Wednesday, June 9, 2010
CEMETERIES IN TURKEY
My interest in cemeteries goes way back to when I was a child and my father used to take my little sister and me for a walk in a lovely old cemetery in Whittier, California. In junior high school some friends and I formed the "Wilmore Memorial Club" in Long Beach, the express reason being to visit the burial site of William Erwin Wilmore, founder of the city of Long Beach. And of course, taking up the hobby of genealogy in mid-age was a natural extension of those early interests. Later in Istanbul I researched a cemetery where Americans were buried. And I took lots of photos of various cemeteries and tombs throughout Turkey. Today and tomorrow I will share some of those photos.
The picture above is of a burial site in the old area of Istambul, although it is not an especially old site and is quite nicely maintained. Not all sites are. Tomorrow I'll have something more to say about what one can generally expect to find in muslim cemeteries as contrasted with those of non-muslims. But for today, I'll just start with two diametrically opposite burial sites.
On a trip into central Anatolia during the winter I saw the vista above and at first glance I thought I was seeing cacti on a barren hillside. However, I soon discovered that it was not cacti at all but tombstones in an old burial site. It actually was quite some distance from where I stood; by using a telephoto lens I was able to show more clearly what I was seeing. The starkness of that area was such a change from the other areas I had seen of Turkey, and I must admit that it certainly has its own beauty. I don't remember where it was exactly, but on that visit we were near Sile and Catalhoyuk.
This cemetery is in an area near the Black Sea, taken as I remember, on a trip to Tonya. The Black Sea coast is hot, humid and so very lush and green. You can see in this photo how the plant growth has taken over this cemetery. I'm sure most of the stones were hidden by the plants; you can see a few with their tops peeking up among the greenery.