Henry Fanshawe Tozer.

Researches in the highlands of Turkey; including visits to mounts Ida, Athos, Olympus, and Pelion, to the Mirdite Albanians, and other remote tribes (Volume 1) online

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runs from west to east, facing the Hellespont, it flows
successively through the plain of Beyramitch and the
Trojan plain, which are separated from one another by a
confined valley, several miles in length, at the northern
termination of which stands the hill of Bunarbashi. It

Chap. I. Rivers. 9

was through this valley that the first part of our route
lay on the way to Mount Ida. In order to reach it, we
had to cross the low ridge which connects the hill of
Bunarbashi with the chain to the west ; on descending
from which we passed over a small tract of fertile ground,
which those who have fixed the site of Troy on the
neighbouring height have regarded as the Ileian plain.^
The principal vegetation here, as in all the more level
parts of the surrounding district, is the Valonia oak (the
ancient ^aXavoi), the husk of the acorn of which is used
in tanning, and is exported from hence in considerable
quantities. The sides of the river are fringed with plane-
trees, and the sandy hills, which close in the valley, are
covered with pines. Owing to the narrowness of its bed,
the Mendere in the winter time, when the floods come
down from Mount Ida, often rises to a great height above
its banks. The valley continues to wind with pretty
scenery for some ten miles, until the upper plain is
reached ; at the western end of which, on a tributary of
the Mendere, is the town of Enaeh, the ancient Neandria.
We entered it about nightfall, passing a fine cypress-
grove and a burial-ground on the way, and took up our
quarters at the house of a hospitable Armenian, to whom
we had an introduction.

The next morning we rode, in four hours, along the
plain to Beyramitch, the chief town of the district and
the residence of Achmet Bey, the governor. The ground
was in parts left untilled, but where it was cultivated the
crops were fine, and the farming seemed better than in
most parts of Turkey. On the way we met strings of
camels, bringing down the produce of the interior to the
sea : over our heads large flights of storks were wheeling

* II. xxL 558.

lO Mount Ida. Chap. I.

about in the air. The heat at this time was very great
at midday, but was modified by a refreshing breeze from
the north-east — the same, in all probability, which blows
down the Bosphorus with little intermission during the
summer months, and gives employment to the number of
tug-steamers which ply between the sea of Marmora and
the Black Sea. The governor, at whose house we made
our midday halt, was a portly person dressed in Euro-
pean costume, which looked out of place in the midst of
his gaily attired guards. He had a depressed look, and
I have since heard that, like so many of the Turkish
upper class, he is a great drunkard ; but to an English-
man he may fairly assume a romantic aspect, as he is
great-grandson of Byron's Giaffir in the 'Bride of Abydos,'
who was governor of the Dardanelles. When, however,
he was once asked by an English acquaintance whether
he had had a great-aunt called Zuleika, he reflected a
little, then shook his head vacantly, and replied, " Allah
knows ! "

The town of Beyramitch, the population of which is
principally Turkish, is a place of some size, prettily
situated on a hill-side at the edge of the plain, and sur-
mounted by a conspicuous grove of superb pine-trees,
which here, as well as in other places in the neighbour-
hood, serve instead of cypresses to mark the cemeteries,
the graves being distinguished by ovals of stones. From
this place to Evjilar, which was to be our starting-point
for the ascent of Ida, the usual route lies through the
plain ; but, as it was circuitous, in consequence of the pro-
jecting spurs which are here thrown out by the moun-
tain, we preferred to follow a less frequented track over
the hills. After a light repast on stewed cucumbers and
cold maccaroni pancakes, which made us regret the more
liberal hospitality of our humblef entertainers, we started

Chap. I. Beyrainitck — Evjilar. 1 1

again on our way in the midst of magnificent scenery,
the whole range of Ida being displayed on our right,
stretching from east to west in a long line of wooded
heights of beautiful form, broken only here and there by
transverse buttresses. When we had proceeded some dis-
tance we missed our path, and, in the course of our
Avanderings among the hills, came upon an encampment
of Turcomans with their flocks, who were living in huts
composed of branches and leaves. Ultimately, however,
we arrived before sunset at our destination, Evjilar, a
small Turkish village, composed of rude cottages, on the
banks of the Mendere.

