Educational Travel in Turkey

Educational trips in Turkey are a pleasant opportunity for Classical students to see important and impressive sites in the ancient world. The large complex at Ephesus, including the Celsus Library, will surely be blown away, while excavations at Troy raise questions about archeological practices. The city of Istanbul is a completely different experience: a multicultural city that develops in the active continuation of multi-millennial history at the crossroads of culture.

Ephesus – Near 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.

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.

Troy – Troy 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.

Istanbul – Unlike Troy, which is located in ruins, Istanbul is a thriving city with a history reaching back to the ancient world. Educational trips to Istanbul can bring students to Hagia Sofia, which brings about a change in religion in the city; allows them to walk through the Hippodrome; and went under the city to the Cistern Byzantine Basilica with its three hundred thirty-six columns. The two columns in the northwest corner of the reservoir, with the face of the Gorgon, are the most extraordinary individually, but the enormity of the structure is the most amazing feature. It was only one of several hundred ancient water tanks under the city. Modern Istanbul above these ancient rooms shows students what happens when an ancient site does not disappear from use.