THE FIRST BEAUTY CONTEST IN THE WORLD
Paris, a Trojan prince, having won Helen as his prize for judging a beauty contest between the goddesses Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite, abducted her from her Greek husband Menelaus and transported her to Troy. The Greeks, enraged by this audacity and devastated by the loss of the most beautiful woman in the world, set sail to Troy and began the long siege of the city.
According to legend (The Iliad by Homer), Paris, son of King Priam of Troy, was abandoned by his mother at birth, because she had dreamed that the child she was carrying would one day bring disaster to Troy. To avoid fulfilment of this prophecy, she left Paris exposed on Mount Ida to perish. He was however rescued and brought up by shepherds. In the Iliad, Homer relates that at the wedding of Peleus and Thetis, Eris, the goddess of envy and discord, was furious because she was not invited to the wedding. So she threw down among the guests a golden apple inscribed “For the fairest”. Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite immediately fell to quarrelling over the prize. Eventually the three vain goddesses asked Zeus to decide which of them was “the fairest.” But Zeus declined to choose between them. Instead, he proposed that Paris be the judge to settle the dispute. Each of the goddesses in turn tried to influence his decision: Hera tempted him with land and riches, Athena offered him victory in battle and Aphrodite promised him the choice of the most beautiful of women. Unwisely, Paris fell for the latter and awarded the apple to Aphrodite. Subsequently, he sailed to Sparta, abducted Helen, the beautiful wife of King Menelaus of Greece, and carried her back to Troy, thereby provoking the war that led to the destruction of Troy. Thus the prophecy of his mother was fulfilled.
THE FIRST WAR TRICK
The Greeks built a huge wooden horse, inside which thirty to forty hand-picked warriors were hidden. The rest of the army then boarded their ships and pretended to sail away, leaving the wooden horse outside the gates of Troy as a peace offering. The Trojans celebrated their “victory” and dragged the gift within the city walls. As soon as darkness fell, after most of Troy was asleep or in a drunken stupor, the Greeks emerged from the horse and slaughtered the Trojans. The rest of the Greek army, which had silently returned, flooded in. The city was sacked and burned. Its inhabitants were either killed or sold into slavery.
THE FIRST BRIDGE ACCROSS A STRAIT
A large pontoon bridge (bridge of boats) was constructed in 480 BC for the Persian King Xerxes the Great of Persia across the Hellespont (the Dardanelles in modern terminology) that separated Anatolia from Europe. Xerxes bridged the gap with ships by constructing a unique pair of bridges with hundreds of vessels ranged side by side.
The ships were lashed together parallel to the banks of the Hellespont. The bridge builders moored them with anchors of unusual size in order to resist the strong currents and the winds that blew through the Hellespont. The Persians then strung cables of papyrus and flax across the floating vessels from bank to bank, and windlasses on both beaches winched the cables taut. Next, planks were laid side by side upon the tightened cables and fastened in place.
Xerxes' engineers, in short, built a combination suspension and a pontoon bridge. The cables took some of the weight and provided more consistent stability than the separate vessels, and the ships kept the lengthy, heavy cables from sagging into the water. Atop the planks of this combination bridge, soil was packed down to make an earthen roadway for the cavalry and troops. Xerxes built two of these bridges, using 360 ships and 314 vessels at a narrower crossing. So gigantic was his army (1 million 700 thousand soldiers) that its horses trampled across the two highways for a week.
THE FIRST SWIM ACROSS A STRAIT
The story of Hero and Leander is one enduring love. The waters of the Hellespont separated these two famous lovers. At the narrowest point of the Hellespont, Leander lived on the European side (Sestos) and had to swim to his lover each night, on the Asiatic side at Abydos. Leander was guided in his swim by a light Hero held out in her hand. Tragically, one night the light was extinguished by a gust of wind, Leander lost his way and was drowned. Stricken with grief, Hero committed suicide.
THE FIRST SCHOOL OF PHILOSOPHY
The Ancient Greek City of Assos is crowned by an impressive temple dedicated to the Goddess Athena. The Doric Temple of Athena (530 BC) is as impressive today as it was in Antiquity; it is the only temple in Doric style in Asia Minor. Aristotle (384-322 BC) was a Greek philosopher who taught Alexander the Great. He resided in Assos for several years (ca. 347-343 B.C.) before going on to become the tutor of Alexander the Great. Aristotle made innovative observations on zoology and biology. This was a Temple dedicated to the Goddess who protected the city. At the same time, this building with its sharp-lined Doric columns was a symbol for sailors who knew it very well and who could perceive it from a long distance while they were approaching the city by sea.
THE FIRST WORLD MAP WAS DRAWN
The map focuses on the western coast of Africa, the eastern coast of South America, and the northern coast of Antarctica. It is the oldest surviving map to show the Americas and shows South America and Africa in correct relative longitude, despite the fact that the navigators of that time had no way to establish longitude.
The map, drawn in Kilitbahir Fortress on a gazelle skin parchment, is with dimensions reported 87 cm x 63 cm x 41 cm. These discrepancies are largely due to the damaged corner. Piri Reis obligingly gives us a series of notes written in his own hand on the map itself. Here he tells us that he was not responsible for the original surveying and cartography. On the contrary he honestly admits that his role was merely that of compiler and copyist and that his own map was derived from 20 of source maps. Some of these had been drawn by contemporary or near - contemporary explorers (including Christopher Columbus), who had reached South America and the Caribbean in 1492, but others were documents of great antiquity dating back to the 4th century BCE or earlier.
The map has several interesting features which deserve investigation, such as: The map shows the earth as seen from space; the map shows the subglacial topography of Greenland; the map shows the subglacial topography of Antarctica; the map has pre-Columbian provenance; the map shows the coastline of America.
Piri Reis worked for the newly discovered places in the west and he prepared his second world map in 1528 after finishing his book “Kitab-i Bahriye” – Book of Navigation, the most famous of Piri Reis’s works considered as an excellent geography book of his times. The only portion to survive of this second world map is part of the depiction of the Atlantic Ocean.
UNESCO declared 2013 the Year of Ottoman cartographer Piri Reis and, in the honour of its 500th Anniversary of its creation, the Map of Piri Reis, has been included by UNESCO in the 2013 celebrations and commemorations as one of the most valuable possessions of the world.