The Fallout

Temple of Apollo in Didyma
Temple of Apollo in Didyma

Text by Glenn Maffia

Last week's news of the corporate dinner party enacted at the Temple of Apollo produced a scything criticism from those whom I know here in Didim. Certainly, that was most welcoming to learn that we truly do have people in this town who have high regard for our magnificent temple and the sanctity of our historical past. Such regard may not be so forthcoming in many areas of our town, from all levels of this society. Though this I feel is primarily due to a lack of education upon the subject.

I most definitely do not see any places where this fascinating knowledge can be obtained, and I would prefer it to be free information thus allowing all to benefit from its opportunities. Some may point to our tour companies for such an insight; alas most do not even supply a guided tour of the Temple. Whilst those that do, coming from other destinations, I've observed are worse than useless.

Across the globe

The main sources of feedback I received were from the websites I contribute to and my professional contacts back in Europe. These were numerous and proficient in their eloquence, raining in from across the globe. From the professional echelons, there was the reverberating echo of utter disdain and an almost audible resigned sigh.

I have always refrained from naming my sources, sometimes, but not always, at their request. The comments flowed with knowledge and lucidity; "If the Temple were a (UNESCO) World Heritage Site the Turkish authorities could not allow this act," "Goes back to the time when they once allowed concerts in the Adyton (inner sanctum)," wrote another.

One was angry but perplexed, "I cannot believe Koç Holdings would have done this, they profess to support archaeology." I shall not recount all the comments and messages I received, for as I mentioned, they were innumerable, though the majority were in this vein.

A murmur of retort

It was merely a handful, but I must report their opinions which sided with this unfortunate event. The crucial statement which emanated from their volitions were that if the dinner party were a 'fundraising event,' and no one has said it was, for the continuance of the Temple's existence and general good health of the site then this was fine.

Others stated that the religious activities in the ancient rituals would have been much more boisterous than a meek dinner party accompanied by a light operetta, and if there was no damage or littering of the site, then all would be quite in order.

Some others merely appeared perturbed by my use of adjectives... I dismissed those immediately.

A retort to the retort

They put forward valid points, sometimes with a little too much vehemence, but were grounded substantially in a very modern materialistic world of the 21st century. Especially the emphasis on money in the 'fundraising' comments. These well-meaning individuals, obviously, come from countries which do not have free admittance to public museums and art galleries which we enjoy in Britain. Their states charge tax-payers to see that which they own.

Do only those that can afford and desire culture go there, and the less affluent omitted upon financial grounds? Education should always be free. Of the second, and less stressed view, of the boisterous 'religious activities of the ancients', well, that is easy to dismiss. Namely, that it was their activities, in their time, and in their religious place of worship for them to perform whatever brought them closer to that euphoria of religious frenzy. We, simply, are the custodians of their history and should not attempt to emulate the ancient's actions. Thus, allowing us to precisely preserve those moments in time. That is not too difficult to understand, is it?

Whilst as to Aydın Province's Director of Culture and Tourism, Murat Yilmaz,'s comment that mats were placed under every chair (and piano I assume) to protect the "historical texture," is not witnessed by photographic evidence.