War is a waste.

Posted by jswt | Posted in Turkey - Gallipoli, Turkey - Troy | Posted on 22-02-2011


On Monday, a tour was set up for a few of us to get out of town and go see some sights outside of Istanbul.

It was a long (and psychotic) drive to our first ferry over to the Asian peninsula for our first stop in Troy, of Trojan Horse fame. In the 1860s, excavation began on what was once a weathy seaside city, that over a few millennia, had been eaten up by the planet and reduced to some grassy knolls. Underneath, they found 6 iterations of a city that’d existed since at least the 3rd millenium BC. The city is slowly being excavated, but they have to do it slowly and carefully, as each time they dig down a further level, they destroy the level above. It was an amazing feeling to be standing on top of 6 levels of history – 6 seperate cities that’d been built on top of eachother, that were thousands and thousands of years old, and that’d just sank back into the earth.

(Side note: Anyone who ever makes the claim that God created man 7000 years ago has just never travelled… Rome and Troy make that ignorance simply irrelevant.)

Next, we hopped back in the bus, grabbed some lunch, and headed over another ferry to Gallipoli, the site of the Gallipoli Campaign in World War One, where over 500,000 people were killed over 8 months as allied troops (mainly Australian and New Zealand – known also as ANZAC) tried to work their way into Russia via Turkey but never made it more than a kilometre or so from shore.

To be honest, as a Canadian with limited historic knowledge, I was unfamiliar with the site, but visiting with 3 Australians and having spoken to some australians I’d become aware of how profound the battle was, and the impact it had on their countries. In Canada we celebrate Rememberance Day, whereas AU and NZ celebrate ANZAC day.

Visiting the site you can’t help but wonder what they were thinking: the landscape is vicious mountainous terrain that’d give anyone on top an unsurmountable homefield advantage. They accidentally ended up landed there due to currents and wind, but I couldn’t figure out how/why they didn’t retreat and attempt to gain ground somewhere more accessible. Poor management decisions that resulted in the loss of over 250,000 australian and new zealand lives.

Set against the backdrop of a cresting wave of populist movements across the middle east, you wonder if battles like that really change history or if they’re a temporary distraction of a longterm timeline of unavoidable humanitarian evolution. Almost 100 years later, even just to ask “who won anything there” seems almost irrelevant, but the scars still show strong on the psyches of affected nations. No matter what, for me, it’s hard to see battles like this as anything but a completely pointless waste of souls…

After a cold and sullen afternoon, we bussed 5hrs back to Istanbul, stopping only for a nice kebab dinner in a small town off the highway… A very, very long day, not filled with joy and revelry, but meaningfully heavy on the history.