Chapter XXII. The Forests of Phrygia.
The Frontier of Phrygia - Ancient Quarries and Tombs - We Enter the Pine
Forests - A Guard-House - Encampments of the Turcomans - Pastoral
Scenery - A Summer Village - The Valley of the Tombs - Rock Sepulchres of
the Phrygian Kings - The Titan's Camp - The Valley of Kuembeh - A Land of
Flowers - Turcoman Hospitality - The Exiled Effendis - The Old Turcoman - A
Glimpse of Arcadia - A Landscape - Interested Friendship - The Valley of
the Pursek - Arrival at Kiutahya.
"And round us all the thicket rang
To many a flute of Arcady." Tennyson.
Kiutahya, July 5, 1852.
We had now passed through the ancient provinces of Cilicia, Cappadocia, and Lycaonia, and reached the confines of Phrygia - a rude mountain region, which was never wholly penetrated by the light of Grecian civilization. It is still comparatively a wilderness, pierced but by a single high-road, and almost unvisited by travellers, yet inclosing in its depths many curious relics of antiquity. Leaving Bolawaduen in the morning, we ascended a long, treeless mountain-slope, and in three or four hours reached the dividing ridge - -the watershed of Asia Minor, dividing the affluents of the Mediterranean and the central lakes from the streams that flow to the Black Sea. Looking back, Sultan Dagh, along whose base we had travelled the previous day, lay high and blue in the background, streaked with shining snow, and far away behind it arose a still higher peak, hoary with the lingering winter. We descended into a grassy plain, shut in by a range of broken mountains, covered to their summits with dark-green shrubbery, through which the strata of marble rock gleamed like patches of snow. The hills in front were scarred with old quarries, once worked for the celebrated Phrygian marble. There was neither a habitation nor a human being to be seen, and the landscape had a singularly wild, lonely, and picturesque air.
Turning westward, we crossed a high rolling tract, and entered a valley entirely covered with dwarf oaks and cedars. In spite of the dusty road, the heat, and the multitude of gad-flies, the journey presented an agreeable contrast to the great plains over which we had been travelling for many days. The opposite side of the glen was crowned with a tall crest of shattered rock, in which were many old Phrygian tombs. They were mostly simple chambers, with square apertures. There were traces of many more, the rock having been blown up or quarried down - the tombs, instead of protecting it, only furnishing one facility the more for destruction. After an hour's rest at a fountain, we threaded the windings of the glen to a lower plain, quite shut in by the hills, whose ribs of marble showed through the forests of oak, holly, cedar, and pine, which dotted them. We were now fully entered into the hill-country, and our road passed over heights and through hollows covered with picturesque clumps of foliage. It resembled some of the wild western downs of America, and, but for the Phrygian tombs, whose doorways stared at us from every rock, seemed as little familiar with the presence of Man.
Hadji Youssuf, in stopping to arrange some of the baggage, lost his hold of his mule, and in spite of every effort to secure her, the provoking beast kept her liberty for the rest of the day. In vain did we head her off, chase her, coax her, set traps for her: she was too cunning to be taken in, and marched along at her ease, running into every field of grain, stopping to crop the choicest bunches of grass, or walking demurely in the caravan, allowing the hadji to come within arm's length before she kicked up her heels and dashed away again. We had a long chase through the clumps of oak and holly, but all to no purpose. The great green gad-flies swarmed around us, biting myself as well as my horse. Hecatombs, crushed by my whip, dropped dead in the dust, but the ranks were immediately filled from some invisible reserve. The soil was no longer bare, but entirely covered with grass and flowers. In one of the valleys I saw a large patch of the crimson larkspur, so thick as to resemble a pool of blood. While crossing a long, hot hill, we came upon a little arbor of stones, covered with pine branches. It inclosed an ancient sarcophagus of marble, nearly filled with water. Beside it stood a square cup, with a handle, rudely hewn out of a piece of pine wood. This was a charitable provision for travellers, and constantly supplied by the Turcomans who lived in the vicinity.