• Story update

    The Times corrected an element of a piece of mine that ran in Sunday Styles about Ron Boyer, the porn star who is seeking to become an Episcopalian priest. A few readers have asked me to explain, and for those interested, I do so here.

  • Athens’ Historic Hotel

    I need to take a moment to tell you about the spectacular, historic hotel where I’m staying for a few days in Athens. The hotel Grande Bretagne is linked in every way with the tumultuous changes that have transformed this country from a dusty outpost of the Ottoman Empire into a modern, independent Greek state. […]

  • The Getty Wreath No More

    My heart still aches over the loss to Los Angeles of this exquisite piece.  It was, however, apparently looted. And bought by the Getty Museum. And demanded by Greece. And sent back in March of this year. Here it is, in the National Archeology Museum in Athens. 

  • Athens, and Athena

      Stumbling bleary-eyed to the rooftop of the Grand Bretagne Hotel, a stately, Baroque palace of a hotel in the heart of Athens, I squint as the bright sun floods the terrace. And there, as if you could touch it, is the Parthenon on its rocky outcrop. A crane is perched next to the famous […]

  • This is how it looks up close.

  • Losing the Lydian Hoard

    I travelled a very long way to get this photo of the rarest of antiquities. And it’s a fake. Therein lies a disturbing tale. This is the museum in Usak, a small city in central Turkey, which houses the treasures of King Croesus in 6th Century BC, a cache of 363 gold, silver and other […]

  • Libya Calls the Kettle Black

    Readers here may recall my mention of Libya asking for Italy to return a statue, and I wasn’t sure if it was voluntary or not on Italy’s part. Guess what: Not. Voluntary. The Art Newspaper has an amusing piece about how an Italian group is dragging its feet in returning the statue (pictured), despite an […]

  • On the Bus

    I’m doing something somewhat crazy – bussing it around the country. This is an education in itself. The bus system is well-organized and extremely civilized, designed for an evermore sophisticated populace. The bus I’m on is to Usak, a two-horse town in the middle of western Turkey, and it has movie service, and a server […]

  • Alexander

    I’m posting this as a special request from a reader, who remembers with awe the Alexander sarcophagus in the Istanbul Archeological Museum. This piece is a wonder, found in Sidon, Lebanon in 1873 by Hamdi Osman, Turkey’s first archeologist. Alexander the Great is the figure at the far left, cape flying, horse rearing high, as […]

  • Time Travel

    ANTALYA — Domestic travel in Turkey, nation of 73 million, like in Egypt, a nation of similar size (80 million), is like a trip back in time in the United States, once upon an Osama. Imagine not having to stand in a security line a half-mile long to get to the plane, not to take […]

  • The Big Railroad — Not so Fast

    Istanbul, city of dreams, capital of empires. You dig, you find. You find, you work. Beneath a plastic sheet creating sauna-like humidity, and misted by a length of constant sprinklers, archeologist Cemal Pulak, a Turkish-born professor at Texas A&M University, works on the find of a lifetime. When the city began digging a new, state-of-the-art […]

  • I Make House Calls

    This man looks rather fierce, but he is a frequent giggler– if you can get in to see him. Here’s today’s adventure in Ankara. I arrived at the offices of Orhan Duzgun (left), the general director of Turkey’s office of Cultural Assets and Museums. He’s the guy in charge of the museums and Turkey’s smuggling […]

  • Ankara’s Away

    Ankara, what a big surprise. After the clanking, smoky chaos of Cairo, where the cars descend on one another in a cacophonous cascade, where every elegant building seems to be flanked by a slum and every swept sidewalk hides a garbage pile to its rear, Ankara feels like Switzerland. This sprawling city of 5 million […]

  • Midlife Crisis

    Well, this may be a bit of a surprise to those following my journey in the Middle East. My last story before book leave appears in today’s Sunday Styles. It’s about Ron Boyer, aka Rod Fontana, porn star turning preacher. It says: "After 30 years of sowing the wildest of oats, Mr. Boyer, 54, has […]

  • Turkey Bound

    Heading to Turkey, to discover more about looted antiquities. Cairo teems below on a hazy Sunday morning. Last night the French embassy had its Bastille Day bash, 2,000 people in the garden of the embassy. A choir sang the French and Egyptian national anthems, there was disco music with throwback tunes (anyone remember "Life is […]