excavations at Troy provoke questions of archaeological practice. The city of Istanbul is a different experience entirely: a thriving multicultural city in active continuation of its multi-millennia history at the crossroads of cultures.EphesusNear present-day Selçuk in the Ä°zmir Province of western Turkey, Ephesus is a renowned archaeological site and an essential stop on any educational travel itinerary of the country. The area has been inhabited for at least eight thousand years and may first be mentioned in writing in Hittite sources, which mention a city of Apasa (or Abasa) under the control of the Ahhiyawans (most likely the name used by Hittites to refer to the Achaeans, ie: the early Greeks) in the mid-2nd millennium BC. The city grew and prospered in the Greek, Hellenistic and Roman eras, and it was in the latter that the Library of Celsus was constructed, in honour of the Senator Tiberius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus.

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Students visiting the site on their educational travel will find the Library of Celsus impressive: a two-storey façade has been reconstructed from surviving pieces, providing a strong impression of the building’s original impact. A single column now represents the Temple of Artemis, once a Wonder of the Ancient World, but the sprawling scale of the site will give students a strong taste of the ancient site.TroyTroy is arguably one of the most controversial archaeological sites: the site of a literary war, the historicity of which continues to be debated, and clumsily excavated by Heinrich Schliemann in the 19th century. His desire to find Homeric Troy led him to garb his wife in golden jewellery and destroy parts of the site. There are many layers of ruins at Troy, representing millennia of occupation: an excellent example of educational travel giving students the opportunity to see the complexity of archaeological sites and discuss excavation methodologies and practice.

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IstanbulUnlike Troy, which lies in ruin, Istanbul is a thriving city with a history reaching back into the ancient world. Educational travel to Istanbul can take students to the Hagia Sofia, which embodies the changing religions of the city; allow them to wander through the Hippodrome; and go under the city to the Byzantine Basilica Cistern with its three hundred and thirty-six columns. Two columns in the north-west corner of the cistern, with the faces of Gorgons, are the most individually remarkable, but the enormity of the structure is its most awe-inspiring feature. It is just one of several hundred ancient cisterns under the city. Modern Istanbul atop these ancient spaces shows students what happens when an ancient site does not fall out of use.