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AT KOZAK PLATEAU

Kozak Plateau is a little bit like granite, a little bit like pine nut. Villagers wrap themselves around the bodies of pine nut trees during harvest.

 Kozak Plateaus is the water that seeps from Madran Mountain towards Pergamum; Kozak Plateau is life Madra..

Article: İbrahim Fidanoğlu

 

Today, a dirty stream inside Bergama flows into the plain. Sometimes it flows and sometimes it just seeps towards Bakırçay. Stories from both sides of Bergama come to life after a cloudy morning. A part of this historical adventure witnesses the voyage of a series of aqueducts from the Roman period towards the acropolis. Another story about water worth telling in Bergama is the story of Selinus, a stream which has been instrumental in the history of Bergama. 

The valley where the aqueducts meet the acropolis and the steam bed created by Bergama Stream connect at the entrance of Bergama. Leather tanning factories, located at the heart of Bergama in the 19th century, were typical scenes.

Today, Bergama Stream has a unique historical value with bridges from the Roman and Ottoman periods, Ulu Mosque located on the outskirts of the acropolis, Greek houses built in the 19th century, remains of the Serapis Temple and the 19th century Jewish quarter.

After passing by Tekkeboğazı region located towards the Kozak exit in Bergama a climb towards Kozak begins. On this journey, you are accompanied by Selinus which never leaves you on the right side of the road and Roman period aqueducts with 20 arches on the left.

Bergama water channels

Here is what we know about the water problem in Bergama in the antique world: In the beginning, the water needs of Pergamum were met by Kestel and Bergama streams. Since the Acropolis Hill where the city was built was 335 meters, water needs must have been met with aqueducts in the acropolis. When the settlement grew, these aqueducts were not enough and small water channels in the area were used. Water was brought over from a source on Madra Mountain with clay pipes.

 

The land inclined from Madra Mountain to the acropolis and this created a suitable environment for water channels. Water that was taken from this spot was gathered in a pool on Arlık Hill. After these waters were cleaned, they were pressurized and carried to the acropolis. However, in order for the water to reach the acropolis, it need it pass through two hills and valleys between these hills. Since the city expanded under the acropolis during the Roman period, water had become even more important. In order to eliminate this problem, water channels with arches were built. Remains of two arches along these roads can be seen today under the acropolis, in the valley between the hills.

 

There is no concrete evidence regarding when the highly pressurized water system was built in Bergama. The water reached the highest point of the acropolis and we don't know how they solved this problem too. However, some remains have been dated to 2nd century B.C. These water channels consist of 240 thousand soil pipes, approximately 50-75 cm. in length. We have evidence that the high pressurized water system was also used during the Roman period.

 

Here is what Wolfgang Radt, the head of the Bergama excavations, said about the aqeuducts in the Bergama Archeological Guide:

“Bergama water channels are clearly visible on the northern tip of the Arsenal area in the acropolis. Remains of the aqueducts we see here must have been from the Roman Empire period, (probably 2nd century B.C.)

Hellenistic water channels were built in 2nd century B.C. These water channels consist of 240 thousand soil pipes, approximately 50-75 cm. in length. In the north, the channel starts at Madra Mountain and reaches the vicinity of Bergama after 45 kilometers and ends in a pool located on a hill across acropolis hill. From there, it reaches Bergama Castle with underground led pipes after passing through two low hills. Led pipes were passed through holes in large rocks and fixed to the ground. The expansion of this high pressurized system can be seen as a sunken line. The water channel enters the castle from the north. Water was probably sent to the cisterns of the palace, houses and fountains of the city from a central storage via soil pipes.

The expanding population of Bergama during the Roman period and big new baths got their water from Kozak Mountains and Soma (approx. 80 kilometers away) via other water channels and aqeuducts.”

Bergama aqeuducts

It is not that difficult to pass Bergama (Selinus) Stream to walk to the aqeuducts that are clearly visible from the Kozak Plateau road. Although Selinus doesn't flow today, the bases of the bridges built during the Roman period were manufactured to withstand a strong flow. However, there is no flow and no giant bases today.

 

Kestel Dam Lake is located behind the aqeuducts that resemble a caravan from a far. Kestel and Bergama streams merge on a plain below Bergama and create Bakırçay. This reminds us of another water story; the story of Kaikos (Bakırçay in the antique age) that ends in the antique age port of Bergama called Elaia, known as Kazık Bağları today.

 

When you climb the slope that leads to the outskirt you will see a series of magnificent aqeuducts from the Roman period. Some of the building blocks of these aqeuducts located on a ridge now covered with olive trees, can be seen scattered in the area. Stone rings used in these structures are impressive.

 

20 aqeuducts, some in good shape and some not, are aligned like beads towards Aya Yorgi Hill. The aqeuducts are located between Kestel Dam Lake and the valley and the view is amazing. This historical water channel which we think continued towards Aya Yorgi Hill from above the arches, passed through the valley with a series of arches that no longer exist and must have reached the acropolis of Pergamum with the reverse flush tank system. 

To Kozak

 

The heart of Kozak, located within the triangle of Yukarıbey, Aşağıbey and Kaplan, is an important basin that consists of a series of nomad settlements within pine nut forests. Bergama The elevation that continues along the valley where Bergama Stream flows reaches 500 meters at Kozak Plateau. The flora made up from red pine trees and sycamores gives way to pine nuts trees at Kozak Plateau.