The river had changed considerably in appearance
since we last saw it near Enaeh. Instead of being a
broad and tranquil piece of water, it had now ail the
characteristics of a Devonshire trout-stream, including
among them the excellent small trout which abound in
it ; indeed, when we looked along its glancing waters,
rippling among the rocks, we might easily have fancied
ourselves in that county of England, had it not been for
the Oriental plane-trees by which it is shaded. Just
below the village is a rustic wooden bridge, the view
from which is exquisitely romantic. Looking up the
confined valley in which the crystal river flows, you see
the picturesque wooded spurs which descend on either
side of it from the main chain, beyond which rises the
great mountain itself, clothed with dark forests until
within a thousand feet of the summit, which rises bold
and bare, a mass of grey limestone surmounting all.

The house in which we were lodged was a mill belong-
ing to an old Turk, close to the stream, and commanding
a view of the place where the young men of the village
came to fetch water. It was in itself a refreshing sight
to see the luxurious enjoyment with which they waded

12 Mount Ida. Chap. I.

into the river after depositing their pitchers on the bank,
then performed their abhitions, took a long draught, and
at last leisurely rinsed and filled their vessels, as if the
whole process were too delightful to be carelessly hurried
over. For ourselves, however, we were glad to find that
the water was deep enough for bathing —

" Beneath the plane-tree's shade,

Whence flows the glittering stream " —

though swimming was hardly practicable. On the even-
ing of our arrival, that Ave might have provisions for our
mountain-excursion, we bought a kid for about four
shillings, and, as it was skinned in our presence, we had
an opportunity of seeing the way in which the operation
is performed in these countries. After its throat had
been cut, an incision was made in one of the hind legs, to
which the operator applied his mouth and blew until the
whole carcase was inflated beneath the skin, after which
the rest of the process was accomplished with perfect

We found that the friendly Bey had sent after us two
guards and a cavass, or armed attendant (something
between a footman and a gendarme), to serve as an
escort on the mountain. This move was not to our
liking, as we had found by previous experience that such
gentry are an expense and an impediment, and in case
of any real danger they are certain to leave you in the
lurch. Accordingly, we did not hesitate long between
politeness and expediency, but dismissed two of them ;
retaining one, whom we discovered to be well acquainted
Avith the mountain paths, to serve as a guide. Sub-
sequently, however, we were told by a competent local
authority that it would have been Aviser to take them, as
there are generally several gangs of robbers on Mount

Chap. I. Gnai'ds — Robbers. 13

Ida — men who have run away from the conscription, or
deserted from the Turkish army, and find the life of an
outlaw the best suited to their circumstances — and that
though the guard would have been no protection in case
of falling in with them, yet, if you are accompanied by
an escort when you are robbed, you can claim compen-
sation from the authorities. But even then the delay
involved in this process is such as few travellers can

Between two and three o'clock the next afternoon we
started to ascend the mountain. Our guide was a middle-
aged Turk, a short but strong and active man, who
carried in his belt a magazine of small arms — yataghans,
pistols, and other weapons. We followed the eastern-
most of the two streams into which the river divides, and
when we reached the foot of Ida began to mount
gradually by a sloping path overlooking the most lovely
dells imaginable, in the midst of a mixed vegetation of
plane, oak, chestnut, fir, pine, alder, and arbutus. In one
of these glades we found a tribe of Yuruk with their
flocks. This race and the Turcomans are remains of the
nomads by whom Asia Minor was occupied at a period
anterior perhaps to the rise of the Ottomans. The two
races are distinct ; for, though the contrary of this has
been stated," yet the Osmanlis in the neighbourhood of
the Dardanelles declare that they will not intermarry
with one another, and have other marked points of
difierence. Thus the Yuruk are Mahometans, while the
Turcomans are thought to have no religion, or, if they
have any, it is a mystery, and they are reported to keep

'' E.g., in the article Turkey in the ' Encyclopaedia Britannica.' It has
also been attempted to show that Yuruk and Turk are the same name,
an early form of which is supposed to be found in the lyrca;, a hunting
tribe mentioned by Herodotus ; but this is improbable on every ground.


