THE PLEASURE AND THE PAIN : A TRIP TO KODAPA by Merve Günal

Climbing the slope to Kodapa, incredible terrasing!
Archaeology has lots of definitions that reflect everyone’s point of view. For me, (it’s not totally an explanation) archaeology is like a never ending story that includes lots of experiences that leads you to push your limits. Since I was little, I always liked to be outdoors and taking trips to places I didn’t see before. Archaeology actually gave me this opportunity, because you cannot be an accomplish archaeologist before you visited a lot of sites and also did a lot of fieldwork. In a way it is like an one-stone-two-birds situation for me. While I am enjoying having a trip, I also do my (home)work. I think this is one of the reasons why I love archaeology (and it is not a 9 am - 5 pm office job like being a lawyer or economist... sorry but not sorry guys, I do not like it, but if you are an academician it is different of course). 

I mean being outdoors and moving all around are good for you and for your health guys (just having healthy life style blogger/vlogger moment in here). So, I am going to reach the main topic of this blog post: THE ANCIENT CITY of KODAPA !!! Why did I write it down in capital letters ? Because it earned it... believe me, I know!
We finally reached the Ancient City!!!
Kodapa is an ancient settlement on a peak of a mountain that is located above today’s Çökertme (Muğla/Milas). It is a small scale city but its magnificence is still obvious. I am going to start from the beginning, because at the beginning nearly everyone had doubts about climbing the mountain where Kodapa is located. “Is it worth to do a two hour mountain climbing to see a small ancient city ?” This is where your inner archaeologist and your curiosity come to stage. I know myself guys, no one could ever force me to climb that mountain. I am too lazy for that, really. But when archaeology is involved, I pushed my limits to climb and then reached Kodapa. It was one of the toughest experience of my 23-year-old life. In the morning, we first drove to Çökertme and then reach the village (Bozalan) located in a tiny valley that surrounds our “famous” mountain. We drove till a dead end in the village then we started climbing. Yeap, even in the village we climbed. After half an hour climbing we took like 5 breaks and everyone started to finish their water bottles. “Guys, we didn’t even get into the forest, the real “climbing” thing” said the ones that knew. Hearing that some of our team members started like “I CANNOT GO FURTHER, PLEASE LEAVE ME HERE. YOU CAN GO. YOU CAN TAKE ME ON YOUR WAY BACK” type of things. We used some kind of a goat road to climb safely because the other way around was really dangerous, and our team included 14 people. 
The City Gate
Our climbing took like 2 hours and lots of breaks. I think that if you do not have a person with you who knows the area and the settlement you can not find the place. So, after this long/crazy walk, we reached the fortification and the complicated city gate that includes 2-3 sections to capture the potential enemies. It was really huge and the architecture of it even just by looking amazing. Then, we passed through the gate and reached to the agora. You can still see the ancient street that lies along the agora. When you take the street going up and pass the agora, you reach a second ring wall and a large structure looking-like-a-palace. It is located at the very top of the hill and built on top of huge rock (bedrock ?). While we were walking, we saw an illegal excavation near the looking-like-palace structure. The pit was rectangular and looking like grave-ish but it is actually not. We also saw some scattered pottery fragments on the surface around the illegal excavation and all of them looked like 4th c. BC (I mean Attic Black glaze and so).
One of the many remains onsite: some kind of press stone.
The most surprising feature about Kodapa is that this city seems to have been abandoned in the 4th century BC (Hekatomnid?) and was never reoccupied (I learned this from Dr. Olivier Henry of course, I did not even know the city before this trip... He knew it as he did a survey some years ago in the region). Also, this city’s name from the 5th century Athenian Tribute List. It was apparently paying a quite decent amount of money to the Athenian League! So, this means that this city was pretty wealthy. The dominating view from the looking-like-a-palace structure and toward the sea amazed all of us. We said “IT WAS WORTH IT” because I have never seen such a view. We took our main break over there, like more than a hour, enjoyed the view with our team members and tried to inhale clean air (you know, the one you cannot find in the city). 
 
We did it!

It was really hot that day and there was no shadow, so we couldn’t stay longer. Also, there was a long way back. While we were returning, we took a different road. Because of the cliff right on our side there were lots of silting up so even our way back was hard (this is where I learned that sometimes going down the cliff is not always easier than going up). Some of our friends had some heatwave (for example ÇAĞLA). Even when we reached the village we were still pushing on the legs to compensate the slope! We couldn’t take it any more and I found a hose from one of the village houses and started to wash myself and drink, a lot! (because of course no one had water left!). After washed myself (really, I took a quick shower over there, although all dressed up), our team members were like “çöldeki bedevinin suya kavuşması gibi”. They all drunk lots of water and washed themselves. After this, we tried to find our driver because no one wanted to walk anymore but guess what happened ? THIS VILLAGE HAS NO NETWORK ! We couldn’t reach our driver but we guessed that if we could reach the village centre we could find him. Then, we started to asked around “Where is kahvehane/kıraathane (coffee place where all men of the village just hang around till night play some game and drink tea/coffee) ?” Everyone said “Near the mosque” but here is another problem WE COULDN’T EVEN SEE THE MINARETS OF MOSQUE !!!! AND THIS VILLAGE IS LOCATED ON A SLOPE AND WE CANNOT FEEL OUR LEGS GUYS !!!  (Even now, I am still angry and feel the pain). Here is the Eureka moment: we finally found the kahvehane/kıraathane (but still could not reach our driver). That must have been a shock for the locals to have all those foreigners dirty and sweaty, and apparently exhausted, just landing in this small coffee house, in the middle of (almost) nowhere. The elders of the village sitting there started to ask questions to Olivier Henry and he patiently answered although he was exhausted like hell (cutie). And finally we reached our driver and get in our bus. The problem (yes!) was that that day, there were two funerals in the village and it was crowded. We couldn’t get out with our big bus. It was like a curse! Finally, the end of the day was really beautiful and it removed all of our pains: We went to a seaside restaurant and had a great fish and meze and “rain of potato chips” (they were like chips that your grandma and mom always made). After this huge meal, we swam in the bay of Çökertme, the one we saw from Kodapa. It was a really good day and after the swimming and the amazing lunch/dinner (it was late in the day), we all had smiles on our face on our way back to Milas.

The breathtaking view from Kodapa
I think that these type of trips are really beneficial for both archaeologists and archaeology students. In the academic year we arrange some trips to specific places, but we only arrange close-by ancient cities or some höyüks, because of the lack of time and the amount of assignments waiting at home. So, arranging these type of trips while you are in an excavation is really beneficial and educational. Also it is like killing two birds with one stone!

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