 

Yukarıbey village, also known as Kozak, is the center of the region. The cones of pine nut trees, the main source of income for the region, is picked carefully by the people of the village. Cones that are gathered are placed under the sun and the nuts begin to emerge. In the past, the nuts were handpicked but now this is done with a machine called patoz. There are facilities on the plateau that deal with this process. Today, a kilo of pine nut- rich in nutrition- costs about 100-150 TL. Nearly 20 villages that engage in this type of agriculture can be seen as the rich settlements in the area. You can buy packaged pine nuts in grocery stores in Yukarıbey village.

 

Kozak is also famous for its very tasty black grapes. There are huge black grape vineyards on the southern slopes of the plateau towards Ayvalık. This grape, also known as Kozak grape, is very pricey and delicious. You can taste wines made from this grape during a trip to Perperene antique city in autumn.

 

Perperene antique city

After passing the Aşağıbey village road, another intersection in the north leads to an antique Roman period settlement in rural Bergama. If it is autumn, you will see vine stocks, yellow dry leaves, the deep green of pine nut trees towards the mountain, a granite paved road, yard fences and doors within doors; creating a magnificent panorama.

 

This road will take you to Perperene antique city, an old Roman settlement. Villagers who are cleaning up after the harvest will guide you in this geography that includes giant rocks and pine nut trees.

 

You can see remains of columns, walls, cut stones, granite doorjambs, the base of a structure that resembles a temple and Hellenistic wall pieces at the site. Aşağıbey village, located across the city, seems to be pointing to the antique settlement. It is believed that a church was built above the temple during the Byzantine era.

 

Perperene, during the Bergama Kingdom period, was built as an agricultural city. We came across remains of the rectangular planned agora on the upper hill. The rows of columns and the religious structure further ahead, were located around the agora. The theatre of the city is located within the shrubbery in the southwest of the agora and is supported by a natural rocky base. Some bleachers remain intact and steps are visible. All the structures of the city are spread on a wide and rugged space. Pine nuts, vineyards that house the famous grapes of Kozak Plateau, fences made from shrubs and yard doors seem to have taken over the city. Granite columns that have been placed on both sides of a pen almost turns the pen into an antique age temple.

 

We know that the city minted its own coins during the reign of Roma emperor Septimius Severus. The city's name was changed to Theodosioupolis before the visit of Byzantine Emperor Theodosius. The name Perperene must have come from the Mysia language.

 

There are a series of nomad settlements on both sides of the road that leads to Ayvalık from the plateau. These are clean and neat settlements with homes made from granite walls. The villages of Aşağıbey and Kaplan are must see nomad settlements in this regard. For example, life that evolved under a giant sycamore tree planted in the 40's by villagers, has become the symbol of Kaplan village. The giant tree, which feeds from the water source beneath it, casts such a wide shadow that you can spend the entire summer under it.

 

After you exit Kaplan village, you will see a green sea covered with pine nut trees and deep valleys. The deep tracks left by trucks who come to this magnificent geography which is under threat because of probes into a recently discovered gold mine, are like the harbinger of the potential threat that awaits nature. The winding downward road from Dikili leads to an area near Nebiler village called The Waterfall of Lovers and Nebiler hot springs. The cold water that comes from the cave between the rocks where the waterfall is located flows to the edge of the waterfall and continues to the plain below, covered with sycamore trees. The Waterfall of Lovers, which is a picnic area designed as terraces, is a hidden paradise in Dikili, especially during summer.

 A naive sculptor in Çamavlu; Mustafa Yılmaz

Çamavlu village is located a little further away from Yukarıbey; at the end of a green sea made up of pine nut trees. The road that passes through the village and leads to Madra Mountain, tells a sad story. The story begins in front of a two storey house at the entrance of the village, covered in naive statues carved from granite blocks. This house belongs to Mustafa Yılmaz; a shepherd from İvrindi, a sculptor, an orphan.

 

Mustafa Yılmaz is a man who knows the value of what he has and transforms his feelings to stone. We cannot imagine how he was affected by the fact that his mother left him when he was only a child. What we know is that his childhood, spent on the wide meadow, has had a great influence on him. He lived most of his life in huts that the nomads call gerge. Mustafa Yılmaz, who was born in 1939, was a shepherd for a long time and later on made money through stone workmanship. One day, he starts carving stones after interpreting a dream and thus begins his life as a naive sculptor.

 

First he begins by building a house and pool at the entrance of the village. The walls of his two-storey house are filled with memories that reflect his life. Later on, he starts thinking about global matters and begins carving stones with thoughts of peace and tolerance. He works on carving America's invasion of Iraq, Turkey's membership process to the EU, the Turkish War of Independance, Fatih the Conqueror, Ataturk and İsmet Inonu. He becomes famous; even foreign tourists come to visit him and give him commissions. In short, he becomes a global figure and spreads his feelings to the world by carving his imagination onto granite.

Here is what Mustafa Yılmaz says when we ask him why he does what he does:

“In order to remember…” he says and adds:

“I owe everything to our government. I did these to pay them back.”

How great for Mustafa Yılmaz and all those people who give back to their country …