Mount Ida. Chap. I.

the Jewish Sabbath. Again, the Yuruk are wholly
pastoral ; but the Turcomans, in addition to the care of
their flocks, employ themselves in cutting wood and
collecting pitch, which they sell. In many parts of these
forests we observed trees which were black and charred,
and on inquiry we learned that they are fired in order to
extract the pitch from them. The pitch of Ida was
famous also in ancient times.' The natives of these
parts, too, are fond, we were told, of burning the trees for
amusement, as a resinous pine serves admirably for a
firework. It is a wonder that great conflagrations do
not arise from time to time from this cause when the
woods are dry, but we could not discover traces of any
on a large scale.^

One object w^hich we had in view, when we started on
our expedition, was to visit the sources of the Scamander,
which were said to flow from a fine cavern on the moun-
tain side. Accordingly our guide, who had been pro-
perly instructed on this subject, conducted us up a side
valley, near the spot where we had seen the Yuruk, to
the mouth of a cavern, below which flow^ed one of the
tributaries of the stream. Here he drew his yataghan,
and after cleaving a pine branch into a number of small
pieces, in a short time constructed a torch, which he
lighted, and entered the cave. We followed him for some
distance, crawling along^ with difficulty, up and down,
through a narrow passage in the limestone rock, which
was honeycombed by the action of water. However,
when we had proceeded some 60 feet, finding it led to

' " Idreas pices," Virg. Georg. iii. 450.

s That this used to happen in ancient times is evident from the Homeric
simile : —

ri'vTe "Kvp ai^rjXov ^TricpXiyn 'dairerov v\7]v

ovpeos ev Kopvcpys, iKuOev Se re (paiverai avyi}. — II, ii. 455> 6.

Chap. I. TJie Scamandcr. 15

nothing, ^ve returned somewhat disconsolate, feehng that
we had explored a curious cavern, but not the source of
the Scamander. It bears the name of "the Lidja," i.e.
" the refuge," being so called apparently from its suitable-
ness for a place of concealment. Persons who have tra-
velled in the desert will remember that this name (for it
is an Arabic word imported into Turkish) belongs also to
the sacred valley in Sinai, in which is the " rock of Moses."
No reason has been assigned, as far as I know, why it
should have been attached to that place, but it may have
been from its having at one period afforded shelter to
numerous pilgrims.^

From this point we proceeded to mount on foot,
driving our horses with difficulty before us, as in many
places there was no track, and the wood was tangled or
obstructed by felled trees. Towards sunset w^e emerged
from the forest on to the open face of the mountain, com-
manding an extensive view towards the north ; and after
making our way along this for some distance, selected a
sheltered place for our bivouac, by the side of a tiny
spring among the trees a little below the limit of vegeta-
tion. There are numerous and copious sources of water
about the lower slopes of " many-fountained " Ida, but in
these upper regions there are remarkably few. We sub-
sequently found a fine spring between our resting-place
and the summit, but its position was too exposed to
allow of our camping near it. Our dragoman and the
Turkish guide set to work at once to pile logs of wood
and trunks of trees together, and made a huge bonfire,
as well to keep off the cold as to scare the jackals and
other unwelcome visitors, for this mountain is still what
Homer described it, the " mother of wild beasts." That

3 See Ritter's 'Erdkunde,' xiv. p. 603.

1 6 Mount Ida. Ckap. I.

there is abundance of game in these woods is shown by
the name of the place from which we started, Evjilar,
which signifies " the hunter's village." We all partook of
supper off the kid, which had been roasted whole before
our departure, and then composed ourselves to sleep
round the fire. There was bright starlight, but no moon.
On the Greek festival of the prophet Elijah, to whom the
summits of many of the Greek mountains are dedicated,"^
a large number of people from the neighbouring villages,
sometimes as many as 300, pass the night on the moun-
tain-side, and afterwards have service on the top. The
modern Greeks, like their heathen forefathers, are every-
where fond of consecrating high peaks ; but Ida has
something of a sacred character about it, for it is men-
tioned by the mediaeval Byzantine writers, together with
Athos and Olympus, as having had in those times a
number of monasteries and cells built along its sides.
The ruins of some of these remained until the beginning
of the present century.

The spreading daylight at last warned us that we must
be up and on our way to the summit. When we emerged
from among the firs we commenced the steep ascent over
bare slopes and broken fragments of rock, and after an
hour's climbing reached " topmost Gargarus," which is
5750 feet high," but commands from its position a more

10 This circumstance is usually explained by the supposition, that in con-
sequence of the great sacrifice on Mount Carmel, Elijah came to be regarded
in the Greek Church as a patron of high places. Independently of this,
when -we consider the way in which heathen names and customs were
adapted to Christian purposes in early times, it is far from improbable that
from the similarity of names Elias was made to take the place of the Greek
Helios, who possessed sanctuaries on many of the Greek mountains. (See
Wachsmuth, 'Das alte Griechenland im neuen,' p. 23.)

