The first stop this AM was supposed to be Catalhoyuk, a very early habitation site, and one of the hoped-for highlights of the trip over here.

And I was bombing along, not exploring alternative routing methodologies time (there’s only one big road from Karaman to Konya) and went through this little town and there were a bunch of little tents at the side of the road, with lots of trucks parked nearby, and so I went back and got out and shot some.

If you are standing on the goal line of a football field, and the field is 10,000 years old rather than 100 yards long . . .

Standing on the five-yard line closest to you are all the Gothic cathedrals that were built at the height of the Middle Ages.

There are Vikings on the ten-yard line, invading England and France.

On the fifteen-yard line, you can see the crashing end of the Roman Empire.

On the twenty-five yard line, you can see the highest point of Athenian culture— and see the Parthenon get built.

On the 37-yard line, you can watch the Trojan War.

On the ten-yard line, at the opposite end of the field, ninety yards away, you can see people planting crops and building houses here at Catalhoyuk.

In the most serious part of the dig, they are down 60 feet and still finding stuff.

And I’m there (I know you are eager to get to the lust part) and there’s a bus-load of university students there, and they are excited to see me (I’m the odd one here) and there was a lot of interaction.

And there’s this lovely young woman wearing a long traditional coat and a scarf, and she picked up a little something from the ground, and showed it to me— it was an ankle bone from a small sheep or goat.

Well, I fantasize about scoring real stuff, rather than tourist stuff, when I visit a place— I have rocks from lots of places: John Kennedy’s grave site, Thomas Jefferson’s garden, the battlefield at Hastings, sand from Omaha Beach, etc.

But not sheep ankle bones. . . .

And then the little tart picked up a small, worked piece of obsidian. Think of a thin arrowhead: hold it with the point down and mentally cut it horizontally in fourths— the piece she found was the second from the bottom.

Now I know that much of the stuff you find at such places is bogus— They bring in chips from marble quarries near Athens and scatter them around the top of the Acropolis, for instance.

And this place, Catalhoyuk, is a working archaeology site—it’s the only place I’ve been over here so far, including other current dig sites, where you had to have a guide go around with you.

And archaeology students usually learn to make flint and obsidian tools, in order to learn more about tool-making, and this fragment was probably something left over from that.

And I’d never steal/take anything like that if it were real.

But the idea of having something with the cachet of age, even if it was really modern, from a place that old was pretty consuming and I lust after that little obsidian shard so much that I almost thought of buying it from her or going back to find one of my own.

So there it is: Old agnostic man, young Muslim women, and a core of lust.

On the way north to Konya from there, I saw several clumps of tents, with laundry drying. There didn’t seem to be any areas nearby that needed lots of workers, so maybe these people are just camping out.

Then I got to Konya.

I had a map of Konya, I knew where I wanted to stay, I knew what it was near. But I hit town at Friday Sermon hour, and the streets were full.

I pulled over pretty close to where I wanted to be, and asked a couple of young women who wore walking by. They spoke enough English to communicate with me. They said to park the car, is it was easier to show me on foot.

But after I drove around for a couple of blocks and back looking for a place to park, they just jumped in the car and took me there. How sweet.

These are the two nicest young women I’ve met in Konya.

Originally written for Two Minutes in Turkey

posts by Robert