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Lycian rock tombs in MYRA c500-400 BC – All golden & saffron & ochre rock in the green & grey hillside. — “House” tombs – Each with its black square hole from looters —- Somewhere a hillside has slid over & hidden a Lycian tomb Somewhere a Lycian king still sleeps—— Squint at any hill and you see the black specs of looted tombs. Here’s a close look at them: square-cut Lycian tombs, carved in golden rock, ornament the hill over the ruined Roman arches of the theater built centuries later. This drawing done in 20 minutes standing bolt-upright in the singing heat was embellished much later, but the mood still prevails


So many tombs – So little time — I don’t know his name but he gave us a ride into town in his ancient rattley old truck — MYRA – Chunks of a Roman theater under Lycian tombs — It’s about 120º in the shade — Carved stone theater masks— Southern Turkey is full of tumbled chunks of Rome.——

Theater at Xanthos


NOEL BABA* in MYRA. St Nick! 4thCentury AD: A wealthy man who gave all to the poor – A girl wished to marry & had no dowry – to save her pride he put the money in her shoes – through the window as she slept. — His chalky pale Byzantine church — Restoration has a ways to go here — A Russian icon of ST NICHOLAS—- *Father Christmas — A smashed stone sarcophagus with the familiar tall-hatted “Father Christmas” shape & a sign in 4 languages: “Italians stole his body in 1007 AD…”—— Drawn in the church Justinian built to St Nicholas in the 6thCentury, augmented later with the Santa that Haddon Sundblom created in the 1930s for Coca-Cola.


“The cab turned down a hill and I saw the toothed ridge of old wall.  We came around a bend and there was the jagged theater crater and some high capstone sarcophagi; then we came all the way around and I saw it, a city entire all ruined on the hill, excavations for fifty years, ringed with walls in disrepair, chunked rock and old rooms and carvings and columns overgrown with bushes and trees.  Much of Xanthos has been spirited away to various museums worldwide but there is plenty of fabulous pitted glory left there in situ: Lycian and Roman with Byzantine overtones.  It was so hot in all the ruins that I’d taken to putting my whole head under the restroom tap just before we left each one.  It was always sweaty-dried by the next stop. I had a sarong and a big hat, so I broke off some dead reeds and jammed them into the steps going down to ancient baths overlooking the olive groves and the power lines in the distance.  There were cicadas buzzing in a gasping chorus in the heat.  I draped the sarong over my hat and the sticks and thought of Lawrence of Arabia. This gave just enough shade to endure drawing for about twenty minutes.  Sweat ran down my face and dripped on the page.  I  looked at the drawing.  It was enough to go on.”—— email to a friend, summer 2000.

Sweat running off me in rivers & splashing on the page. The sun hurts where it touches me —- ‘We made our homes graves and our graves are home to us / Our homes burned down / And our graves were looted / We climbed to the summits / We went deep in to the earth / We were drenched in water / They came and got us / They burned and destroyed us / They plundered us / And we, for the sake our our mothers, our women / And for the sake of our dead / And we, in the name of our honor / And our freedom / We the people of this land / Who sought mass suicide / We left a fire behind us, Never to die out…” —The Epic of Xanthos, anon.

“This is the fabled city where the Xanthians, finding themselves in 500-something BCE overwhelmed by Persian hordes, slaughtered all their loved ones: wives and concubines, parents, children and slaves– by ringing the walled city with fire and burning everyone alive.  Then the warriors put on their armor, charged fighting into the Persian waves and were killed to the last man. Yet the city rose again, and again was besieged, this time in 42 BCE by Brutus, as in Et tu Brutus.  The Romans would not go away and the Xanthians would not give up and finally the horrified Romans saw a woman with her dead baby slung around her neck torching her roof as she hanged herself.  “Enough!” called Brutus and offered a substantial reward for any Roman to save a live Lycian…

“Nevertheless they are all gone now.  Only the cities and tombs remain, square rock faces shining gold and bronze and red in the gray sides of mountains, all tumbled with emerald and jade bushes.  Gray-green leaves mist around the black sticks of olive trees parading down the bright meadows, gold in the afternoon sun. Gothic-arch-topped barrels of sarcophagi rise up like great stone mushrooms in forests, on mountaintops, on the edges of towns and amphitheaters and in the middle of the main street of Kaş, each with its looted black hole.  If I were a Lycian I would never ever want to leave, either. I would tell them to put me on the hill over the sea, and I would arrange an earthquake to hide my tomb to keep them from coming later and stealing my bones and jewelry.  Squint at any hill here and there’s a tomb.  Surely some must be hidden, and the Lycians sleeping inside, undisturbed bones clothed in the splendor they deserve for keeping this kingdom so long and so well.” — email to a friend, summer 2000.


Eternal woman walking by the side of the road — Is this how I looked in my lives here? — Carob munchy — Theater chunk in Perge — Durmuş Gükcer — Lycian tomb at theater in Xanthos — 2 Mustafas, 2 Durmuşes


Workmen excavating Xanthos- Drawn from a photograph in hospital weeks later (7 September) while the Shitstorm Angels kick up a fuss & I wonder what fresh hell awaits me tonight—— An all-time favorite portrait. On my kitchen wall for decades.


Field above the ruined temple @ Letoon — Me, 3 weeks & one knee ago—— I remember drawing this from a photo in hospital, crying in pain, self-pity and horror, feeling I was being punished for leaving my husband.

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