National Geographic : 1909 Jan
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE in the old town of Braunschweig, in Germany. On returning from a visit to the Niobe (see page 3) I was fortunate in meet ing with a Turkish wedding procession. A wedding in a Turkish town or village is an event which calls for proper cele bration-at least, the volume of noise made carries that impression to the stranger. At the head of the procession in question six drummers marched, vig orously beating cowhide drums, while in the row next behind came the fifers blowing shrill blasts on tin and willow whistles. The bride was seated in a large screened sedan chair, which was strapped to the backs of two mules. Fol lowing in some ten closed carriages came the usual coterie of veiled women, while the men marched at the sides or between the carriages. Manisa, so legend has it, was founded by the Amazons before the time when history began to be chronologically re corded. The history of the city has been a checkered one, as it belonged at various times to the Lydian, Persian, Roman, Byzantine, and Turkish empires. Manisa seems, however, to have remained more or less uninfluenced by Attic and Ionic civilization. Under the reign of Tiberius the city was destroyed by an earthquake and rebuilt by that emperor. During the days of the Crusaders the city flour ished, and many bright chapters were added to romantic history by the deeds of John Ducas and the Catalan Roger de Flor. In 1402 Tamerlane ravaged Asia Minor and made a storehouse of Ma nisa for the plundered wealth of Smyrna, Sardes, and other populous cities throughout the country. The mosques of Manisa are consid ered to be exceptionally fine, and any one interested in the art and architecture of such structures should visit this town. Some of them are reconstructed old By zantine churches, in which many traces of Christian worship may still be seen. One of the sights which the Turks show with considerable pride in one mosque is an old Genoese clock, the machinery of which seems still to work in perfect order. Magnesia ad Sipylum was the birth place and home of Pausanias. Under the reigns of Hadrian and the Anto nines he traveled extensively in Asia Minor, Syria, Egypt, Greece, and Italy. Ten books were the fruit of these jour neys, and next to the works of Pliny they are looked upon today as an au thority not only upon the subjects of an tique art, but upon the topography of these countries as well. About an hour's drive from Manisa, and immediately at the foot of Mount Sipylus, there are many ancient ruins,. such as rock-cut tombs, caves, mounds,. and upon a very high peak an acropolis. Above all there is the rock-hewn image of the Niobe. There seems to be con siderable controversy on this point among archeologists, but that we have before us the huge figure of a woman in, a sitting posture there can be no doubt. The figure is about 30, feet in height and can easily be seen from the valley below. During most of the year water drips over the face, thus fulfilling the old description, of the Niobe who wept for her children' (see illustration, page 3). About 700 feet above the Niobe, on an almost inaccessible peak, is a mauso leum supposed by many to be the true tomb of Tantalus. There are also dis tinct traces of small rooms or dwellings which have been chiseled into the rocks. The mountain at this point is disfigured by deep rifts and chasms, the home of numerous vultures, and it is impossible for the stranger to get to the top without an experienced guide. Just below the Niobe, beyond a little lake which catches the waters of the snow that melts on Mount Sipylus, stretches the plain of Magnesia, where that great battle was fought in 190 B. C., which was not only one of the great bat tles of history, but in many respects one of the most decisive, for it gave the Ro mans Asia Minor and marked the last futile attempt of Hannibal to check the expansion of Rome.