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We will send regular newsletters to our members who have signed up for receiving it during the registration. In 'mymerhaba' newsletter, our editorial staff provides updates, with regard to any information related to places worth visiting, viewing, or otherwise worth knowing, for those who care to know more....

Catalhoyuk & Aksehir Adventures

 Untitled Document

by Fred Moore - November 2006

New discoveries await us. We're off to the Konya area to visit Catalhoyuk and Aksehir. As we travel north into the mountains signs of winter greet us. We've taken the autobahn and gotten well past Pozanti into the village of Ulukisla where the roads intersect for Konya and Cappadocia. It has snowed here in the not too distant past; there's standing snow in the shadows of many buildings. The Taurus Mountains are covered with a beautiful blanket of white; from this distance, the snow is postcard perfect.

Here's the village of Sakyatan and we've just driven right past the little brown historic sign for Catalhoyuk, our first desired stop on this trip. We make a U-turn not far up the road and back track to make the turn taking us out into the countryside; we're off down a winding gravel road. Now the sign indicates we must proceed along a concrete irrigation canal. There's a dirt road on both sides of the canal. This is a road that has much to be desired; the recent rains have left it with some 'soft' areas. I hesitate in the use the word 'road' because it so poorly defines this 'cow path' we're following. It seems to go and go and go and the signs direct us first this way then that. There's NO mound in sight on either side of this track for as far as the eye can see. We're on an agricultural plain and our line of sight is quite far. Catalhoyuk is a historic site Carol and I visited some twenty years ago so we have little recollection of where we are or what to look for. I'm simply looking for an enlarged hump in the countryside. It's about all I remember from so many years ago.

We continue our drive through this vast agricultural splendor, fields stretch out on both sides of us forever. The van has bottomed out a couple times now on this less-than-grand driving surface, but we drive on. Jim has astutely pointed out that we would find turning around to be most difficult, if at all possible, so we simply continue to follow the signs. Thankfully someone has seen fit to grade the surface of this track we're following (I believe it must only be here for farmers to get to these fields) but we still have to avoid large rocks and even some unleveled ruts that were missed in the grading process. I'm convinced despite the signs directing us that we're NOT on the correct route to our goal. We just seem to be going further into the vast expanse of fields on faith that these directional signs are not twisted, turned or wrongly guiding our advance.

Great luck, at last, we've made it to a paved road surface! We've come out in Kucukkoy, a small village, and we make our way through it. The little brown signs are still guiding our progress, as we faithfully turn each time when directed to do so. Then to add more fun to our last several miles we discover this little village has unmarked speed bumps! We're going slowly to begin with, the village is small and the street quite narrow, but this last bump gets our immediate attention. Just to the side of the street I notice a large dirty puddle of water and eight or ten ducks having a good old time splashing around in it. Now we're directed once more to turn and the street becomes more of an alley; there are buildings nearly up to the edge of the street. The rain has again left a good deal of mud and there appear to be a number of manure piles between us and the structures we pass along our route. Oh, there comes a car and we have to share this street; that was close, another inch and we'd have been mired in very wet mud and manure!

My fellow 'tourists' think I've gone just a little over the top with my oration as we have tried to find our goal. I simply have continued to point out that this agricultural path and village adventure has done little to convince me we're on the right track. Just outside the little village now, there it is, the mound! We've found Catalhoyuk at last. We pull into the compound and find the place deserted, well nearly. We park in front of the entrance along the driveway and a gentleman appears from the house just inside. The peak season for visitors to the site is well past and we have the place to ourselves. We're led to the main exhibition building and we pay our entry fee. There is a 14-page brochure available for 3TL that has a short synopsis of the site. Once in the main hall we're shown a video that offers us an overview of the history of the site and the excavations that have led to the current surroundings.

