Truly, 2017 has been a year of discovery — whether we’ve unearthed something new or deeply hidden in the past. While astronomers observed snow on Mars, casual hikers came across a fossilized Cretaceous water bird. Adding to this year’s list of wow moments are archeologists from the Van Yüzüncü Yıl University. Divers discovered an ancient fortress dating as far back as 9 B.C. in Turkey’s Lake Van.
“It is a miracle to find this castle underwater,” [head diver Tahsin Ceylan] added. “Archaeologists will come here to examine the castle’s history and provide information on it,” he said.
The castle presumably existed under the Uratu civilization in the iron age. Bearing in mind that the structure has been underwater for over 3,000 years, it’s a miracle that its walls are still intact up to 13 feet. Lake Van itself is some 600,000 years old and likely harbors other mysteries.
“With this belief in mind, we are working to reveal the lake’s secrets,” Mr Ceylan added.
Home to unusual stalagmite formations and numerous shipwrecks, who knows what else Lake Van might be hiding?
It isn’t every day an act of kindness makes a lasting impact. Thanks to a stranger, you might witness the birth of your child or reunite with a lost pet. Or if you’re 12-year-old refugee Mohammed Khaled, you’ll enjoy getting into shape. Gym owner Engin Dogan offered the shoeshiner a lifetime membership, in the hopes of inspiring others to pay it forward.
“A boy, looking through the gym window, wearing slippers in the middle of winter and carrying his backpack.
“Our aim was to find him and offer him a lifetime membership here. And, we did it.” [said Dogan.]
With over 3.3 million Syrian refugees taking shelter in Turkey, a simple favor goes a long way. Since going viral on social media, Khaled has finally begun training with his unexpected saviors.
“He found me and helped me,“ Khaled said.
“I had always dreamed of losing weight and now I believe I can do that by working out.”
Many Turkish establishments are famed for their ground-up histories. It’s no wonder their hardworking citizens look out for one another — even for those who are different.
People in predicaments will often feel for others in similar situations. When new mom Elisabeth Anderson-Sierra learned she could produce more breastmilk than usual, she donated 5,000 pints to parents-in-need. Having to spend Thanksgiving alone since 1985, Scott Macaulay is treating strangers to a turkey meal for the 32nd year in a row.
“The whole idea of this is to replicate somebody’s home,” he says. “I bring in sofas, oriental rugs and fake fireplaces so that everyone will feel like they’re in somebody’s living room. Then, I put myself in charge of the cooking and some of the guests chip in to serve dinner and clean up.”
Hosting dinner at the Greet Street Baptist Church, Macaulay says the gatherings are less about the food and more about family. Many of his visitors are widows and widowers or single parents. Macaulay’s ex-wife even once made an appearance. After the meal, guests share what they are most thankful for.
“I save all of their submissions because it’s sentimental,” he [says]. “Most people are thankful for their health, while others are thankful for things like, ‘My son is now speaking to me.’ Everything always comes from the heart.”
Who knew turkey could bring people together?
Around the world, free meals have been making it into the mouths of the hungry at an impressive scale. In New York public schools, lunches are free of charge. Soup kitchens, like La Soupe in Cincinnati, are growing in abundance across the nation. This modest Anatolian town is home to Merkez restaurant, which offers free meals to the poor.
On any given day, [owner Mehmet] Ozturk says at least 15 people come to his restaurant to receive a free meal. According to residents, around 100 people eat for free each day across the whole town, which is home to around 28,000 people.
Merkez owners have been serving free meals for a healthy 70 years. Menu items include rice, chicken, soup, and, of course, kebabs. On Islamic holidays, Merkez provides feasts at no cost to the entire town of Karakocan.
“No matter who you ask in Elazig, they will tell you about Karakocan’s generosity,” [says Hasan Gulbasan, restaurant manager in Karakocan.]
Karakocan has aided causes for Syria’s Aleppo as well as victims of the Van earthquake in 2011. Many claim to engage in philanthropic activities for the sake of barakah (blessings), but are also just inherently giving. If there is one thing this little Turkish community can preach, it’s that generosity never gets old.