Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Return to Istanbul part 4

I've just seen the news that 10 people have been killed at Istanbul Atatürk airport. I think there may be extra anger there because this has happened in the holy month. I saw a thing on Al Jazeera news about how Ramadan, particularly the iftar feast at the end of the day, is the best way to counter the image of angry Islam that terrorists are putting about, and that seemed like a good point to me. The hate-filled people who are doing hate-filled things make me so angry I become full of hate too (though, obviously, not to the extent that I'm going to act like them). But I had a really lovely time in Istanbul and remembering the iftar feasts by the Blue Mosque, which were like huge happy picnics, and ought to be the international image of Istanbul, just makes me feel angrier about the people who did this. I still want to go back there again some day; it's one of my favourite cities. I hope things get better for it, and for the Turkish people.

Head of Sappho
This is the last of my posts about this trip. I ran out of both time and oomph to look at sights, so I didn't get to some of the places I'd wanted to go -- I didn't revisit Topkapı Palace, or go to any of the great mosque complexes, or see the museum of Islam and the Sciences. But one of the highlights of my first trip was the Istanbul Archaeological Museum so I was determined to go back there. Unfortunately it turned out to be undergoing renovations. One of the most amazing things, the Alexander Sarcophagus (when I went with Fiona she said it rendered Michelangelo unnecessary) wasn't visible. Some of the smaller highlights had been gathered into a small room, including an amazing head of Sappho, about four feet high.  Last time I went I was very impressed with their display, which was roomy and informative without being oppressive.  They had huge pictures of the artifacts on the walls, which made you notice things you wouldn't otherwise have seen, like a little owl at the feet of a statue of Athena, or the detail of someone's clothing.  When they reopen I hope they do that again, because at the moment their information boards like they were made in the 80s and have been pulled out of storage.

The cats were still playing among the broken columns and statuary in the courtyards, though there were fewer than last time.  I was pleased to find this tombstone for a dog which I remembered from before

The translation of the text (I expect via a Turkish intermediary) said:
His owner has buried the dog Parthenope, that he played with, in gratitude for this happiness.  (Mutual) love is rewarding, like the one for the dog: Having been a friend to my owner, I have deserved this grave:
Looking at this, find yourself a worthy friend who is both ready to love you while you are still alive and also will care for your body (when you die).

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