I'm in complete awe of what is now Catalhoyuk; on our initial visit twenty odd years ago there was only the slightest indication something existed under our feet. We saw mud brick foundations that had been unearthed to maybe a foot or two and nothing more. The site had been excavated to some degree in 1963 and we were visiting in 1983. TODAY we see a massive exhibition hall and research center, an experimental house (an example of the original dwellings), dorm space for those who summer here and then on the mound itself a couple of covered excavations. This is an international effort with more than ten countries represented at any one time during the digs.

We continue our visit with a walk around the exhibit hall after the video and take in the posted literature and photographs. There are a few shadow box cases recessed in the walls that display pottery and other artifacts from the excavations. The current exploration of the site was begun in the mid 1990s and continues on. The summer brings hundreds of researchers to this facility every season. The work is to progress for twenty-five years! Fortunately, the work here has many corporate sponsors who pay for the cost of each summer foray into the hidden treasures of the mound. Our literature suggests that there are 16 levels and hundreds of houses beneath our feet. The cost of archaeology is high but the historical value of knowledge to be gained here is priceless.

Our guide now takes us on a stroll over the mound. I don't recommend this stroll after a rain; the hillside could be quite slippery and muddy. The weather today is perfect, cool but very comfortable. We visit first the smaller of the two enclosures; it's a look down into a 10 or 12 square meter dig. The sun is full and aides the illumination of the interior of this covered site. There are a number of pictorial boards attached to this railed-off excavation. We're looking down into the remains of several homes from a walk around platform. The walls are apparent and a number of other areas are pointed out to us by numbers and arrows on the excavation below. We get a good picture of what was here so many centuries ago by matching the excavation arrows and numbers to the pictorials in front of us.

Just outside, completely covered in sandbags, are the most recent excavations. They're covered to preserve them until next summer's return of the archaeologists. Beyond this smattering of sandbags is the trail leading to the larger enclosure. We're led across the mound and up over a hill to the next viewing. We enter into a world of centuries past; we stand peering into a vast maze of former houses, looking at walls and foundations dated back to and beyond 9,000 years! We're told in another posted board that the deepest excavation below us is more than 9,000 years ago; it says 384 generations have lived above the lowest one at our feet. It is thought that between 5,000 and 8,000 inhabitants lived here at Catalhuyuk's zenith. I don't know about you, but standing here gazing into this excavation makes me feel so very, very tiny. I think about my fifty-plus years on this planet and the fact that I've been preceded by so many others and wonder if this many more will follow us?

As I leave this enclosure and gaze out over the mound I wonder just how many more of these dwellings are still buried beneath our feet. It's extremely hard to imagine how these people lived so many generations ago; this is purported to be the largest and most revealing Neolithic site on earth. This is also touted to be the first social civilization or city-state, as it was called, and cattle were first domesticated here. It's certainly impressive and I would encourage you to visit it if you can. We complete our stroll down the backside of the mound and return to our van.

We've spent an hour maybe two on our visit and we thank our guide for his time. He speaks only a few words of English but we make our point and he's very kind to show us around. We have a hotel reservation (Mevlana Sema Otel) in Konya and we decide to get on to the hotel and check-in. It's a lovely afternoon and the drive out from Catalhoyuk is far kinder; we've located the paved road that leads into the site as well as out. When you make plans to visit this most impressive site, I suggest you use the paved road. I highly recommend it over the irrigation canal 'cow path'; unless of course you're into four wheeling, then by all means enjoy the adventure.

The paved road leads us directly into Konya; once there we get to the hotel and put our bags away and freshen up. The city isn't near as cold as I had anticipated from the weather reports but then the humidity here is much lower than in Adana. Carol and I get the sense we're back in 'our' Ankara of twenty years ago; the winter has brought the heating of homes and the atmosphere is saturated in coal soot. It fouls the air we have to breathe as we walk and we can even taste the sulfur in the air. We make plans to meet in the lobby in fifteen minutes so we can go to lunch. We're all looking forward to eating at our favorite restaurant (Damla Kebbb) just a block from our hotel. We've brought friends to Konya with us this time and Carol has decided she will take them to the Mevlana Museum after we have lunch. Jim, Chelly and I go to visit with some of the old carpet shop owners. We visit two or three shops before Carol phones me to find out where we are and then we meet up and continue our shop hopping. As I've indicated in the past, you can not see too many carpets. It doesn't matter how often or how many we see, we always discover there are new pieces to be found.

