`Ancient Ruins in Amos, Turkey - Olive Oil Times

Ancient Ruins in Amos, Turkey

Dec. 4, 2012
Gretta Schifano

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The ruins of the ancient city of Amos over­look Kumlubük bay on the Bozburun penin­sula in south-west Turkey. My fam­ily and I were guests at the nearby Dionysos hotel. One after­noon my hus­band and I walked from our red-roofed villa through groves of fruit and olive trees to the south-east cor­ner of the hotel grounds and on down the moun­tain to Amos. It took us about twenty min­utes going there, but longer to climb back up.

The uneven path is marked by red cir­cles painted on rocks, and winds through a dense mix­ture of myr­tle, gorse, holly, carob and wild olive with del­i­cate pink cycla­men blooms pok­ing through the rocks here and there. We met nobody on the path, but Annabel Elsdon, the hotel’s guest rela­tions man­ager, had told us that wild ani­mals also use it, and we did see places where the earth had been dug up by wild boar in their search for food. Annabel told us that por­cu­pines, tor­toises, foxes, hares and a pair of eagles also live on the moun­tain­side, but we didn’t see any of them on our walk, sadly.

When we arrived at Amos we found that we had the place to our­selves. We walked through groves of wild olive trees, which I imag­ined were descended from trees cul­ti­vated by Amos’ orig­i­nal inhab­i­tants. There were signs in Turkish and English explain­ing the his­tory of the place, and we read that the grey stone city walls we could see around the set­tle­ment date from the Hellenistic period (323 BC — 31 BC) and were orig­i­nally four meters high and two meters across. We strolled through the ancient ruins to the amphithe­ater which has 1,300 seats and panoramic views across the Mediterranean towards the dis­tant city of Marmaris.

Ahmet Şenol, the hos­pitable owner of the Dionysos estate, cre­ated the hotel out of the moun­tain­side — it took just nine­teen months to exca­vate the rocky ter­rain and com­plete the hotel, build­ing around mature olive trees as well as plant­ing new ones. Today his estate boasts around 1,500 olive trees, which pro­duce high qual­ity extra vir­gin olive oil. The day before our walk, Ahmet had told me that exca­va­tions at Amos had found a third cen­tury BC land rental agree­ment on a stone tablet. The agree­ment stated that the ten­ant had to plant an olive tree every year. As I sat in the stone ter­races of the amphithe­ater look­ing out across the Mediterranean I reflected that some val­ues are time­less, and Ahmet is con­tin­u­ing an ancient tra­di­tion.

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