The Agora

Today, we visited the ancient cities of Smyrna and Sardis, two of the seven churches in Asia Minor to whom Jesus sent a message in the book of Revelation. Presently, Smyrna or Izmir, as it is called now, is the third largest city in Turkey whereas Sardis is now a small village town. Our group mainly focused on the ruins of these towns and tried to imagine its first-century setting.

In the past, people gathered in the Agora, or the public square, which included the marketplace. It was in these colonnaded structures that people usually assembled, traded, socialized, entertained, and did business. When he traveled, the Apostle Paul frequented these places to begin dialogue, especially with God-fearers. An interesting quote from a pastor: Paul was not so much a church-planter as he was a synagogue-splitter.

high colonnades of Smyrna's Agora

In Sardis, we saw the ruins of actual stalls where merchants sold their wares. Through excavation and research, archaeologists could even identify what stalls sold which product.

stalls in the agora

This stall sold dyed garments made of wool or linen. This particular one below is believed to be owned by Christians as evidenced by the cross engraved on the marble containers used to dye the cloths.

the Christians in the marketplace

This Agora in Sardis was located next to a big synagogue which suggests there was a sizable Jewish population there. It also suggests that Jews and Christians lived in harmony in the thriving commercial town. Next to the synagogue was a huge gymnasium complete with a bath house. I’m standing on the wall that separates the synagogue and the gym.

ruins of Sardis

Next stop: Ephesus. On the bus ride there, we were fortunate enough to see the beautiful, beautiful mountains of Turkey. I’m afraid my camera cannot completely capture their majestic scope.

beds of mountains

One advantage of riding a tour bus is the wide window that provides a scenic view of the landscape. I caught this sunset because I had a window seat.

awesome colors

2 Responses to “The Agora”

  1. Marilen says:

    Beautiful beautiful pics..and of course i love your commentaries….I especially enjoyed the recount of your milestone birthday..so so special that you got to spend it w/ ur cute nephews!!!!

    Turkey looks amazing..I wanna go there someday!

  2. mbcohao says:

    Yes, Turkey was probably my favorite out of this whole trip. It was exotic, exciting, and exhilarating! :-) I wouldn’t mind going back there again someday.

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