A recent visit to the south west coast of Turkey took Gary and I to some amazing places and this is the first of a collection of images and notes about the inspiring and beautiful things we found. I lived on a small sailing boat for three years, and sailed around the south coast of Turkey and the Greek Islands for three years in the early 1980′s and did not want to come back to Turkey in case tourism had spoiled it irrevocably – but my experience was that despite the developments of the last 30 years, it is still turquoise, clear and calm.
Kekova Roads is an enclosed bay protected by the 4 mile long Kekova Island in Lycian Turkey. The lovely village of Kalekoy (ancient Simena) had no road when I first visited – truly magical and unspoilt. The area is a Lycian site with a small castle, sarcophagae, and sunken ruins visible underwater all around. The partially sunken ruins of the ancient village of Aperlae , and the evidence of lost buildings, can only be seen by boat and are just beautiful.
So, back to the colour purple and Aperlae : The economy here was built around the production of Tyrian dye, a deep and costly purple gleaned from a snail Murex trunculus (which has been reclassified as Hexaplex trunculus). It is said to have cost 20 times its weight in gold. It probably took about 12,000 snails to produce 1.4 grams or 0.05 oz. Three ceramic lined vats found in the sunken district are suggested to have been holding tanks for the live snails until there were enough to be processed. The dye was exported to Andriake, which was the international emporium for nearby Myra, for shipment to textile centres throughout the Mediterranean.
As someone who has spent years painting dye into silk I was delighted to discover this connection in 2013 – when I first visited and fell in love with this place, in 1985, I knew nothing about it , and had not begun what has since become a lifelong commitment.