" This measurement is taken from the Admiralty Chart, the most trust-
worthy authority. It is given by Choiseul Gouftier as 775 toiscs, i.e., 4650
French feet, or 50S4 English feet. In Smith's ' Dictionary of Geography

Chap. I. Ascent of tJic Mountain. 17

than proportionately fine prospect. We had mounted at
a good pace, but the sun was before us, and had risen
half an hour when we arrived. The view was clear and
cloudless, but the horizon was obscured by mist, as it
usually is during the summer months in the yEgean,
except now and then at sunrise. This effect contrasts
somewhat strikingly with the distinctness of the nearer
objects, and seems to be what Homer intends to express
by the epithet ^epoetS^y?, which is applied to " the
dim sea," and is also used of " the far distance," for
objects as much as 80 miles off may be seen notwith-

The view towards the north had been gradually open-
ing before us during our ascent ; but that towards the
south, which was far more beautiful, burst on us at once
when we reached the summit. Far below, and separated
from us only by a succession of finely-wooded mountain
spurs, was the deep bay of Adramyttlum, whose blue
waters were dotted here and there with white sails ; at
its head was an alluvial plain stretching inland, while
about its mouth the sea was studded with a number of
small islands, the Hecatonnesi ; beyond which rose the
two peaks of Lesbos, separated from one another by an
inlet ; and far in the distance the heights of Chios, and
on the neighbouring mainland those near Smyrna. To
the south-east, as we looked into the interior of Asia
Minor, range beyond range of mountains appeared, the
last and highest of which was probably Mount Tmolus.
We also conjectured that the easternmost peaks were
the summits of the Mysian Olympus, on which we had
been standing only a few weeks before. The view is

(s.v. Ida), the height is wrongly stated as being 4650 Enghsh feet,
the mistake having probably arisen from copying the numbers in Kiepert's


Motmt Ida. Chap. I.

divided into two parts by the long dorsal ridge of Ida,
thickly clothed with the pine forests from which it derives
its name (I'S?;, wood), and reaching from far away in the
east to where it sinks into the sea at Cape Lectum,
the point at which, according to Homer's description,'^
Hera landed in the company of the God of Sleep, when
about to meet Zeus on Gargarus, and from whence she
ascended over the heights, leaving her companion to keep
watch on one of the lofty pines. Turning to the north,
we looked over the plains we had crossed, and the hilly
district which stretches towards the Propontis ; then the
Hellespont came in view, the Plains of Troy, and the
Hill of Sigeum, Tenedos with its white town, the Thra-
cian Chersonese, and the broken outline of Imbros,
beyond which, in the dim distance, as we stood ourselves
on the watch-tower of Zeus, from whence he used to
survey the combats of Greeks and Trojans, w^e descried
far away the lofty peak of Samothrace, the station of

The flowers on and about the summit were numerous
and varied, considering the stony character of the soil.
Among those that I found were diantJuLS ncglectus, gypso-
pJiila crctica, pteroccphaliLs plmnosus, genista tinctoria,
viola calcaraia, scabiosa Jiolocerisia, ccntaiirea atirea,
thyniits angustifoliiis, alliimi carinatiivi. As the floras of
high mountains are interesting for purposes of com-
parison, I will here mention those that I found shortly
before this on the Mysian Olympus : saxifraga poropJiylla,
dianthus IcucopJimis, vesicaria iitricjdata, galiuin purpii-
reiim, scilla bifolia, pcdiadaris comosa, Icncantheimnn
cebennense, alysinn compactiun, inyosotis alpcstris, erigcrou
alpiiins, arciiaria grandiflora, aiitJiyllis niontana, raiuin-
ailiis montaniis, androsace villosa.

