Today we had a plan for the discovery to locate a Cave near Ephesus called Aslanli Yaren Cave. Given the lack of information about the cave, there were no precise instructions for the road.
With the possibility of not finding it, we already needed some recent pictures of Kirazli village so we already needed to drive to Kirazli which is 12kms from Kusadasi and 15kms from Ephesus.
This particular location was actually one of the main Water Sources of Ancient Ephesus more than 2000 years ago.
The longest aqueduct to Ephesus was 42 kms and it was starting from Degirmendere district between Kusadasi and Kirazli Village. Aslanli cave was supposed to be in between the Actual water spring and the village of Kirazli.
The altitude is around 250 meters at this location so we drove a little high up and reached the Water Spring.
It was already after noon, and me and my friend were getting a little hungry, and not knowing where to head exactly we thought it would be a nice idea to stop at a local diner right near the water springs.
Along to way from Kusadasi to Kirazli village, there are some new eateries, diners and farm restaurants recently opened. This particular one was called Sultan Sofrasi and was built right into the rock hills and the landscape was spectacular.
On the way to the entrance of restaurant I two dogs started coming towards us and after realizing that we are harmless they became friends with us in seconds and saw a group of people looking like the family who owned the place, and asked if they are open and have some hot tea.
They greeted us so friendly and welcomed us in.
I asked the proprietor if he knew where this Aslanli Cave was. I had asked it to some other locals of the village a while ago and no one had a clue.
And this gentleman not looking so sure gave me some directions on the way to the village.
I explained that my wife is experiencing some respiratory problems and allergic asthma recently so I said I would give it a try and find Aslanli cave which was supposedly good for certain health problems.
After drinking our tea, we ordered some food me the mixed fried vegetables, and my friend ordered famous Turkish Manti (Ravioli)
The food came fast, waiter was a very friendly and helpful young man named Samet.
But I realized the homemade thick bread Samet brought to us was warmed and had a strange smell and it was probably going bad after a day or two.
And some of my fried aubergines were cut so thick that they weren't cooked properly.
And the flavors kind of not there compared to the same dish I had yesterday in Kusadasi downtown at a home-cook restaurant. That dish was something else.
And the price here was also a little high which is normal given the stunning landscape, the location and lack of business potential.
Anyways, at least we were warmed up and stomachs were full.
We are ready to get going with our day of adventure.
So we hop in our van and drove around 2 miles before reaching Kirazli, took a sharp left turn to a mountain path, which splits to two sides after a few hundred yards,.
One going up to the left was our first choice but seeing road condition with large pebbles we decided to stop and drove back to the junction where we parked the van started walking from the Easter path to the right.
Once the Pine forest took over the vineyards, we saw couple of other mountain trails going to the West (left). But we didn't take any continuing our way to East side of the valley, finally seeing a hut but no signs of anybody present there. Then we had 200 yards more and saw beekeepers at work around the bee boxes. Not wanting to disturb the bees from a distance we asked if they knew any Caves around. Most beekeepers are mobile and they are not locals to the areas, so knowing this I reckoned they had no clue about a cave.
As I was walking I thought of Ephesus, because the City’s symbol was the Bee.
You could have seen the Bee depictions minted on the city coins of Ephesus. It was probably symbolizing the pollination hence abundance and fertility. Even the name of Ephesus was derived from ‘Apasas’, ‘Api’ meaning Bee like ‘Abej’ in French and ‘Abeja’ in Spanish.
Apasas, or Apisas meant the Queen Bee referring to the Amazon Warrior Queen who colonized the Area around 4000 years ago. As we see these Amazon warriors depicted in the friezes of so called Temple of Hadrian in Ephesus. The ones in the museum are original relieves, the ones at the site are replicas.
Ancient beekeepers around Ephesus must have been like these two fellows. They must have used the same hidden valleys to get the best of their ancient honey.
I made a little research about the Ancient traditions of Beekeeping in the Antiquity.
So the Statues of Mother Goddess Artemis of Ephesus also had the Bee depictions on her belt and also on the skirts.
I learned that there is a cave painting find from Spain that is as old as 9000 years.
And in Jordan Valley of Israil there is a behive find from 3000 years ago.
Behives made out of unbaked clay and straw were found.
Honeycombs are perishable it is almost impossible to find but near Milano during an excavation of an Etruscan trade center, archaeologists found a 2500 years old charred honey comb. And analysis showed the there was a pollen from a grapevine in that honeycomb.
From Ancient writers and philosophers Aristotle talked about beekeeping in detail also the Roman writers Pliny the Elder, Virgil are some of the ones who discussed honey, beekeeping on their books.
In the Bible there are 4 mentions of the Bees in the Bible (Deuteronomy 1:44, Judges 14:8, Psalm 118:12, Isaiah 7:18)
I also looked at the Honey production numbers in the world and
it turns out Turkey with 8.2 million metric tons is the biggest producer in Europe, and the second biggest in Asia after China. And the third biggest in the World after China, Argentina.
And there are 4.5 million beehives in Turkey according to a research made in 2005.
But the high ground was lovely with open are not much trees, it was green grass, meadows and a Symbolic Tomb next to a Juniper tree. The tomb allegedly belong to YARAN Dede. Important village elders, clerics, religious heads mostly remembered for generations with such tombs in almost every village in Turkey.
This tradition must have been coming all the way from the Roman period because in the Ancient City of Ephesus, most of the monumental public structures such as fountains, library, war memorials were also either Family Tombs or Monumental Heroon Tombs of important political, military and social Icons.
For example Fountain of Pollio, Memmius Monument, Trajan Fountain and even the Library of Celsus were some of the most important monumental tombs of Ephesus.
During the private ephesus tours, these tombs are the most photographed structures.
The area was very peaceful, we enjoyed a nice break and enjoying sun warming our necks.
I realized the mountain trail actually continues making a circle around the hill and probably merging with the main asphalt road between Kusadasi and Kirazli. Since we left the car on the other end of the mountain, we couldn't follow the trail, although we knew that we could have seen some nice scenery, maybe we leave to next time.
Yes, it was a failure in terms of locating the Cave but still it was one good adventure out in nature with remarkably nice weather for a December.
As we were walking down the same road, I was thinking about the Name written on the Tomb Stone 'YARAN' Dede.
Because the word YARAN means PIERCING.
Or I was thinking they made a local twist or a mistake using the word YAREN which means FRIEND and the Cave was named after Aslanli or Yaren cave.
So solving this mystery of words I thought to myself that the actual location of the cave mustn't be far from the Tomb.
In my next adventure I am hoping to be more fortunate and finally will find this Yaren Cave.