Olive Garden Of Wisdom

The tradition of producing and sharing knowledge, which started thousands of years ago with Plato on the Aegean, has continued for the last thirteen years at Adatepe’s Taşmektep.

Attached to the Çanakkale township of Ayvacık, Adatepe is a village close to the stars. Assos is a mere 30 kilometers away, Troy 70. The treasures of this village, tucked away in the foothills of the oxygen-rich Kaz Dağları mountain range that looks out over the Gulf of Edremit are its pine forests, olive orchards and traditional houses. And bearing witness to how long mankind has been aware of the beauty of this region is the Altar of Zeus on the side of the village facing the sea.

Mankind has indeed been aware of the beauty here for a long time. Sappho, who lived on the nearby island of Lesbos, described this as a place of “Horses grazing, meadowlands, clover/Where flowers bloom and the fragrance of honey wafts.”

But come, let us pause briefly. Socrates defines learning as remembering. Man knows but has forgotten. According to Socrates, who proved his claim by having a slave solve a geometry problem, his task was no different from that of a midwife. Perhaps the abundance of oxygen that drew Aristotle to nearby Assos reinforced his memory! All joking aside, however, when Plato’s student Hermias wrested control of Assos from the banker Eubolos, one of the first things he did was to invite Plato’s most famous student, Aristotle, there to teach. Indeed, he even went so far as to arrange a marriage between his niece Pythias and the great philosopher. But I digress.

Let us now fast forward some two thousand years. It is 1997. Erhan Şengel, Zerrin İren Boynudelik and Kamil Firat are enthusiastically surveying the ruin of a primary school abandoned close to forty years ago. For they have found what they have been looking for. They immediately set to work to rent the building from the Province of Çanakkale and restore it preserving all its original features. So is born the Adatepe Taşmektep (literally, ‘Stone School’), which offers a wide range of activities from philosophy, art history, Sufi mysticism and interpreting miniatures to photography and pottery workshops. Every summer people escape the tiresome routine of the cities in which they live to meet here, in these lovely surroundings, to share knowledge and ideas in the shade of the pine trees. The classes are held either in the classrooms of the school ensconced amongst the pines, or in the school garden.

İlber Ortaylı, Hilmi Yavuz, Oruç Aruoba, Mete Tuncay, Mehmet Genç, Murat Belge, Ömer Madra, Meral Özbek, Zerrin İren Boynudelik, Kamil Fırat, Kadir Demir and Ömer Laçiner are just a few of the figures from Turkish intellectual life who have taken part in the seminars here, which are having an impact on the local economy. Olive growing and animal husbandry are the backbone of the economy in Adatepe where the number of bed&breakfasts is growing apace. Right now three are operating inside the village.

To cut a long story short, the village of Adatepe is living proof that people may have recourse to millennia-old words to say something completely new.

The seminars are being realized through the truly incredible efforts of two of my former and very distinguished and beloved students, Zerrin Boynudelik and Kamil Fırat. I cannot find words to express my admiration. They rented an abandoned old stone school building from Çanakkale Province for 49 years, then restored and furnished it and turned it into a seminar venue. In extraordinary splendor, the sky here becomes a luminous dark blue garden by night, and for the first time since childhood I have again seen Venus, the Milky Way and other stars on Adatepe nights.

Art and War.
Zerrin İren B. & Kamil Fırat: 
Kürşad Demirci:
History of Comparative Religions.
Zeren Tanındı: 
The Book as a Work of Art: Bindings, Illuminations and Miniatures
Wood Print Workshop 
Kadir Demir:
Caner Karavit: 
Pottery Workshop
Ömer Laçiner:
Iran Before and After Khomeini
Rüstem Aslan: 
From Mythology, Archaeology and Literature to Troy
Ebru Ceren Uzun:
Photography Workshop - Basic Photography
Kamil Fırat & Orhan Alptürk:
A Stroll Through the Forest of Photographic Narrative