J2 II. xiv. 2S4,

Chap. I. Tjircoinan Encainpme7if. 19

The cold was very great while we were on the summit,
from the keenness of the east wind ; and accordingly,
after staying there more than an hour, we were glad to
return to our bivouac, from whence we descended with
our horses by a steeper route than that which we had
followed on the previous day, to a small open plateau on
the mountain-side. In this were pitched the tents of a
tribe of Turcomans, the most important we had yet met
with, who were encamped here during the summer
months. These tents were circular in form, and rounded
towards the top, where there w^as an aperture ; they were
composed of light trellis-work covered with felt, and
seemed comfortably furnished inside with carpets and
cushions. Though unlike any that I had ever seen
before, they correspond in all their features to the de-
scription of the tents of the Calmuck Tartars. Their
occupants had rather broad faces, high cheek-bones, black
eyes, and swarthy complexions. The women were not
veiled, and wore coins strung in their hair. One of them
was occupied in making butter by the somewhat labo-
rious process of rolling backwards and forwards on the
ground a goatskin in which the cream was contained ;
others were baking flat cakes on metal plates over a fire.
They seemed pleased to see us, and brought us some
coffee and a bowl of milk. The children were disporting
themselves, in true English fashion, in swings attached to
branches of the trees, showing the primaeval character of
that pastime. If for no other reason, these tribes are
interesting as enabling us to realise what the Ottomans
were before Othman's time ; for that people differed in
no respect from the surrounding tribes, except in having
a strongly marked character and settled purpose, which
ultimately raised them to be one of the greatest nations
that the world has seen. The monogram of the Sultan

C 2

20 Moimt Ida. Chap. I.

is to this day an evidence of this early stage in their his-
tory ; for, though now an elaborate specimen of calli-
graphy, it represents the old sign-manual, which was
made by dipping the palm in ink and leaving its print on
the paper. Few things in history are more striking than
to watch a family or tribe, like the Hellenes in ancient
Greece, the Ottomans, and many others, eliminating
themselves in this manner by a process of natural selec-
tion, and rising above their neighbours.

Leaving our horses to follow us, we scrambled down a
steep hill-side from the plateau into a gorge below, on
the opposite side of which a pretty waterfall shot over the
face of the rock. We clambered up a cliff by the side of
this, and reached the entrance of a cavern, on descending
into which we again came upon the stream, as it was
hurrying along in the darkness to the point where it
issued forth and formed the cascade. Again our guide's
yataghan was called into requisition, and when a pine-
torch had been made and lighted, we bared our feet and
legs and waded up the stream, which was icy cold and
deliciously refreshing after the temperature of the outer
air, the heat of which had already become oppressive.
After we had proceeded in this way for several hundred
feet, the cavern opened out into a spacious hall, the sides
of which rose gradually to a groove at the top, as in the
" Ear of Dionysius," at Syracuse. At the farther end of
this the clear water burst forth from the bowels of the
earth. This was the source of the Scamander — a striking
origin for any stream, from the grandeur of the cave and
the copiousness of the water, which is almost a river at
its birth, but from its mysterious seclusion especially
suited to be the fountain-head of one of the great Homeric
rivers. Its existence is just noticed by Strabo ;'^ the
1^ xiii. I. § 43.

Chap. I. Source of the Scamandcr. 2 1

inhabitants of the neighbourhood call it Buyuk Magara,
i. c., the Great Cavern. Before we returned to daylight
our Turk fired off one of his pistols, and the effect of this
was remarkable ; for when the brawling of the stream
was silenced by the reverberations, it seemed as if the
water had suddenly ceased to flow.

From this point we descended to Evjilar, and from
thence made our way the same evening through the plain
to Beyramitch, where we were once more received by
Acl;met Bey. On our return journey to the Plains of
Troy we diverged from our former route at Enaeh, in
order to visit the fine Roman remains of Alexandria
Troas ; these, however, have been described sufficiently
often to render it unnecessary for me to notice them. It
is owing to the British ambassador that they are still in
existence ; for, had it not been for his remonstrances, the
Turkish authorities would have blown them up, and car-
ried away the stones as materials for building the arsenal
at Constantinople. About half-way between Enaeh and
this place is a hill called Chigri, which deserves more
notice than it has hitherto attracted. It is a long and
lofty mass of granite, on which are fine remains of a
Greek city, with Hellenic walls built in parallel courses
of masonry, of which in some places as many as four-
teen remain ; but it has not been satisfactorily identified
with any ancient site. By the middle of the next day
we had returned to Bunarbashi, at the head of the plain
of Troy.

( 22 )



The Springs at Bunarbashi — Mode of treating the Subject — Accuracy of
Homeric epithets and descriptions — Topography of the Iliad — The
Springs near Troy — Correspondence with those at Bunarbashi — The
Bah-dagh — Its Tumuli — View from it — Floods of the Mendere —

Online LibraryHenry Fanshawe TozerResearches in the highlands of Turkey; including visits to mounts Ida, Athos, Olympus, and Pelion, to the Mirdite Albanians, and other remote tribes (Volume 1) → online text (page 2 of 31)