We spend the rest of the day in and out of carpet shops and then have dinner to complete our day. At dinner we talk about our plans for the next day; we intend to visit the city of Nasreddin Hodja. We settle on a time for breakfast and return to our hotel pleased with our day's adventure.

Saturday morning dawns and I've come down to the restaurant level. I'm sitting at a window table watching the city awaken. I can once again taste the air as it permeates my every breath. The bulk of the traffic on the street just outside my window is buses and dolmus vans. The only activity I see is the restaurant across the street; they appear to be preparing to open. It's a cafeteria style place we've eaten in several times; I didn't realize they open so early. The sun is beginning to pierce the morning sky as the cloud cover takes on a hint of pink with small patches of clear sky painted in turquoise.

I've just noticed with the brighter sky a phone wire junction box just outside the window by the curb; it has been painted purple and then over painted with multi-color flower blossoms. The bottom of the case has been painted to look as if it were rock masonry. Then I spy another just across the street, it painted with only two colors, blue and cream and the design of a stylized horse. Down the street a little farther there's one with a Roman soldier, very tastefully done. It's amazing, street art for the masses!


The time is slipping away; I need to get down to the basement to meet with the others for breakfast. We've all slept fairly well and are very eager to get on to our next adventure. We go to our rooms and collect what we want for the day and we're on the highway to visit Aksehir the home of Nasreddin Hodja. Hodja is loosely translated - teacher or wise one, philosopher. There are many tales attributed to Hodja in Turkey. One of my favorites is this one:


Hodja and the Enlightenment
On a hot summer day Nasreddin Hodja was resting under a big walnut tree. He noticed that there were some enormous watermelons growing in the field close by, and then looking up he saw walnuts on the tree. " Oh, my God," he said silently. "Thou has made both of these-the huge watermelons and the tiny walnuts. But aren't those walnuts up there too small for the tree they grow on? A tree whose trunk cannot be encircled by two men stretching out their arms. Those branches spread out like a tent almost fifty yards. Would it not have been better for those big watermelons to grow on the walnut tree and those walnuts on the watermelon plant?"
No sooner had he said these words than a walnut fell and hit him right on his forehead. It caused him to see stars and he gave a cry of pain as he held his head in his hands. A feeling of awe came over him, the fear of God entered his heart and he repented for what he said. "Oh my God!" he cried. "I have sinned. Please forgive me. Never again will I presume to question the wisdom of thy Providence. Thou movest in mysterious ways! Ah, have mercy on me! What would have happened to my head if this tree had watermelons on it and one of them had fallen on my head?!"

Carol's favorite Hodja tale is this one:

How Long Will it Take?
One afternoon the Hodja was resting at the edge of his vineyard before starting back to the village for his dinner. Along the dusty road came a traveler, a stranger to that neighborhood.
"I say, Hodja, effendi (Sir), how long will it take me to walk to the next village?" the stranger asked.
Nasreddin Hodja studied the traveler quietly, but he did not answer.
Puzzled, the stranger muttered to himself, "Well, the fellow is either stupid or deaf! I'll ask him again."
"I say, Hodja effendi," he repeated more loudly, "how long will it take me to walk to the next village?"
Nasreddin Hodja thought the matter over, but he still did not answer.
Irritated the stranger shouted, "I say, Hodja effendi, how long will it take to walk to the next village?"
As Nasreddin Hodja still made no reply, the traveler turned away angrily and began to walk with great strides toward the village. After watching him for a minute or two, the Hodja called, "My friend, it will take you no longer than fifteen minutes."
Surprised, the stranger turned around. "Well, why didn't you tell me that before?" he exclaimed.
"How could I say," answered the Hodja calmly, "until I knew how fast you planned to walk?"

