|This was the perfect complement to be reading during our hiking trip in Lycia. Challenged by the meagerness of the historical record of Alexander’s progress along the Lycian coast, Stark set out in the 1950s to retrace and discover his most likely trail. Alexander had come to Xanthos, then after starting to the north, towards Gordium, suddenly made a sharp change of direction towards current day Antalya. |
Stark travels the route in reverse, driving from Antakya (ancient Antioch) to Antalya. Today, several modern roads allow easy access to the historic sites she visited – Selge, Termessus, Phaselis, Phellus, Xanthos and others, but she journeyed by jeep and donkey, often on indistinct tracks. She mixes historical ruminations with her journal of travels among Turkey’s ever-hospitable people. Some of the things she described now seem as far away as Alexander, but much of her description serves as an apt guide for today’s traveler especially those who get off the roads and walk along the recently created long distance path, The Lycian Way.
Stark speaks of Alexander as the first to dream of a united world
“We have wandered to the unity of the world from the city state which was all that the Lycians could have known when the Macedonians came. These valleys had a culture of their own since the Bronze Age, but the most they had reached was a federation of separate units, which the Lycian League seem to have invented independently in the valley of the Xanthus. It was efficient enough to maintain their freedom… It was easier to love such places than the union of mankind. This fact is, I suppose, the origin of all wars and most of our troubles; and one can only attain the more universal view by travelling in body or in spirit and noticing how deeply most places are the same. This Alexander did; and the Transition must have been working in his mind along the Lycian coast, with the possibly unexpected kindness of a half-oriental world about him.”
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