Where will I go next year? ;)
My journey has come to an end, and I am back in the United States now. I want to thank all of my Turkish colleagues, collaborators and friends for making this trip so enjoyable. A special thanks to Dr. Ali Dönmez and Zübeyde Uğurlu for their collaboration, field expertise and hospitality!
During my last day in Turkey I traveled just outside of Ankara to visit the small town of Beypazarı. The town's historical significance is great; it was once a stop on the trade route between Istanbul and Baghdad. Now the city is famous for many things, but mostly carrots, baklava and güveç. I enjoyed a couple bottles of freshly juiced carrots, a specialty in the city and a great beverage for a hot day.
This dish, güveç, literally means earth pot. It features an array of spices, rice and lamb that is baked all together in a clay pot. Delicious!
One of my stops in the city was the "living museum" which is a nearly 200 year old preserved house turned museum. A walk through the museum simulates the daily life of families during the Ottoman Empire. The house was quite large with many rooms and an especially large hallway that was utilized as a familial gathering place. Typically these houses were inhabited by large families including great grandparents, grandparents, siblings, newly weds, children, etc. Above is a well preserved textile in the attic that would have been used to make clothing for the family, and to sell.
Our Dacia took a beating but it managed to get us to many remote locations with ease.
I was successful in collecting 25 accessions of Camelina from around central Anatolia but I was less successful in finding rare populations in the Black Sea region.
I managed to visit dozens of towns and cities that I hadn't seen in my previous trips which allowed me to further expand my cultural and historical understanding of this amazing country.
This was also my first trip in Turkey during the holy month of Ramazan. This presented additional obstacles to my travel, however ultimately it allowed me to gain a greater understanding of religion in Turkey.
Additionally, I was able to sample a wide variety of fruit trees. My taste-buds were tantalized by everything from crab apples, sour cherries and endemic figs to white mulberries (my favorite!).
Where will I go next year? ;)
I have been quite busy upon returning from the field trip. Mostly I have been processing seeds and organizing my collection records. I made several trips to the Hacettepe and Ankara Universities to meet with faculty, examine herbarium specimens and talk Camelina.
While looking at specimens deposited in the Ankara University herbarium, I made an interesting discovery, Camelina stiefelhagenii! Last year I examined the type specimen of this species at the Berlin Herbarium, and this year I had the chance to examine the only other collections known of this rare species. Interestingly, while the species was first described from a garbage dump in Dresen, Germany, these collections were made in Turkey in 1956, nearly 18 years later. There isn't any evidence that it has been collected since 1956, and I fear the possibility of Camelina stiefelhagenii taking the same path as Camelina anomala. Check out last year's field blog to learn more about these two interesting Camelina species.
Some amazing artwork in the middle of an Ankara mall, featuring the many different names of God written in Arabic scripts. It appears this art is on display in celebration of Ramazan.
My friends and family know that I have a weak spot... Sonoran hotdogs. While I haven't found any Sonoran dogs in Turkey, I did find something that tickled my fancy. This is an extremely loaded baked potato hot dog... thing. It's a hotdog, but with a baked potato instead of a bun. Filled with cheese, olives, mushrooms, corn, shredded meat, mayo and ketchup; this monster filled me up good!
We stopped in the historical city of Safranbolu , a UNESCO world heritage site. Here we ate some delicious food and shopped around for locally grown Saffron.
Most of the fields I searched looked similar to this; tall grasses and other herbaceous plants conceal the hidden teasure, gold of pleasure (Camelina).
This is a rather interesting Camelina hispida collection I made, while most plants of this species that I have collected have fruits that are adpressed to the inflorescence, this one has fruits that are relatively lax. Perhaps it's a hybrid?
Posing with a great find!
Processing seeds is tedious work! I must separate the large fruit pod debris with a strainer before meticulously removing the smaller particles from the seed.
Posing by the beach, in the background is the city of Sinop. Like many Turkish cities, Sinop has an amazing and lengthy history of civilizations. It belonged to the Persians before becoming the capital of the Kingdom of Pontus, eventually it was established as a Roman colony by Julius Caesar. Over the last two thousand years the city changed hands many many times, remnants of many of these civilizations remain preserved throughout the city.
Sometimes Turkish tea doesn't give the wake-up I need. I tried a Turkish energy drink sporting the logo of Fenerbahce soccer, a club team of Istanbul. It's just one of the many soccer clubs that the youth here are fanatic about.
