Ruins Before They Were Ruins

Many years ago I had the good fortune to travel through Turkey. That country was a crossroads of waves upon waves of various cultures, and because of that it has an incredible amount of ancient ruins. There are so many Roman pillars, Lycian tombs, gateways of Hittites, Persian and Seleucid cities, Ottoman palaces, Greek theaters, and Byzantine churches and caves that the locals can hardly be blamed for taking them for granted. Many’s the time that I saw people indifferently stepping over toppled pillars or swerving their cars around tombs without giving them a second glance. I found this fascinating.

Ruins, in general, enthrall me. I can often imagine when they were shiny and new. Every edifice that is erected is a point of pride for its people. They anticipate decades, even centuries of use. At their opening ceremonies, the citizenry certainly isn’t imagining that these creations will someday crumble to dust and be coldly trodden upon by passersby.

I wonder about that moment in time when something stops being a modern and useful building and becomes a ruin. Is it identifiable? When the last person to leave it snuffed out its candles, what was he or she thinking? Was their one last backward glance? Does one even bother to lock the door?

Look at the buildings around you. Can you imagine them as ruins someday? Do you think they will last forever? Will they be bulldozed and built over, or will they be abandoned as the sea levels rise? Which cities will become uninhabitable or abandoned, and why?

Time passes. History has its impact. Unless humanity disappears entirely, someday people will wander amongst our refuse and wonder who we were. Or maybe they’ll walk right by without giving it any thought at all.

Aspendos
The Roman theater of Aspendos in Turkey. Still used occasionally today, most notably for the International Opera and Ballet Festival

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