The Topkapi Palace is the biggest and one of the most popular sites to visit in Istanbul. It was built in between 1466 and 1478 by the sultan Mehmet II on top of a hill in a small peninsula, dominating the Golden Horn to the north, the Sea of Marmara to the south, and the Bosphorus strait to the north east, with great views of the Asian side as well. The palace was the political center of the Ottoman Empire between the 15th and 19th centuries, until they built Dolmabahce Palace by the waterside. The palace was opened to the public as a museum in 1924 by the order of Ataturk. The Istanbul Archaeology Museum consists of three museums: the Archaeological Museum, the Museum of the Ancient Orient and the Tiled Pavilion Museum or Museum of Islamic Art. The three museums house over one million objects that represent almost all the eras and civilisations in world history. As part of the core collection, on the second floor, they have spectacular collection of Greco-Roman sculpture from the 6th century BCE to the 2nd century CE. Since almost all the important eras of sculpture in this time period were on display, I have compiled a history of Greek and Roman Sculpture.
If you have ever wondered what it would be like to wander the streets of an ancient Roman city, then Gerasa (Jerash) might be the place for you. Jerash is the site of the ruins of the Greco-Roman city of Gerasa, also referred to as Antioch on the Golden River. Ancient Greek inscriptions from the city as well as literary sources from both Iamblichus and the Etymologicum Magnum support that the city was founded by Alexander the Great or his general Perdiccas, who settled aged Macedonian soldiers there. The city finally reached a size of about 800,000 square meters within its walls. The Persian invasion in AD 614 caused the rapid decline of Jerash. In AD 749, a major earthquake destroyed much of Jerash and its surroundings.The ruins remained buried in the soil for hundreds of years until they were discovered by German Orientalist Ulrich Jasper Seetzen in 1806. In addition to the role of the people of old villages near Jerash, the process of building the modern city of Jerash was mainly done by the resettlement of Circassian Muslims by the Ottoman authorities; the Circassians came to Transjordan from the Caucasus after the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–78.
Since this is a food site, I thought it would be appropriate to write on cutlery or table utensils. As the country of origin of chopsticks, China was the first country in the world to use chopsticks (and forks) and has a history of at least 5,000 years of using eating utensils. Chopsticks play an important role in Chinese food culture. Chopsticks are called “Kuai zi” in Chinese and were called “Zhu” in ancient times. Chopsticks seem quite simple with only two small and thin sticks, but they are in possession of many functions, such as picking, moving, nipping, mixing and digging. Anyone using chopsticks would without exception admire the inventor of chopsticks although westerners might wonder if he was only trying to torment them. No one knows how they originated, but there is a myth that about 3000 BC two poor Chinese farmers stole a chicken from a storehouse. They hid out in a forest and cooked it over an open fire. They were so hungry that they could not wait for the meat to cool and pulled off the done portions with a pair of sticks so that they would not be burned. From their humble beginning as twigs or small branches, Chinese chopsticks (kuai zi) evolved into the modern square cross section with blunt ends and tapered length.
Perfumes have been known to exist in some of the earliest human civilizations, either through ancient texts or from archaeological digs. The word perfume used today derives from the Latin “per fumum”, meaning “through smoke”, probably referring to frankincense and myrrh. Perfumery, or the art of making perfumes, began in ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt and was further refined by the Romans and Persians. Scent was also an important factor of beauty. Women who smelled good were presumed to be healthy. Due to the stench of many of the ingredients used in cosmetics at the time, women often drenched themselves in copious amounts of perfume. Perfumes were very popular in Ancient Rome. In fact, they were so heavily used that Cicero claimed that, “The right scent for a woman is none at all.” They came in liquid, solid and sticky forms and were often created in a ground process with flowers or herbs and oil. Deodorants made from alum, iris and rose petals were common. The glass perfume container to the right above was created with glass rods of different colors and then swirled to create this pattern. This would have been a very expensive flask, for an upperclass woman and for me, one of the stars of this post.
The Getty Villa is modeled after a first-century Roman country house, the Villa dei Papiri in Herculaneum, Italy from the first century. The building was constructed in the early 1970s by architects who worked closely with J. Paul Getty to develop the interior and exterior details. Buried by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in A.D. 79, much of the Villa dei Papiri remains unexcavated. Therefore, architects based many of the Museum's architectural and landscaping details on elements from other ancient Roman houses in the towns of Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Stabiae. Gardens are integral to the setting of the Getty Villa, as they were in the ancient Roman home, and include herbs and shrubs inspired by those grown in ancient Roman homes for food and ceremony. It opened in 1974, but was never visited by Getty, who died in 1976. Following his death, the museum inherited $661 million and began planning a much larger campus, the Getty Center, in nearby Brentwood which opened in 1997. The museum overcame neighborhood opposition to its new campus plan by agreeing to limit the total size of the development on the Getty Center site. To meet the museum's total space needs, the museum decided to split between the two locations with the Getty Villa housing the Greek, Roman, and Etruscan antiquities. The Villa was closed in 1997 for renovations and has only reopened in 2006.