While searching for Camelina along the Black Sea coast, we ran into a local villager who was foraging. Her haul included an impressive and delicious looking mushroom and some endemic plants.
Driving along the narrow, windy Black Sea roads yielded an abundance of beauty.
I take a refreshing dip into the Black Sea after a long day of field work.
Today we decided to search for Camelina on remote roads in order to obtain potentially isolated populations.
This steppe is my jam!
While taking the beaten path, we stumbled upon a fish farm in the middle of nowhere. The owner prides himself on his sustainability; all electricity used in his home and restaurant is produced by hydroelectric power and the vegetables are grown in his gardens.
Hannibal, the cat, eyes our fresh trout.
Holding tanks for the various life stages of fish that are raised on this farm.
Tea hits the spot after a long day of field work!
We stopped in the small city of Amasya, it's beautifully lit at night! I wish I had more time to explore the city, it boasts a rich history thought to date back 7,500 years.
Dr. Dönmez and I discuss our routes for our field work which will start tomorrow. We plan on exploring the steppe regions of central Anatolia before heading to the central black sea region.
I had another opportunity to check the previous collections of Camelina that are located in the Haceteppe herbarium. I also examined other genera from the family Brassicaceae to get a better understanding of the family, its distribution, and what I should expect to see in the field.
During my time at Haceteppe University I was able to explore their steppe-like landscape and I was able to locate several species of Camelina within the University's garden area.
Flowers of Camelina hispida.
We ended up renting what I believe to be the same exact car that we used in the field in 2012, the trusty Dacia.
I had another wonderful opportunity extended to me, this time a short field trip to the city of Bursa.
Bursa got its name when the former greek city Cius was given up to the king of Bithynia, Prusias. The city then became known as Prusa, it changed hands many times, formerly roman and even the capital of the Ottoman empire. Now the city is known as Bursa and it is known in Turkey for its famous archaeology, mosques and textile industry.
Of the many places I visited, one of the most prominent was Orhan Gazi's tomb. This tomb was built on the foundations of an ancient Byzantium monastery and much of this is still visible within the tomb.
Posing at the Green Tomb of Sultan Çelebi Mehmet at the Yeşil complex.
I had been hoping to do some shopping at some of the amazing and ancient bazaars in Bursa but unfortunately nearly all shops and restaurants were closed due to Ramazan.
During Ramazan Bursa has a tradition of shooting a cannon from this large tower overlooking the city to signal the end of fasting and the beginning of the feast. Now, instead of shooting off a real cannon, a loud sound bomb is shot at sundown.
I joined a post-conference field trip with students and faculty of Osmangazi University to historic sites around Eskişehir.
Battal Gazi monument commemorating an 8th century military leader named Abdullah al-Battal
A view overlooking the city of Seyitgazi.
I made my first Camelina collections during the congress field trip, this one looks like Camelina rumelica to me, but I also collected a Camelina microcarpa. This is turning out to be a great start to my field work!
The second stop on the trip was to Midas city in Yazılıkaya. This is an amazing complex of ancient tunnels, carved rock, and the foundations of roads and houses. These Phrygian ruins date back to at least the 7th century BCE and they are well preserved. Ancient tunnel systems remain in good condition and it is believed that a large underground city may exist under the site.
A silly prank involving bedstraw that I learned from the greatest of them all. Thanks Mark!
Some Turkish dancing on the bus ride back to Eskişehir, the whole bus was entertained to say the least.
This was the last day of the conference and I had a chance to say goodbye to all of my new friends. Luckily I have made many new contacts during my time at the congress which may lead to additional collaboration.
Many students of Osmangazi University helped to arrange and set up the event, they were distinguished by their light blue shirts. Thanks to these students the 22nd National Biology Congress went without a hitch.
My new friend, Okan, and I pose for a quick pic.
I enjoyed presenting my research to the scientists and students at the poster sessions, I got asked a lot of really good questions.
I was graciously invited to a professor's lab at Osmangazi University to learn more about their work studying scorpion venom. I was impressed not only with the quality of the lab but also its cleanliness.
This scorpion says hello.
Dr.Yılmaz Büyükerşen is not only mayor of Eskişehir, he's also a famous wax sculptor. His museum holds his recreations of famous celebrities, ottoman sultans and even the Eskişehir soccer team! The central figure of this picture is, of course, Ataturk.
Eskişehir's historic district is a well preserved relic of the past.