We travel for a couple hours going west from Konya; the road is good and the weather likewise. There has been some snow here in the not too distant past; we see the remains of drifts along the fields and fingers of snow in the valleys as we look toward the hills and mountains. The cloud cover on the mountain tops make it difficult to see clearly how much snow is there but it's obvious there's some. On our way we travel through Ladik, a very old village noted for carpet making. We've not seen any Ladik carpets in years so we vow to stop here on our way back to Konya to see if we can find any of them. Our experience to date has been to find no carpets in the villages noted for them; it's odd but we still have to look. We continue our journey to visit the village where Nasreddin Hodja lived most of his life.

As we near Aksehir, we see the community is nestled at the foot of a mountain. Our path is well directed here; signs indicate where we must go and guide our way. After reaching the city, the route to Hodja's tomb is a short one. We park near a stream that meanders through the city. We first stroll into a large cemetery to view his tomb. On the historic sign within the tomb we find these words: 'Here rests the body of the golden figure, Nasreddin Hodja'. It also has inscribed the words of the beloved Hodja: 'Here is the center of the world'. After visiting the tomb we move on to the park adjacent to it dedicated to several Hodja tales. One is about a borrowed cauldron and one of massive proportions is on display in this park; it must be 3 meters high and at least that and more in diameter. The tale is called:

The Pregnant Pot
Nasreddin Hodja had a dishonest neighbor to whom he wanted to teach a lesson. One day he asked this neighbor for the loan of a cauldron. After a few days, he returned it with a small saucepan in it. When the man asked what it was all about, Nasreddin Hodja answered that his cauldron had given birth to a baby - a saucepan. A short while later, Nasreddin Hodja again asked for the loan of the same cauldron. His neighbor, hoping for another "birth" gave it to the "imbecile" Hodja. This time many days passed, and the cauldron had not been returned. Finally his neighbor decided to personally ask for his cauldron. "Please accept my sincere condolences," Nasreddin Hodja said with a sad face. "Your cauldron is dead!" "What, my cauldron is dead!" cried out his amazed neighbor. "Whoever heard of a cauldron dying?" "What an incredulous man you are!" Nasreddin Hodja replied. "What is there surprising in the death of a cauldron which could give birth to a pan?"

Hodja is purported to have lived in 13th century, but his tales still live today. There are both wisdom and comedy in the tales attributed to Hodja; I've simply given you a tiny taste with these three tales. The historical record is not clear on his exact birth date or the life he lived. His tomb here dates his death between 1284-1285 but other accounts use different dates. His actual birthplace is a town called Sivrihisar not far from Ankara on the road to Eskisehir. Carol and I have visited there as well, many years ago.


We don't spend a great deal of time here; everything is well centered and can be seen easily in an hour or so. We decide to return to Konya and get lunch on our way. Not far out of Aksehir we find a BP petrol station with a large restaurant and decide to stop. We all are very satisfied with lunch; I'm especially pleased because they have coban kavurma (a shepherd stew) that is delicious. I've not had any of this in a good long time and the very best ever was in Afyon many years ago. We have a leisurely lunch and get back on the road to Ladik.

On our trip to Aksehir we saw a few carpets hanging from a balcony along the highway so we stop when we get back to them. A man from the shop below has to phone the carpet shop owner but it's only a few minutes and he appears. We go into his shop and look around; we find Ladik carpets and the prices are good. We're not in the market though; we simply wanted to see what kind of quality still exists. These are really nice and IF we were buying, these would be perfect. We thank the man for his time and get back on the road to Konya.

Once in Konya we go to the Koyunoglu Museum with artifacts from his private collection. They include taxidermy, geology, currency, coins, photographs, calligraphy, textiles and carpets. This is an excellent museum set off away from Konya's major tourist areas but a must see if you visit Konya. We spend about an hour going through the exhibits and then return to the hotel. The rest of the afternoon and evening are spent in and out of carpet shops. After having enough of those, we simply return to the hotel and retire.

