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Taking a holiday in Istanbul after finishing The Scribe No. 74
From left: Eileen Khalastchy; Renée and Naim Dangoor
The picture was taken on the terrace of the Çiragan Palace, one of the old Royal Palaces that has been converted into a six star luxury hotel.

Istanbul is the only city in the world that is situated astride two continents – Europe and Asia, separated by the straits of Bosphorus which connects the Mediterranean and the Black Seas. Modern historians believe that one of the main floods of Antiquity took place in the basin of the Black Sea when it was a lake and its water level considerably lower than that of the Mediterranean. Then, one day the pressure of the higher water broke into the straits and raised the level of the Black Sea by some twenty metres, destroying all the cities and settlements around its shores. That may well have been Noah’s flood since the Bible tells us that his Ark finally rested on top of Mount Ararat in south-eastern Turkey. In fact, the remains of a very large wooden boat are still visible on that mountain today.

However, there was one difficulty in accepting that story since the Black Sea receives more fresh water from the European, Russian and Turkey’s rivers than does the Mediterranean from its rivers – a fact which should have made the water level of the Black Sea higher than that of the Mediterranean. But it appears that the Mediterranean has been constantly replenished from the waters of the Atlantic since that ocean broke into the Straits of Gibraltar a million years ago.

To confirm our findings we asked the British Admiralty in which direction the water flows through the Bosphorus and were readily told that it flows from the Mediterranean to the Black Sea.
During our visit there we asked the guide the same question and were given a more detailed and interesting answer: there are two currents in the Bosphorus flowing in opposite directions. A top current of sweet water flows from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean and a lower current of salt water flows from the Mediterranean to the Black Sea. This put the whole situation in proper perspective.

During its ascendancy, the Empire of the Ottoman Turks was very liberal and tolerant of other traditions and nationalities thus, when they finally occupied Constantinople in 1453 after a long wait, they did not change its name but kept the name of Constantine the Great, the Emporer who had made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire. But in its declining years, the Ottoman Empire became irritable and intolerant and became known as the sick man of Europe. The Great War of 1914-1918 stripped it of most of its possessions, restricting it to the Peninsula of Asia Minor.

After the Revolution of Kamal Ataturc in 1923, Turkey has traced for itself a new future in the politics of Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Turkey will play an increasingly important part in the destiny of the region.

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