19 March 1902

From/To: Gertrude Bell to her stepmother, Dame Florence Bell

[March 19 1902] Smyrna [Izmir]. Wed 19. Dearest Mother. I really am off today on the Cleopatra, an excellent boat of the Austrian Lloyd. It touches everywhere - Rhodes [Rodhos], Latakia [Al Ladhiqiyah], Alexandretta [Iskenderun (Alexandria ad Issum)] etc and reaches Haifa next Wed. I think however that it will be rather amusing to go coasting and it is a great convenience to go straight to Haifa and not to have to transship at Beyrout [Beyrouth (Beirut)]. I shall go up to the Consulate there and ask if there are any letters for me. I had a very nice time at the Whittalls; they are pleasant people. We spent all the day at Ephesus yesterday, an enormous party, 12 of us. Mr and Mrs Edward Whittall took us - he is the botanist. He and I took poneys [sic] and rode up to the top of the hill that I might see the walls of Lysimachus which I had never succeeded in seeing - they are a good long way off. But most interesting, the finest Greek fortification building and of enormous extent. It was moreover a delicious day and from the top of the hill all Ephesus lay spread before us, the Asiatic and the Greek town and the whole valley of the Cayster down to the sea. I found besides a most charming little yellow frittillary growing. We started at 6 AM and got back at 6.30 PM. We played Bridge all the way in the train! I travelled down this morning with Mr Richard Whittall, the eldest brother, father of Mrs van Heemstra, so now I know them all. And if I wanted to stay and spend the summer with them I certainly might! But I pine a little for my own society; one is never never alone and when I go travelling, all the station masters come too! Oh, I had a very successful day on Monday. I went to a little place called Menemen where the Germans are excavating - about 2 hours from Smyrna. Mr Hatton, I need hardly say, travelled with me, but he left me at the station where I found the German to whom I had a letter, Dr BÅhlan. So we took a carriage and drove across the Hermus [Gediz] plain to Larissa, an hour's drive, and it was most agreeable, for he was pleasant and an enthusiastic archaeologist. I found in the course of conversation that he was the nephew of FrÑulein Schwabe! thereupon we made great friends. Larissa is very old, 700 BC; they hoped to have found traces of a Mycenaean town but have not so far. But they have found a most interesting terracotta frieze, in fragments; a painted frieze of very fine archaic work which doubtless decorated the temple. While I was there they uncovered a stylobate which they take to have been the front of the temple - only foundations, the rest was probably of wood and terracotta so that they do not expect to find more. But round these foundations they unearthed some small terracotta figures, a woman with a child, the Mother goddess, to whom they had suspected the temple wd be dedicated. So there was immense joy and excitement! Dr BÅhlan gave me an excellent tea and we have agreed to excavate Colophon together, he taking the necropolis and I the acropolis. We want ú2000 please. At Menemen the station master was extremely keen to come too, but fortunately he was too busy! also Mr Hatton regretted very much that he had not come! I was thankful to have had my peaceful afternoon with someone who thought of nothing but temple walls and mother goddesses! Ever your affectionate daughter Gertrude

I hope Maurice prospers - dear! how I long for letters!

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