I begin the morning with a walk in the predawn hours. The street is not active yet; it's only six o'clock. I walk down one side of the street from the hotel and then up the other; I notice more of the phone boxes this morning. Here's one with a Whirling Dervish, then one with Black Sea boats, here's another with a village street scene and then one with a painting of an old man with a wicker basket on his back. What a beautiful way to bring extraordinary art to ordinary places. I have to wonder how many people in their daily life stop and admire these great pieces of art? Then too, I wonder; would I have seen them if I had not been taking this early morning stroll? Several of the pieces I stop to appreciate tell me some anonymous artist has put heart and soul into them for all of us to enjoy.

The weather has been very kind to us this weekend, the weather reports were not all that accurate and I'm thankful. The air is still not very good but I much enjoy the mornings on the sleepy streets. Back in the hotel dining room now I sit here looking out across the street. There must be eight or ten shops there with tarps thrown over their goods; you see, they simply leave their products out next to their shops on the sidewalk. The tarps are laden with rocks and bricks to keep them in place. I'm looking at probably a ton of candy; there are so many varieties I can't begin to tell you but in just a few hours it will all be uncovered and ready for the day's sales. Unlike yesterday morning, there will be no break in the cloud cover and there's no hint of sun to tint the clouds.

I've got to get down the stairs to meet with the others for breakfast. We'll have some time this morning to make a couple shops before we have to leave Konya, so we have breakfast and get on with the day. A few more shops and a few more packages later, we have a great deal of van loading to do but we're off by noon.

We decide to make a stop at the crater lake on the way back home. There are a couple places where you can visit a crater lake along this route; we decide to stop at the most convenient one just behind a petrol station and restaurant. These don't appear to be listed in any of the travel guides I have but they are none the less here. Simply look for the 'brown' historical signs. The one we stopped at was very deep and had a road going completely around it down close to the water. We saw one 'tiny' car driving down there and a large flock of sheep. Maybe we'll explore it more next time.

It is sugar beet harvest time on the Konya plain. We have watched the manual labor of chopping off the leafy tops and the 'throwing' of the beets, one by one, into the farmers' wagons. Each beet is larger than an extra large grapefruit. Every once in a while we see one that has 'escaped' the wagon and is lying in the road. We ran over one with the van and it sounded like we had hit a large rock.

Back on the highway after looking at the crater, we come to a sugar beet station, for lack of a better term. This is where the farmers bring their crop and off load them into massive piles. These piles must be four meters deep and cover a land mass the size of very large corporate parking lot. There must be twenty tractors with wagons waiting their turn to off load. The tractor and wagon are driven on to a hydraulic platform that raises at a tilt to clear the beets from the wagon. The hydraulic platform system seems to be mobile and it takes two sets of tractor and wagon. The beets are dumped into a hopper and then moved onto a conveyer system that transports them to the top of the pile. It's quite a system to watch. We spend ten or fifteen minutes watching several loads being driven on the platform and then the empty wagon dragged off so the tractor can get the next load up to off load the sugar beets.

There are at least two large sugar beet processing plants on our route but this is simply a collection point or staging area. Both plants we've driven by the last couple of days have had hundreds of loads of sugar beets waiting their turn for off load. I'm told the beets are ground and then boiled to extract the sugar. We saw plenty of beet pulp being moved as well; that's the residue from the grinding process.

Well, that concludes another full weekend adventure. We made it out and back and once more enjoyed an educational trip into our ancient past courtesy of our host country - Turkey.




