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Sort of, But Not, Thoughts From Turkey

04/07/2012

Sort of European, but not. Sort of wealthy, but not. sort of Islamic, but not. It’s that last one that seems to make the least sense in that 95% Muslim country, but when you view this country you understand. Turkey is a land of little contrast but with great difference from others.

Walking down the Western style, yet defiantly Eastern main streets of its small towns does to little confirm or deny anything about this strange but beautiful country. After just ten days I still cannot manage to begin to understand the place.

Realising this I took sanctuary where.many armature historians do, in amount the ruins and buildings of those long dead. So I headed upstream towards the ruin of Caunos. Here I began to realise why it was that those first three sort ofs were not.

Caunos (formerly Kbid, and Kaunos) was a small town carved into a tall cliffy hill, at the summit, and around it at the same time. It sums up the whole of Turkey with its history. It was founded by the Anatolians (Turkish peninsula, Asia minor) claiming to be from Crete, conquered by the Persians, and claimed by the Greeks in rebellion. Following this it fell into the hands of the Romans, and was part of the Eastern side of the Romans (itself a country of different names, of Byzantium or Eastern Roman Empire, denoting its own difference.)

From here it declined from pirate and.Muslim Arab attacks and plagued with attacks from Turkish tribes it become more of a hilltop castle. However it wasn’t man that finally toppled it, but malaria, when a serious outbreak wiping out many and forcing the rest to leave.

These constant changes are mirrored by the whole of Turkey. Constantly swapped between not just countries (it was indeed conquered by, wait for it, the Mongols,) but also entire culture systems. West and East fought for this land, and it sat in the middle, changing.

Turkey reminds us that it is possible to be caught in between, to be half one and half another. So even though it is 95% Muslim, it is sort of Islamic, but not. It is a secular country, as religious as any Western state is. It is a tale of two cultures and Turkey reminds me of the best of both, and gives me hope for a future of secular nations, each with their religion existing, but never forced.

Culture is what nations are built on, so.perhaps it is inevitable that Turkey remains a largely unified, albeit large, country. And perhaps it is relatively monochromatic European culture that leads to the effect of the EU as a US of Europe. Even Hans isn’t too different from Paddy.

Sitting as I did, eating dinner on my final day there, in front of a ruined house half full of the sea,  I couldn’t help but to imagine how our own largely unchanged  culture will be rewritten in the coming centuries, decades even. Turkey is a land of East and West, will the opening up of China make us the same?

As the sun set I could only watch it sunk below the destroyed roof of the half-sunken ruin, unsure as I was a lot in Turkey, whether that house would have been considered Western or Eastern.

That land of sort of, but not.

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