What have the Romans ever done for us?

The discovery of a nearly 2,000-year-old wooden toilet seat by Hadrian’s Wall in England brought to my mind just how expansive the Roman Empire was, stretching from the highlands of Scotland to the Atlas Mountains of Morocco to the Upper Nile in Egypt to the deserts of Iraq. They were creative, violent, organized, and pragmatic, and they left a lasting legacy in every land they conquered and administered. The toilet seat also reminded me of the famous Monty Python skit from the film The Life of Brian. One of the rebels named Reg, who is plotting to overthrow the Romans, summarizes the local grievances against their masters: “All right, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh-water system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?”

Modern-day Turkey, long at the heart of the Hellenic world, was ruled for centuries by Rome and then into the Middle Ages by the Byzantine Empire until the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks. You can see the Roman footprint everywhere in Turkey–Istanbul, Antakya (brilliant mosaics and ruins everywhere), Adana, Myra, Ankara, Ephesus, and countless other historic sites and ancient cities. Here are just a few of some of the pictures I took. I have never published these before until now. Thanks Python crew for reminding me of all the things the Romans never did for us. (Click on each photo to see a larger picture on a separate picture page.)

More pictures of my trip to Turkey can be found on my Turkey photo gallery. Skit from Monty Python below.

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