Fred´s Farewell
A Day Trip in January
Drive to Roman Ruins
An Autumn Drive
Cappadocia - Once Again
A Trip to Ephesus and Pamukkale
Fred´s Tarsus
Northern Cyprus Over Thanksgiving
Cilician Drive
Kocatepe Mosque - Ankara
A Visit to Anıtkabir
Fred´s Weekend in Ankara
A Day in Anavarza
Driving in the Heartland
Spontaneity by Fred
A Trip to Soğanlı and Gülşehir
An Antakya Weekend
A Weekend Around Adana
A Rainsoaked Adventure
A Mediterranean Adventure
Fred's Bor Adventure
Fred's Weekend Escape to Ihlara
Fred's Lecture on Carpet
Fred's Weekend Away
Uzuncaburc with Fred
Museums of Cappadocia
Göreme - A Different Way
Night Train to Ankara
Cave Home Tour
A Trip to Kayseri - Özkonak
Kastabala in August
A Bittersweet Adventure
Silifke, Anamur and more
Around Adana
Catalhoyuk & Aksehir Adventures
Nigde Exploration
Cappadocia Again
Kahramanmaraş Again
A Trip to Kayseri - Sultanhani
A Morning Walk
Sunday Lunch Overlooking the Lake
Fred's Kahramanmaras
Holiday Drive to Mersin
A Sunday Drive to Yumurtalik
Fred's Tarsus
Fred's Cappadocia
Botas Seaside Drive
Fred's Konya Museums
A Bus Tour to Antakya
A Walk with Cuddle
Ankara Again
Gaziantep Museum by Fred
Moores' Anniversary Weekend
Shopping in Sanliurfa
The Seaside at Karataş
This is Ankara
Tour to Gaziantep-Harran
Trip to Konya
Birsen's Horizons
Fred's Trip Logs
Bahar's Views on...
Business World
From Members' Pen
Interviews with Members
Moms & Kids Corner
Pets with Dr. Demirel
The archives of The Guide
The Archives of Turkishtime
Teen's world

Latest comments about this article

 By Tosun Saral  14.6.2007

The story wallnut and the Hoca reminded me the story how Newton find the Law of Gravity. An apple falls on the head of Newton and this leads him to find the Law of Gravity. This new Law changed the whole world. This is the difference between the western and Turkish mentality and philosophy. This is the real reason why we lost a great Empire.

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Fred's Trip Logs
Fred´s Farewell
A Day Trip in January
Drive to Roman Ruins
An Autumn Drive
Cappadocia - Once Again
A Trip to Ephesus and Pamukkale
Fred´s Tarsus
Northern Cyprus Over Thanksgiving
Cilician Drive
Kocatepe Mosque - Ankara
A Visit to Anıtkabir
Fred´s Weekend in Ankara
A Day in Anavarza
Driving in the Heartland
Spontaneity by Fred
A Trip to Soğanlı and Gülşehir
An Antakya Weekend
A Weekend Around Adana
A Rainsoaked Adventure
A Mediterranean Adventure
Fred's Bor Adventure
Fred's Weekend Escape to Ihlara
Fred's Lecture on Carpet
Fred's Weekend Away
Uzuncaburc with Fred
Museums of Cappadocia
Göreme - A Different Way
Night Train to Ankara
Cave Home Tour
A Trip to Kayseri - Özkonak
Kastabala in August
A Bittersweet Adventure
Silifke, Anamur and more
Around Adana
Catalhoyuk & Aksehir Adventures
Nigde Exploration
Cappadocia Again
Kahramanmaraş Again
A Trip to Kayseri - Sultanhani
A Morning Walk
Sunday Lunch Overlooking the Lake
Fred's Kahramanmaras
Holiday Drive to Mersin
A Sunday Drive to Yumurtalik
Fred's Tarsus
Fred's Cappadocia
Botas Seaside Drive
Fred's Konya Museums
A Bus Tour to Antakya
A Walk with Cuddle
Ankara Again
Gaziantep Museum by Fred
Moores' Anniversary Weekend
Shopping in Sanliurfa
The Seaside at Karataş
This is Ankara
Tour to Gaziantep-Harran
Trip to Konya

Focus On
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